Tuesday, August 07, 2007

An Existential Parable

By Patricia Lefave, Labelled D.D.(P)

How it feels to be ''one of them'' rather than ''one of us.''
One day, while sitting in your home in the woods, you notice the window sill looks a little crooked and there is a very small space between it and the wall. You decide to have a home builder and contractor that has been recommended to you take a look at it.

After he checks it out, he tells you that you must get it repaired or it will get much worse. Since he is an expert in these matters, you hire him to do the job. Soon, he arrives with his crew and they begin to fix the window sill. First, they haul out their sledge hammers and pound holes in the wall all around the window frame. This seems very odd to you so you ask the builder, What are you doing that for?
He tells you not to annoy him by asking him questions he doesn't like. Out of the side of his mouth he says to his crew, These whiny customers! They all think they know more than I do.''

His crew turns towards you as if of one mind, looks at you, and laughs contemptuously. You are offended by this behaviour but decide to hold your tongue. The work continues. They knock out your living room wall all the way down to the floor, begin to saw through the joists, remove the insulation and chip through the bricks on the outside wall.
Why are you doing this? you ask, alarmed at the amount of damage being done to your home to repair a window sill.
The builder tells you he has to get to the root of the problem and asks you angrily, ''Do you want help or not? Would you rather I just left you in the mess you are in right now?''

Then you agree that you DO need help and tell him to go ahead with the job.So, he and his crew continue. They knock the bricks right out of the outside wall. They drill a hole in the floor. They remove the plaster from the ceiling overhead to look for anything in the internal structure that would cause the imbalance of the window sill. The builder also covertly contacts the builder of the house you lived in twenty five years ago to see if he can shed any light from your past home ownership that would explain how you may have caused the window sill to become crooked like that. No one he asks can seem to explain how or why you did that.

Nevertheless, the builder is an expert in his field and is determined to solve this problem. He calls for a bulldozer and an overhead crane for heavier work. When you protest his digging up the foundation, he tells you to stop that whining, bitching, and complaining or he will handcuff you to a pole in the basement until you do. You start to feel panic. You are beginning to wonder if the builder is not what he seems and may in fact be dangerous. You start to wonder also if you should get some help from somewhere to stop him. He tells you that if you try to get any help from anyone else, or if you decide to start talking about what is happening to your home, not only will he handcuff you to the pole in the basement, but he will keep you there for the rest of your life and if you cry, get angry or make any noise, he will drug you to shut you up.This triggers the flight or fight response in you so you make a sudden bolt for the door in an attempt to escape from this madman. But it doesn't work. He shouts to his crew, "Stop her!"

Then he beats you to the door and locks you inside with him! His crew, being good loyal employees, do as they are told. They wrestle you to the floor and drag you to the basement to shackle you.
"I'm doing this for your own safety," the builder tells you. "You are too hysterical and confused to know what you are doing. I've seen some of my customers do this before. I know how to handle it. You' ll thank me in the end. You will thank me as soon as you realize what's really good for you."

The builder continues his search for the cause of the imbalance in the windowsill. Before long, the entire right side of the house is open to the elements and the building itself is beginning to shift on it's foundation, very dangerously to the right. Crowds of people soon come to watch the builder do his work. He enjoys his audience. He likes to teach others how to make lasting home repairs. They find his lectures on building just fascinating. Some of the onlookers hear your crying and moaning coming from the basement so one of the onlookers asks the builder about it.

"Oh that," he says, "don't pay any attention to that. In this business you have to put up with a lot of abuse from people who think they understand your job better than you do. She's just one of those difficult customers. A constant complainer, never happy with anything people are trying to do for her, and always wanting to be the centre of attention. That's the down side of the building game. It's a very stressful occupation let me tell you. But the rewards of building something that will really last are worth it. That, and helping people live successfully in their own homes, knowing you helped them straighten out their window sill imbalances...that makes it all worth the effort it takes to get them to finally accept the help from me that I know they really need."

