People Targeted for Destruction

Dear Tim and Diane,1

It is hard to believe that the Pre-World Conference was six months ago. With a few months of lots of discharge, and direction from great Co-Counseling leaders, I am actually going to not only write this, but send it! It is rather long, because I want to tell you what I am doing and also a little about me.

First of all, thank you for not discouraging me when I asked about a reference person for “people targeted for destruction.” I have used many sessions to work on what I was after2 there.

I have discharged a lot on frozen needs3 to be acknowledged and included. I have discharged a lot about saving people. I have discharged about where it is easy for me to get overwhelmed and give up. I have discharged about early disappointments and loss. I have discharged about internalized class expectations and “mental health” oppression. The process has been enlightening and has given me the courage to continue discharging every little piece.

As I have shared my experience of teaching Co-Counseling to people marked for destruction, leaders I respect and ask to reference me have all indicated that I need to connect with you and let you know what I am thinking and doing. My initial reactions and need for discharge are why it has taken so long to write.

People have accused me of being anti-authority and isolated and lots of other stuff. These are the “thoughts” that have come up for me: “I just want to do the work.” “No one is interested in what I am doing, as they are busy doing what they have to do.” “Someone will tell me I’m doing it wrong and stop me. And then what will I do?” After a lot of discharge, I decided to take the direction that you want to know me, and that it is important to you to know what I am thinking and doing. And that I can trust you to think well about me.

OUR CONSTITUENCY

Standing up for and welcoming those of us who have difficult lives that are made more difficult by the systems that are designed to “help” us is important to me. Our constituency benefits so much from just basic RC theory. Re-evaluation Counseling is life saving and life affirming for us in a way that is different from other constituencies. Hearing the realities in RC theory often literally saves our lives, and we recognize this immediately.

I am confused still about whether it makes sense to “name” our constituency, as it is so diverse. I understand that we are talking about the impact of various oppressions.

I am in this constituency. I have struggled with addictions, suicide, homelessness, abusive relationships, single parenting, single grandparenting. I have been in the foster-care system, the legal system, the court system, the school system. My children have been shot, imprisoned, and beaten, and have beaten others. In the face of all this, it is difficult to sustain stability. I know firsthand the callousness and indifference toward people who are unable to sustain themselves in the way society dictates.

As Co-Counselors, we are careful about whom we offer RC to, and I understand the logic: it is important for people to be able to give as well as receive attention. But we in this constituency learn how to do that as well as anyone else. It can take a while for us to be good Community members, but not because we aren’t able to function well. It’s because “experienced” Community members haven’t done their own work on being able to stay present with us, and being willing to offer us a session should we begin to share something that is “clienting.” Some of us are still trying to figure out how to respond to “How are you?” without “clienting”! Our constituency can benefit greatly from the skills (such as being able to thoughtfully remind people about how to function in Community settings) and experience of aware Co-Counselors. I think I am one of those Co-Counselors, and I am pleased with the results of my work.

A WIDE-WORLD CLASS

I am currently teaching RC theory and practice at Mile High Council on Addictions and Mental Health. My daughter Frances is my support person, and Christie Miller Gosch, our Area4 Reference Person, initially attended our classes.

I was asked to teach “Life Skills.” I tried to do what fit their curriculum, but the women had no attention for that. Instead, it made sense to just listen to them and teach them how to listen to me and each other. The group of eight to fifteen women developed nicely into a weekly group that has met for the past year. Initially the staff was confused and worried that the women would have “meltdowns” and the therapists would have to “put them back together.”

Frances and I did an RC introductory lecture for the director and the therapists. We said that what the women were learning and practicing prepared them to be present in and use their therapy sessions better. The director and therapists reported that they were in fact seeing this big change, and that they were pleased about it. After that the two therapists sat in on our classes. Initially, when it came time for mini-sessions they would suddenly have to “do something,” but now they are more comfortable. (The big barrier for them is that they must maintain their role as “supervisor” over the women they serve.) Now they see that we know what we are doing, and they have turned their classes over to us.5

As the women complete their program at Mile High Council, they will be able to be in a regular RC class. I’ve decided to make the transition with a women’s support group in my home. We are doing everything we do in a regular fundamentals class— “news and goods,” theory, and splitting time6—but with a lot more flexibility for talk, questions, up-and-outs,7 and laughter. We try to work in light ways and use a lot of humor so we don’t get sunk. I keep a lot of attention on what we have done well and what we are proud of. It is inspiring to see the changes in our ability to advocate for ourselves, and build support around ourselves where we thought there was none. I will be inviting five to eight of the women to participate in a more structured RC fundamentals class.

