(out of todays TAT newsletter:)
"Here's a story from TAT Trainer Dick Morrill about how the shift for someone he was working with happened in an unusual and beautiful way.
I just have to share an incredible experience I had recently in a TAT session that I did with an old friend. We have a lot in common: we're both carpenters, both in the theater, both went to Viet Nam and both came home with PTSD.
I had wanted to do TAT with him for about ten years, but was always a little shy about approaching him, or if I did mention it he wasn't ready to hear about it at the time. Well, I called him last weekend to tell him about the death of a mutual friend in the theater, and we got to talking about what we were doing these days, and I told him about TAT. The time was right, and we finally made an appointment to do it.
Once again, I was a little anxious. I knew that he had had some real traumas while in Viet Nam, and that he had PTSD, including nightmares, etc., but we had never sat down to talk about the specifics. When he told me some of his stories, the workshop we did in Columbus, GA came to mind because my friend was an Army Ranger, an expert at his job, and, like one of the vets in GA, he also fell out of a helicopter from about 50 feet. [Dick was one of five TAT Trainers who led a workshop for military personnel and combat veterans in Columbus, Georgia last year. To read more, clic k here].
So that's all background.
As I led him through the opening step about TAT being too easy to work, something happened, although I saw no change in his face or posture, etc. When he put his hands down he told me that, at first, what I was saying seemed superficial. Then as I was saying that "TAT could be of some help", he noticed his focus "migrating to in front of his eyes". As he was telling me about how he had been aware of that shift in his thinking, all of a sudden he noticed there was still a shift happening. He asked, rhetorically, "What's happening? Something's happening" (as opposed to asking, " What happened?"), and tears started coming to his eyes. He/ we were actually watching the shift happen, as it was happening...while his hands were in his lap.
He had never thought about the fact that he deserved to live, and deserved happiness and PEACE. And now, he was watching himself become aware of it all. Mind you, we haven't gotten to Step 1 yet. He kept repeating, "What's happening?" as it unfolded. I think he may have even said, "What's happening to me?"
We were together for 3 hours, and yet only had time to do three steps, so I let him pick which third step he wanted to do. He had been adamant about not forgiving his commanding officer (and others in his life), and from the stories he told, he had plenty of reason for this. I had talked a lot about the importance of forgiveness, but he was pretty rigid about it.
Nonetheless, he chose to do the forgiveness steps, and after he put his hands down, he was still unforgiving, but around 5 to 10 seconds later, once again he/we watched as the shift happened, and the resistance to forgiving faded away...AS WE WATCHED. And gradually he couldn't find the hate any more, hard as he tried. He was aware that the guy did what he did, and it was all in the past. There was a lot of laughter. He kept pointing out that it was actually funny, but he could not hate him anymore.
Another thing he saw was how funny it was that he came to look upon his PTSD as something he was "grateful for". "How could that possibly be?", he kept asking. But he became aware that without his PTSD he would not have met his wife and gotten to where he is now, with a loving family with three wonderful, loving children. And he saw how important it was that he let all this go, because his children deserved a peaceful untroubled father, not one who was filled with the stress of hate, who would, maybe, "make it 'til 65, and then die". And then he sat there noticing how he was forgiving all the people he had resented in his life, like watching film clips of all those people flashing slowly before his eyes, and noticing, one at a time, that he didn't hate them any more, that he couldn't hate them any more. Meanwhile, he's laughing and crying through all of this discovery of who he truly is.
The amazing thing was to watch it happening. When he put his hands down each time, that was when he would be aware that a "shift" had happened, but several times he/we watched as the "shift" was actually happening, and he would tell me that something was happening, but he was courageous enough to let it happen, and to watch, as all that deeply held, deeply hidden stress dissolved.
And as far as his "identity" of being a Green Beret, he said, "A green beret is a HAT! I'm not a hat. I'm me; a loving father, family man, with a home, a wonderful life, and a lot of Love."
I felt like I had just watched a miracle happen. How blessed are we to get to see that?
I spoke with him on the phone a few days later, and he said his wife couldn't believe that 40 years of hating could be gone in just one 3-hour session.
Someone asked me what I was doing if the session lasted 3 hours and we only had time to do 3 Steps. I was simply being present... and I listened.
(made me cry, it is so beautiful)