The Witness Protection Program Am I the witness or is my therapist the witness? I witness myself. My therapist joins me in that witnessing. So, who needs protecting?
Obviously it’s me. Unlike the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program, we, who join the therapeutic witness protection program, will not need protection forever. In fact, joining the restorative witnessing empowers and emboldens those who participate.
One of the oddities I encountered witnessing myself is that I discovered that I needed protection from MYSELF. Huh, you ask? I know, I know. I’m a bit confused here too. We need to explore now the concept of protection and from what or who is protection provided? Let’s visit a cultural icon – Pac-Man.
Pac-Man has enemies and their names are Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. Some of our enemies that we may be named fear, shame, anger, and melancholy. The enemies of Pac-Man chase him and our enemies chase us too.
Pac-Man is the classic computer game released way back in 1980. Since then there have been thousands upon thousands of games to download on computers/tablets/smartphones. We can ‘enjoy’ being chased by evil demon monkeys in ‘Temple Run’. We can have ‘fun’ avoiding all those zombies who chase us in too many games to count.
We can become Merida the heroine from the animated feature from Disney “Brave” and outrun Mordu the demon bear. Being chased is a theme common in kids’ movies. In ‘Epic’ our heroes, M.K., Nod, and General Nonin are chased by Mandrake, leading his forces of evil. In the chronicles of kids’ stories,
Bambi was chased and so was Lady, the beloved Cocker Spaniel by the dog catcher and mean street dogs in Walt Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”.
It is known that the most archetypal nightmare is the one in which we’re not able to run fast enough while being chased. And most of us have been chased – either in reality or in our imaginations. The terror of running and trying to hide and avoid dying is an overwhelming experience.
But you know what I’ve found – in my middle class American life where few physical dangers exist? I’ve found that my fear mostly resides inside myself. And what have I feared the most? Being Found Out – by ME!
See, I do not want to be caught by those aspects of me that I find scary and distasteful. So I run. And hide. And refuse to stop and take an attentive look at the ‘danger’ I am running from.
I seek protection. I don’t want to engage in witnessing unlike the Federal program in which the witness has already witnessed. So, we seek protection BEFORE witnessing and they do so AFTER witnessing.
Can I say one more time how my therapist is great? Well, I will. She sees me running and hiding. But she doesn’t tell me to STOP. She comes with me and slowly yet slowly encourages me to slow down and look back at those terrifying images. And I slowly yet slowly I learn that they weren’t as terrifying as I had believed. I begin to SEE them; witness them.
Yep, sometimes it’s still hard to keep from running and hiding. I mean, who wants to actually see themselves as ‘selfish’, ‘controlling’, ‘proud’, ‘angry’, ‘petty’, and so on. But, I’ve learned that if a person does not look squarely at their WHOLE person, become a witness, they will always be on the run, being chased, trying to keep from ‘killed’ by the truth.
But there’s no ‘dying’ with the truth – there is freedom from fear and freedom from lies. Maybe the time has come to understand that most of us do not have physical dangers to flee and to realize we no longer need to identify those ‘ugly’ parts of ourselves as threats.
The therapeutic witness protection program is where the therapist provides a safe place to witness and become whole. Eventually we’ll be able to let go of protection and stop running and stop hiding. Until then, we can be grateful that this program is made available for most of us who enter the therapy relationship.