An Examination Of Pain

Wednesday 24 September, 2003

Simran arrived at 17.40, and Calvin called to say he was on his way. He has received a reply from his boss about his work appraisal, to which he needs to respond by close of business in two days. Calvin is bashing himself up for not having got his response in first. It serves him right. I helped Simran with the food. He still irritates me but that is my issue, not his.

I welcomed Calvin, Ishwar & Michelle as they arrived, and made tea for all. In the supervision session, Karaj spoke of how we need each other. He told his supervisor this week that every man he has got close to has left and ‘If Jonathan goes I’m dead again.’ Then we addressed Calvin’s work issue. He needs to formulate a response on the guidelines for investigation into his work and complete his report on how he wants to be appraised. Once again he has left things until the last minute and it is now a patch-up job.

Thoughts on Calvin’s (lack of) presence: I am annoyed by his lack of life when he comes here. He just stands around awaiting instruction. He does not offer to help out and does not relate to any of the people here. He knows all he has to do is talk, yet he does not take the opportunity to practice with us. If he cannot relate to us, then how is he going to relate to anyone? He does not own this place and does not seem in the slightest bit interested. [I challenged him the next day on this.]

Preparation

Supervision in the sunken garden (Karaj, Simran, Calvin, Michelle, Ishwar, Shona and me). We talked about how people will not trust Ishwar because they expect him to be stupid. He has a great level of instinct and people cannot understand how he knows the things he does. He sees through people like Karaj. And Karaj has the same problem: he is a brilliant therapist but people don’t trust him. We did some preparation for the work on my pain. It was very short because Karaj did not know how to approach it either. He did tell the others to look after me because I will cry. I thought to myself, ‘I’m not gonna cry.

Distracting Everyone

Work on my pain. I started with an introduction about how I have been unable to do anything on this subject, nor get a handle on my pain here. Then Karaj came in and spent ten minutes briefing the group to look at the psychological pain I have gone through in my time here, and to make sure I stick to that because I will distract everyone with my arguments. As he spoke, I thought, ‘Maybe I will cry after all.’ Then he left us to it.

Unfortunately, the session was mainly about Simran and me having our own conversation, with some contribution from Shona. I warned Simran that I will try and distract him, and at one point he told me: ‘You’re good, aren’t you.’ I know this, but still no-one did anything to bring the session back to the point.

Simran and Michelle eventually called a break which was the best thing anyone could have done. At this point it was already 23:30 and I was ready to call it a night because I had at least elicited two useful comments from Simran and Ishwar. Their comments showed me that I clearly have a relationship with my pain which needs looking at and sorting out for me to move on.

Simran: ‘What is the point of your pain? How does it serve you? How is it going to help you move forward?
Ishwar: ‘You seem addicted to your pain and at the same time convinced you can get away from it.

I was quiet and glad of the breather. I was enjoying the perspicacity of the arguments as well as the opportunity to voice my emotions about my back, hospital, and my parents; but I still felt that we were not really getting anywhere.

Making Progress

As we went back in I remarked that it was more like a philosophy evening between Simran and me. Ishwar went first, commenting that the work is not going anywhere. I went mad at him for doing what he always does: confirming what someone else has just said when he has known it all along. I was livid with him for not stopping the process earlier. In not doing so, he is letting me down and not supporting me.

Initially he claimed that he had only just realised it was going nowhere, but when I pressed him, it transpired that he had written it in his notebook after 15 minutes. I went on at him about how he has a gift which none of us have. He has insight, and in not sharing it with us he is letting us down, Moreover, in this case he has allowed me to lead everyone a merry dance just as Karaj warned them I would.

We settled down into more conversation about the pain resulting from the realisations I have had about why I am the way I am – my parents. At this point, Ishwar shared a story from his own childhood, about being humiliated in front of his own father (for not being able to do mathematics). It has affected him his entire life, but he has never told anyone about it. This is the sort of pain we uncover here and that was more like it.

Pain & Privilege

Shona asked me what I had learnt from helping Michelle and Karaj with their pain this week. The gain for me was the privilege of being able to do something; especially for Karaj. It was here I started to cry. Simran asked me why I was crying. It was because I had felt Karaj’s pain on that day in the sunken garden as we completed the work on his résumé; it was an honour for me to do something for him because the man has done so much for me. Simran asked if I felt annoyed. No. I felt grateful.

Shona spoke beautifully at this point, telling me I had managed to do something which nobody has succeeded in doing – not even her –  and it is an indication of the special relationship which Karaj and I have.

Summing Up

After a break, we rounded up the evening and summarised the day. I was feeling better. I had released emotion in challenging Ishwar and in talking about helping Karaj. However, as with the whole evening, I was leading the group. This was something which annoyed me slightly about my peers because I was having to do all the work: bring people in and get them involved, as well as talk about my pain.

Still, it had been a useful evening for me. I had talked about things that these people had not heard from me before; about the fact that I am here, on this planet, to get to the core of who I am and be the best person I can be, and that only when that work is done will I rest. Living a pain-free life may be possible but that is not my goal. My goal is to shed the conditioning, find myself and be myself fully, in all my brilliance.

I prompted others for their summaries and learning points. Simran saw that he needs to bring others in and not wait for them to say something. Ishwar acknowledged my challenge and was grateful for the opportunity to share his story with us. Calvin said that he needs to have faith that things will work out. I pressed him further on whether this session had touched on his own pain, but he had no real response. He had said nothing all evening, even when I had invited him to speak – except to say in the first hour that it was above him and he didn’t understand what was being said. I challenged him on this in a similar way to the challenge to Ishwar – speak up!

Michelle was bashing herself up for not having contributed and not having matched my contribution to her last night. I told her I was delighted to see her this evening; that in calling the two breaks, she had made a significant contribution and that she contributes more than she realises. [Was I rescuing her?]

Shona’s summary was mature. She said she enjoyed the protracted discussions and made no apologies for taking our time to explore things fully. She added that this evening has shown her she is carrying a great deal of unexamined pain about her parents and that she needs to face it.

We finished at 01:30.

Summary: A full day which built up to the crescendo of this evening’s session. I expressed my emotions throughout. I took the first session personally, but I had called these people here to help me and I started to hear what they were saying after Simran told me I had butted both him and Shona. We have made a good start on the issue of pain; one which, I know, will really help me. One thing I will say about the group tonight: more than once, I suggested we call it a night, but they stuck with it until the end. It is that quality which will see us through.


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