Here is a moment I had six months ago.
I'm sitting at a desk, wearing my suit and tie. I’m in a Title IX hearing. Two women, classmates of mine, have reported me for sexual harassment. We've waited six months for this moment. We've already been interviewed during an investigation, and now we're invited to speak our minds at a hearing. Afterward, it will be decided if I am responsible for breaking the code of conduct, and if so, what my punishment will be.
So I’m sitting in that hearing… in a spare classroom at the college... It's a classroom where I discovered Albert Ellis, Carl Jung, Irvin Yalom, Marsha Linehan, and so many others. All of these great mind-healers admonished us to strive toward the truth… even if it’s miserable. At least you’ll exchange counterfeit misery for genuine misery. We can accomplish this healing misery by disputing cognitive distortions such as black-and-white thinking… all-or-nothing thinking… catastrophic thinking.
But today, at the climax of the hearing, I hear the voice of a woman tell a starkly black-and-white story. Just six months prior, I considered this woman to be one of my closest, and most unlikely friends. We’d shared two years of countless moments relating the deepest disappointments and highest hopes we have for ourselves and for humanity. We discovered, along with all our classmates, the limits of our tolerance for stress; working full time jobs, attending marathon class sessions, completing arduous assignments, and training ourselves over hundreds of internship hours. We laughed a lot, cried a little, got high on alcohol, weed, and honesty together. And we embraced often. What made our friendship so unlikely is that we disagreed on so much, but we always managed to transcended those disagreements for the sake of our mutual respect and affection.
But today... in the hearing room… the scandal of the previous six months changed all that. Today I heard my friend's voice pronounce that I was old. I was out of touch. And I was a predator. And a predator like me should never be allowed to become a mental health counselor.
Quite a moment, eh?
Well... How did I get here?
Listener Jose shared this stunningly beautiful blessing by John O'Donohue.
Denis mentioned Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death, Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, and Phil Stutz and Barry Michels' The Tools. He also mentioned men who have influenced him such as Arthur Fonzarelli, Don Draper, Zorba the Greek, Russel Brand, Neil Strauss and Alan Watts.
A few weeks ago "Jane" posted this publically on Facebook.
It's all true... except the part where I sexually harassed her. Nor did I blame her for my behavior in this email to my classmates. Victim-blaming is unforgivable in our field, so it seems worth my trouble to dispute the charge. Likewise, I hope my colleagues here are successful at disputing anyone ridiculous enough to charge them with slut-shaming men like me (how cool would THAT be!).
Even so... I'll defend those who would shame me. I do so by simply confessing... I am not ashamed.