SOME THOUGHTS FROM THE CLASS

The following is some thinking from the class participants about what they are up against and how RC has been valuable:

  • People have given up on us. Just hearing that we are good and that there has never been anything wrong with us has often literally saved our lives.
  • We are required to pick ourselves up with no support, or with rigid support that does not reflect our individual needs. RC theory and practice affirm for us that we are not failures, that we are not alone, and that we can think about our needs and show up8 and advocate for ourselves.
  • The basics needed for living are withheld or limited, creating a vulnerability sure to cause more pain. RC theory and practice help us make long-range plans even as we struggle with the requirements of daily living. We understand that we are up against restimulation and that we actually have power today.
  • People around us have little attention for the things we need to talk about. RC theory and practice provide information and opportunity to bare our souls, feel hopeful about our importance, and practice listening to others and teaching them to listen to us. We love to practice!
  • We are treated as though our failures are personal and do not warrant compassion; we are intertwined with our failures. In RC we get a chance to reconnect with our humanity. As we listen to others, we get to see and be seen in a way that is almost nonexistent otherwise.
  • We are forced to agree with others that we are failures and that we need someone to treat us like children so that we can be brought into line. We are not respected. Through being listened to, we are able to tell9 that we have actually been triumphant in our ability to live. We may have to look like we are conforming, and we can be grateful for any support available, but we know that there is a much bigger picture and that will keep us from “losing our minds.” We are treated with respect in our RC relationships.
  • We are told not to cry, or feel anger, or look at how we got here, since it’s assumed that has nothing to do with the condition of our lives. In our sessions, we get to cry and grieve for all our losses—of time, people, opportunities, and parts of ourselves.
  • The sheer volume of oppressions and systems to deal with creates immense barriers to healing and stability. A session offers a respite, brings a balance of attention,10 and helps us discharge some terror.

Here is their thinking about this constituency’s strengths, as far as becoming good Co-Counselors and Community leaders:

  • We connect instantly with RC information. It is what we have always hoped for.
  • We are good listeners. We have been listening, and searching for humans through their distress, for a long time.
  • We are empathetic. We know how it feels to be blamed.
  • We want to be the best we can, to and for our children, against all odds.
  • We are friendly and loving people, and we know how to back11 others.

MY OWN STORY

I have used RC theory and practice to battle any and all of the things that would cause me to give up, and I continue to do so.

My initial teaching of RC was an attempt to reach parents. My classes were tough, because we didn’t have childcare. The allies usually got overwhelmed and abandoned us. They could tell I wasn’t thinking well about how to make things work, and they probably didn’t know how to either. It was a great experience. Many women and men got to cry about getting hit and hitting. Lots of people learned about taking turns listening. Many of them still practice today with each other, and some are still in RC.

Because I worked in corporate environments, I also began teaching RC to more middle- and owning-class people. I know about being careful about going public with RC, but it never made sense to me not to tell people about it. I did it well, and brought a few people into the Community. Meanwhile, my own family was using me as a one-way counselor. I made the decision to focus on my family.

All four of my children have participated in a fundamentals class I led. All four have participated in family work.12 My three sons have attended men’s workshops. Two of my sons attend a monthly young men’s support group. My son Chris recently attended a Native workshop, which moved so much for him. My sons still struggle to get session time, but when they need it and it seems I am their only source, I make sure we share time. They are great counselors. My daughter Frances is extensively involved in using RC to move her life and the lives of her children forward. She and I continue to back each other’s leadership. My grandchildren have also done family work, and some of them have attended support groups and fundamentals classes. My granddaughter Veronica attended her first Native workshop last year. I am getting more and more help and support from my family as they recognize that I am serious about healing being the natural way for us to stay healthy and that discharge is our tool and RC is our community.