The onlookers can see what a great humanitarian the builder really is. Just then, they hear another plaintive cry from the bowels of the building, "Please help me," you beg.
Almost as one voice they call back to you, "We are TRYING to help you but you've got to learn to accept the help."
To which the builder adds, "And you will STAY handcuffed to that pole until you do." Aside to the onlookers, the builder explained, "Sometimes you have to use some tactics that seem harsh to get these homeowners to accept the help they really need. Many of them just won't reach out on their own. It's harder on me than it is on them but I remind myself that it's for their own good."

The onlookers have to go home for dinner then but they will return to watch the work every day until he finishes the job. They can't help but admire such a dedicated guy. Some customers obviously don't know when they are well off.
As they walk away from your home in the woods to head for their own homes, they hear you, the ungrateful customer, whining again..."Please....somebody....anybody.... it's not what you think...please help me...get me out of here...."

The onlookers just laugh and remark to each other as they roll their eyes, "First she says she wants help and then when it is offered, she won't accept it! Come on lady, says the other, make up your mind....do you want help or not? Geez....you would think she was two different people. What a mental case...""You better lower your voice", says another.
She'll hear you..."She's not going to have any idea what we're talking about. She's too busy whining all the time," he says with an overdone guffaw of laughter.

To make a long drawn out story short, the builder continues to help you, the whiny customer, until he has blasted away the last of the pillars which were impeding his view of the root cause of the imbalanced window sill.
Unfortunately, before he gets a really close look, the house collapses around you while you are still handcuffed to the pole in the basement. With your now fading hearing, you pick up the voices of the onlookers remarking upon what a shame it is that the house collapsed after all the builder's hard work. But, obviously, no one could have seen it coming. It was just the builder's bad luck and really, anyone as whiny as you is better off dead anyway.

So, to cheer him up over his loss, they tell everyone they know to call him for a free home assessment, often adding that he is a real nice guy. Soon, he gets so many referrals that he has to add much more workspace in order to continue his now flourishing, financially rewarding career.

I myself would tell you who the builder in this story actually is, so you could call him for an assessment too, but I can't. You see, I have been warned several times that I must not attempt to tell anyone in public about this, or ask any questions that builder, or his crew fixing that home in the woods, doesn't like or I may well end up handcuffed to a pole in the basement myself.

Or, perhaps just to an emergency bed...institution bound you might say, for complaining about the builder and his dedicated, loyal crew who can assess my imbalanced structure for me whenever they decide to do so, whether I want them to or not. As I am sure you can now understand, being very careful about what I say in public and to whom I say it, is indeed, "for my own good." About that, we are all in agreement.

You won't take this story the wrong way will you?
Just remember that if you find yourself looking for hidden meaning in it, it's a sign that you have a brain disease and you need an anti-psychotic to reduce your awareness for you. You know...for some reason I just thought of Marshall McLuhan. I think that maybe if he lived in my city today, worked in a factory perhaps, and remarked of television, "the medium IS the message," he'd be shackled to a gurney awaiting "help" faster than he could find a new metaphor. In keeping with the McLuhan theme, I would like to recommend you not get too many "messages" from "the medium."

In fact, if you do, I would keep the message to myself if I were you...

A Note on this little parable:
It has been pointed out to me that some psychiatrists seem to really care. I agree there are some basically decent people in this. Three out of eight doctors on my own case were genuine believers in what they do, and I sensed they had very good intentions. But (and that's my big but) no matter how good their intentions were, or are, they still did a lot of personal damage to me which is ongoing, because of their beliefs and the "treatment" they decided I needed for telling them the truth they could not accept as ''real.''

An elderly woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One ofthe pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream, I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.The old woman smiled, Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. Good friends are the flowers in our garden of life. Thanks for being there for me.

With thanks to David Oaks of Mindfreedom International for forwarding this little story to me.

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