Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You Don't Look Like a Puppy

Happiness is a warm puppy

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~ Ben Williams

"I thought you were supposed to make me feel better," he said, with a twinkle, but his tone suggested he meant more. "How come I feel worse when I leave than when I got here? I know, what do I think is the reason for that. Humor me, why is it that way more often than not?"

"Because, for the last hour, you've been breaking down some of the illusions you have about your life. They worked pretty well for you at one time, but lately, as you know, they haven't been working at all. It's one of the reasons you're here. Now you're confronting what you used to conveniently ignore, and so you feel worse afterward. Sometimes we have to feel badly for a while before we can begin to feel good again."

He nodded and, as he rose to leave, added, "Ben Williams -- you know him? It doesn't matter. Anyway, he once said, 'There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.' You don't look like a puppy."

"No, I guess not," I said, chuckling, "and I seem to remember my training supervisor advising me against face-licking. But you're getting better; there was a time, not too long ago, when humor wouldn't have been something you used to help you cope. I'll see you next week."

Williams was right and so was Linus when he said, "Happiness is a warm puppy." Facing our demons and breaking through the deceptions they've thrown up to prevent us from seeing them for what they are, is far from easy. When we seek help doing so, we're going to have days when we feel lousy because we're eliminating the comfort denial creates. And that's what we have to do if we're going to live meaningfully. And for some, that means really living for the very first time.

(Creative Commons image by Soggydan Dan Bennett via Flickr)
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