A torrent of thoughts appeared in response to the challenges described in the previous two posts. They led me to two powerful insights, a clash of scripts, and a fork in the road, which is where I currently stand. One branch leads down an all-too familiar road of separation after two decades of on-off collaboration and learning. The other branch opens into an unknown landscape which will undoubtedly extend our work together, bringing us perhaps to the pinnacle of our friendship and the ultimate purpose of everything we have achieved so far.
It was early December last year and I lay awake from 02:00 onwards due to a sick feeling in my stomach – a bug I had caught from my son. Eventually it subsided enough for me to relax a little, but then wave after wave of thoughts came, all of them related to Karaj. They piqued my anger as I circled around them, but the anger felt more like a vehicle for everything which streamed forth, not just in those few hours, but in the days that followed, as each pass offered new considerations and insights.
A small part of me felt like I was defending myself, but on the whole there was a sense of clarification and cleansing; a recognition and acknowledgement of the harshest aspects of his character and methods, which are too easily overlooked in favour of the obvious benefits of his tenacious, challenging nature. Most evidently, as the dark, sleepless hours gave way to morning, it increasingly felt as if I was on to something.
There was familiarity, too. I had been here before. Back in 2003, as my time with Karaj was coming to an end, I had done the exact same thing during a long walk to calm myself down. By the end of that two-hour walk, I had a list of seven points. This time, after a week of contemplation, I had recorded close to 40. (A distilled list appears at the end of this post.)
Ultimately, the conclusion is that we are both being challenged. Our respective scripts are combining to make sure we no longer work together, and yet we stand at a point in our friendship which may well herald the best work we have ever done.
My two main insights are these:
- He pushes people away and he is pushing me away (again).
- We have to honour the work we have done so far by pushing through and focusing on the three words of the first post in this series: Love, Relationship & Healing. It’s as though everything we have done up to now is the foundation of what we are about to do.
It’s interesting that as I write this piece – three months after the events I’m describing – there are moments of indignation again, but more dominant is the desire to reach for the phone and connect with Karaj. I tell myself that I need to get things straight for myself first through this writing. There will be time for the phone call because whatever comes after that will need time, too.
For now, here is the condensed list of points from that week in early December. It clearly shows the progression from annoyance, via reflection and deliberation, to insight and clarity.
- He’s abusive. A bully. A liar.
- And a hypocrite – he denigrates people and yet demands that we see the humanity in others.
- He says that he is always right. Where’s the humility?
- The Experiment in Self-Healing Community he set up in January 2002 did not work.
- His love is just another procedure. His comment – ‘Don’t be unhappy about the challenge, I have love for you.’ – made me feel like it was one of those abusive parental justifications: ‘I’m doing this for your own good.’ (‘I’m beating you because I love you.’)
- He is pushing me away. His challenge is a valid one, but the way he delivered it made me want to withdraw and walk away, even though a part of me knows that would be no good.
- He has pushed everyone else away, too. Karaj has been pushing people away all his life.
- He pushed me out in 2003, as well. Admittedly, I was ready to leave (as a part of me is now). As now, it was a perfect clash of scripts, but what if I had stayed? What if we had seen this back then, and addressed it head on?
- I asked him if he had learnt anything from his marriage (he pushed his wife away, too) and whether there is anything he would do differently. His answer: ‘I have nothing to learn.’ Again, where is the humility?
- It’s his script and I am intricately involved in it. More relevantly, our scripts are entwined: He pushes people away and I wilfully walk away. (The two father figures in my life are both alone and, for different reasons, hiding away from the world.)
- His challenge has worked. It sharpened my focus on needing to do something, rather than hoping something would happen. But that was really all it took. That leaves me with the feeling that I was closer to this state of relationship with my son than I thought. In that sense, Karaj’s challenge was like a crystal being dropped into a super-saturated solution.
- He should have some faith in me that I can do this. What he wants, of course, is for me to be able to do this work without his intervention – to be able to take this step myself without being challenged, which is fair enough. (Even though he has always said, we cannot do this work alone.)
- Karaj should know that I am listening to him. He doesn’t need to ‘shout’. If he has read the pieces I have sent him (twice) recently, then he would see that. (Last time I asked, he hadn’t read any of them.)
- The processing of this – my challenge to Karaj – and the insights I am having, are showing me that I am much better at this than I give myself credit for. I’m better than I thought, and better than Karaj seems to think.
- Furthermore, if I am right about my challenge to Karaj (and every thought I have about it feels right) then I certainly am capable of giving him what he needs.
- This is the meat and potatoes of our work together. If I (we) don’t do this, then none of it matters.
- The subtitle of Book 2 is: A Story of Love, Relationship & Healing. This all means that I have to honour those words, or the book is worthless. (I challenged him at the end of Book 1, too, and it looks like the ending of Book 2 will be the same, but maybe even more meaningful and healing.)
There is a third major insight that needs to be highlighted, which is that all of this goes beyond the writing of any book, or our continued friendship. This cuts to the core of Script work. Our respective scripts are rising up to their full height, and the easiest course of action would be to acquiesce and allow familiar patterns to triumph. The real healing lies in not allowing that to happen, and instead doing what we both know is the right thing to do (as difficult as it may seem).
As we shall see, the final phone calls of 2020 brought me to the critical point of a friendship with the one person who has consistently pushed me to look as deeply as possible at the truth of my life. As I end this piece, I feel sure that we will be in touch soon. But first there is one more piece to write.