This week I’m going to examine a recent online correspondence I shared with a man I’ll call “Ron.” Our exchange clearly demonstrates the use of metaphor in our everyday, waking, “real” lives, and Ron graciously gave his permission to use our notes so others could benefit from eavesdropping on his crisis. Since the correspondence will be spread out over the week, it will simulate the feeling of our exchange as it took place. I will leave our notes largely intact and unedited. The biggest exception will be one lengthy email which I will slightly abridge.
As you read and ponder Ron’s dilemma, think in terms of metaphors; think in terms of the waking dream. Ron’s experience was, of course, traumatic to him—indeed, shattering. But as you will soon discover, it was also something more, something invaluable. His ordeal is an excellent demonstration of the idea that I have so often touted in these emails, namely, that life presents us with crises, not because it is trying to be cruel, but because it wants to teach us something. In order to accomplish that, it needs to attract our attention, and in doing so, it often upsets us. The key to unlocking its message is to understand the language it is using to communicate with us. That is the language of symbols and their metaphoric meanings.
In a correspondence, it would have been unwieldy to try to ask Ron to “Tell me about…” each of his symbols, so I broke my own rule and took some guesses—something I don’t really like doing. Fortunately, I got close enough with my interpretation that Ron was able to identify with my assessment, and as you will discover over the week, this story has an ending that brought significant relief to a deeply troubled individual.
What follows is Ron’s original email communication to me:
I hope it’s OK that I am writing to you, but I could use some help.
I said three inappropriate things to a female coworker, each comment was said at a separate time. It eventually cost me my job of nine years. I am hurt and shattered as a person...because that job was my whole identity. I am working on that ego part.
But, what is confusing...is that I remember "specifically" each of the thoughts coming into my mind before I said them to her. Actually, these thoughts came into my mind, as if, from somewhere else. Like these comments were 'given' to me to say at that exact time...then weeks later....I found out that these exact three comments...were what cost me my job.
So, my question is, of course, where did these thoughts come from...and why was I 'forced' or....now I feel that I was 'destined' to say them at that exact time?
I look back and see or feel like..."Oh yeah, I could not have acted any differently."
I'm praying that...if I can find an answer to this...my suffering could be lessened.
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