Monday, February 09, 2004

Hi Katherine,
I guess several things have struck me in your posts over the past several days. One is how emotionally stirred up you have been as you have been moving into your CPE experience. It seems that a lot of it has to do with being in a situation in which you don't know the ropes and are learning as you are going along, along with being in a situation in which people are experiencing very difficult things that are upsetting to them, and to you. Along the lines of your goal of learning the narrative approach, I wonder if you have placed this story in a larger narrative our your life as yet, or how what is going on is fitting, or not fitting, into something familiar? It seems to me that the circumstances of the present are pullling very powerful feelings out of your inner self at this point, and along the line of knowledge and power, it may be helpful to try and place those feelings as a way of knowing them and yourself more fully.
Along with that, I find myself curious about your reaction to the experience of putting yourself out in the midst of the CPE group and coming away feeling as if you wish you had not--feeling like a guinea pig or as if you were violated in some way. Again, this story--that of taking risks and being disappointed or feeling used by also have a history that would grow, and then perhaps, change, in the telling and revising. Whether or not you should have self disclosed as much as you did early on seems less important, from a training perspective, than what you learned about yourself from the experience, and how this you might want to evalute and revise the character that you are, or might reflexively play, in this drama called CPE training as you explore your place in the group. Since I know something about your history, I am put in mind of your detached family in which it was every man, or woman, for themselves, and how the challenge of how one joins and belongs to others in a mutual way my be getting kicked up in this experience. When you did what you did in the group, what were you aware of wanting from the experience, and how did what you get compare to that? And, how familiar is that?
With respect to the dying man and his family and their anger issues, it is not unusual for people, particularly under the difficult circumstances that these people were under, to just not be able to bring what is in them to the place of revealing it. I don't doubt that they were all struggling with issues of anger. Going through what they were going through, who wouldn't be? At the same time, not knowing what to do with it or how to put it into words, as seemed to be the case, was all they could do. It may be an important learning to realize that in facing crisis or death, people deal in pretty much the same way that they have always dealt prior to facing crisis or death, and right until the end and beyond, that is all they can do. When you are their chaplain, you may be called upon to accompany them through want seems to be a completely ineffective and cut off experience which does not feel satisfying to you, yet it is all they can do. The challenge becomes to honor peoples' resistances and failures as well as their self disclosures and successes, and to try to perceive the ways that they tell you their stories in other ways other than putting them into words. If you think that this man and his family told you their story in some way in what they did, it may be interesting to reflect on how that happened. For example, you came out of the experience feeling numb. You didn't approach the situation feeling that way, so might it be that this man and his family got you to experience what their world was like at that particular moment by creating a situation that would cause you to go numb, just exactly the way they had gone numb, and being numb, were unable to really tell you anything about themselves. You came away numb and confused, and perhaps in that knew exactly what was happening with them.
Anyway, something to think about. Some patients will never move out of whatever defense or distortion they are in, but that doesn't mean they won't get you to understand their world--they man just do it a different way.


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