|Walter in Naples, Italy 1985|
While watching a news program recently, small infants were shown arching their backs in agony in the aftermath of being chlorine gassed. I thought to myself, "What kind of monster could do that to infants, then, I remembered, I was one of those monsters. I had coordinated air strikes, missile strikes and shore bombardment operations against Hezbollah in the mid 1980's.
I realized that I did not know how many people I had killed in my 25 year military career. How many grand moms, babies, dads, children, women, girls?
I thought I was a freedom fighter and learned that I was a storm trooper.
The realization was so painful that I remained in a fetal ball in my bed for days in shame and depression.
I have shed tears at least once daily since this happened over this issue.
Many people who do not know about nonviolent communication or mindfulness ...or the need to validate people when they are in pain ...say things like...."You were doing what you were told"...instead of..."I have been ashamed of myself before, tell me more".
The concept of latent memory needs to be discussed. Latent memory is known as the subconsciousness or UNKNOWN AREA in the Johari Window.
I was well aware that writing this book was going to result in me discovering things in the UNKNOWN and BLIND areas of my life and that it would take courage to put them in the PUBLIC or OPEN area.
You see, in order to have functional relationships, the OPEN or PUBLIC area about us must be larger than the other three boxes.
In the Public or Open area, there are things that we know about ourselves and things that others can see. The Blind area has things that we cannot see about ourselves that others can see. The Unknown area has things that we do not know about ourselves and that others do not know either...like...the first time we fell and hurt ourselves as a baby...that memory is in our minds clear as a bell even though we may not be able to retrieve it.
The HIDDEN or SECRET Area is an area that contains our secrets......we know things that others do not know. A counselor's or psychologist's job is to make it a safe place to explore and express feelings.
I was leading a group where two men had been raped. I kept encouraging them to talk about their rapes in the groups. Finally one told his story in the morning group and the other in the afternoon group.
A man next to me was rubbing his hands on his pants, sweating. I asked him, if he was ok and he said he was "Fine". Finally, he broke down and began crying. He told us of how his uncle had raped him between the ages of 4 and 7. He did not remember that until the other men told their stories.
You see, the mind protects us by not letting us remember things.
It is sometimes important to bring these things to the focal point as they may cause us to react in negative ways to similar situations as we go through life. This is how treatment works.
We become aware of things in our Unknown Area, hold on to the info in our Secret or Hidden Area. We have the courage to bring it out in Public or Open Area and people give us feedback and we discover more in the Blind Area and then Unknown Area.
The tenants of nonviolent communication guide us to speak in terms of emotions and to avoid rationalization, justification and minimization in this process.
(I was not THAT drunk, I was not THAT mad, I was not THAT LATE..or....Everybody does it...or...If you had a wife like mine you would drink too.)
It is important to speak on how we feel as opposed to what we think.
Emotional words are intrinsic to this process.
It is important to state what happened and how we felt about it.
I have learned to go through feelings, not around them.