In my own life, I have learned to use what I know about myself and others for building good relationships that support me through hard times. I have cleaned up and built and maintained great relationships with my previous partners, and they are great allies to me and my children. (One is in RC and attends a weekly class.) That never could have happened without my RC experience. I have cleaned up my relationships with my sisters and brothers, and we no longer run13 our restimulation about childhood issues at each other. My next step is to do a workshop for my family at our next family reunion, or possibly before. I want to bring us closer together. I want to help break down how we sometimes get callous and indifferent toward our children or their partners, because of our own fears for them.

I like to dance, and do crossword and any other kind of puzzle. I practice handwriting analysis, walk, and read a lot. I’m trying to learn to play, not just pretend, when I am with children. I am working on my health issues and defining next steps for myself.

WHAT I DO IN RC

Along with the above, this is what I do in the RC Community:

Most importantly, I get a long session or at least several mini-sessions every day. I have a diverse group of Co-Counselors and reference people who think about me well. I try not to think of RC as something to do but rather what I need to live well. I am in a weekly class (which I struggle with only because of work and family responsibilities and which I do my best to attend). I lead a people-targeted-by-racism group once a month. I lead a fundamentals class once a week with eight women (not the Mile High Council group). It is diverse in terms of class, ethnicity, religion, and life experiences—and most of the participants can pay something for classes! We love each other very much. I am connected with my Regional14 Reference Person; we do phone time15 every Monday and then take time to think about our leadership. I am connected with my Area Reference Person and Alternate Area Reference Person and Co-Counsel with them regularly. I attend a Native leaders’ monthly group. I do my best to attend several other Community activities.

WHAT'S HARD FOR ME

These are some of the things that are hard for me:

I have difficulty writing, because as soon as I write something, or even say something, my thoughts seem to change. Or there are so many elements or ways to think about things that something is true and not true at the same time. I am discharging on this.

I can’t believe anyone is interested in what I am doing. I don’t trust that people will look at my whole situation. I feel they will only judge me on my struggles.

I still play a large role in the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren—not because they aren’t doing well, but because the resource required to both parent and work just isn’t there for all of us yet and we have to help each other.

I don’t like having to counsel everyone in order to make space for myself.

I am having difficulty leading my people-targeted-by-racism support group. My Regional Reference Person is supporting me in this area.

I took a break (possibly a complete break) from doing consulting work for companies. I did this so I could discharge my frozen need to belong and the restimulation that caused me to take on16 responsibilities that didn’t make sense.

I am in the process of redefining my work. I clean houses for a living. It is hard work, but it has a beginning and an end. It allows me time to look for projects I want to work on. It gives me time to spend with the children in my life. I still hope to use my experience working in a capitalist system for something good.

I often feel bad about not having classes that can put money into the RC Community. I feel grateful but guilty when I get to go to RC workshops and can’t pay. I try to pay when I can. I am discharging about money, and that it is possible to do good work and sustain myself.

It hurts to be sixty-two and just finding myself.

All of these things I am discharging about, and obviously I am hopeful!

With love and appreciation,

Veronica LaCrue
Denver, Colorado, USA


1 Tim Jackins and Diane Shisk
2 “What I was after” means what I wanted.
3 “Frozen need” is a term used in RC for a hurt that results when a rational need is not met in childhood. The hurt compels a person to keep trying to fill the need in the present, but the frozen need cannot be filled; it can only be discharged.
4 An Area is a local RC Community.
5 “Turned their classes over to us” means given us their classes to teach.
6 “Splitting time” means taking turns receiving the attention of the group.
“Up-and-outs” are playful ways to bring people’s attention to the present.
8 “Show up” means be visible
9 “Tell” means perceive, see.
10 “A balance of attention” means enough of our attention to good reality that we can discharge.
11 “Back” means support.
12 “Family work” is the application of Re-evaluation Counseling to the particular situations of young people, and families with young children. It entails young people and adults (both parents and allies) interacting in ways that allow young people to show and be themselves and to not be dominated by the adults.
13 “Run” means act out.
14 A Region is a subdivision of the RC Community, usually consisting of several Areas.
15 “Phone time” means Co-Counseling sessions on the phone.
16 “Take on” means undertake.


Last modified: 2015-08-28 16:37:43-07