REPOST: To Come Out of The Shadows: To Be or Not To Be

Originally posted on July 8, 2014. 

My Dear Readers,

Many assume that psychotherapists like myself  can look into a person’s eyes and see the trueness of the individual.  Of course, that is not true.  When a person comes to the therapeutic session, he or she brings their individual truth, or more specifically, what they view to be their truth, with them.

Even without a face-to-face encounter, we can still sense pain and suffering. We can still uncover and discover what lies within the psychological self and work towards recovery.

Where the homicide detective speaks for the dead, the psychotherapist can assist the living to find one’s voice.

Below is such a story…


Dear Visible Man,

I am a 28 year-old black male, I am educated, and I have an excellent job in corporate America.  And, I have had sex with five different women in the past week.

I am writing because I want to examine my behavior.  I view myself as a product of my environment, meaning I associate with a group of men who, for lack of a better word, chase skirts and keep tabs on the numbers of hits they make.  I have come to seriously question what I am doing.  I know what I am doing is not right and I am playing with the feelings of these women.  I believe I am now at the place in my life in which I want to be in a serious relationship.

I have decided to start attending church again and engaging in activities with other people of my age.  What do you think of my chances of turning this around and finding a good relationship?

Tired of Trolling, Seattle, WA


Dear Trolling,

I received your correspondence with great interest, curiosity and a lot of questions.  I sense a combination of fatigue and regret, but what’s missing is a direct sense of shame in your actions and behavior.

I am curious as to why you chose “Trolling” as your signature.  The term trolling can be defined in several ways; such as a means of fishing with a baited line, a person singing in a carefree manner, and finally, a way of provoking others.

Now comes the question (s):

  • Why are you really writing?
  • What is there to gain by staying in the shadows?
  • Are you standing at the crossroads?  If so, will you continue the same behaviors or go in a different direction?

“What do you think my chances of turning this around and finding a good relationship?”

I have two responses.  Indulge me.

Response #1: In a few short terms….

  • POOR
  • Absolutely not!
  • A snowball’s chance in hell

Response #2: You are lying to yourself.

  • You are hiding in the shadows, refusing to reveal your true self .
  • You are conflicted, wanting your cake and seeking to eat it at the same time.
  • You are wounded, yet you are fearful of healing the wound.

Young Man,

Stop trolling. Life is not carefree and most importantly, there is no free lunch.  If you want the meal, prepare to pay for what you eat or in this situation, prepare to pay for your actions.  Use the following model of RACE (responsibility, accountability, consequences and empowerment), come out of the shadows and allow the light to shine upon you. You may find that reality can be empowering.

You seek to place blame for your actions, on your environment (that is, the group of skirt chasers you have aligned yourself with.)  Stop being a victim and take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions.

Be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Since you chose this path, why did you seek membership in such an illustrious group of fine young men?
  • What privileges or prestige did they offer you?
  • What are the actions and behaviors of the group that causes you to reject group membership?

You chose to associate with these people because they offered you something you value, and in rejecting that group, you fear that you are losing that privilege and prestige.  Instead, have the willingness to:

  • Prepare for the pressure of the group to force your return.
  • Prepare yourself for the new direction that may be unknown to you.
  • Reinforce and validate yourself as you go alone without the protection and safety of the group.

You have a successful life, a life desired by many, but you want it to be carefree.  As it was stated earlier, there is no free lunch.  Seek ACCOUNTABILITY for actions taken.

Be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want (or need) continuous and meaningless sexual encounters to fulfill me?
  • Do I love me?  If I do love me, then why am I seeking others to fulfill me?
  • Do I truly desire change?  How do I account for my actions?

Be willing to assume accountability for your actions. These are things you will carry as you walk the journey of life, for they cannot be undone. In assuming accountability, have the willingness to:

  • Acknowledge the damage you have done to others and yourself.
  • Take witness to your actions, valuing and validating the experience.
  • Advocate.  Share with others what you have experienced and learned.

You may be successful, but your actions are indicative of an individual who is emotionally wounded and psychologically injured.  Your endless use of sexual encounters attest that you are searching for something. CONSEQUENCES are reactions to what we “do or do not do.”

Be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

  • So in my longing, my search, what have I fulfilled?  What have I found?
  • When I stare into the mirror, what creature do I see?
  • When I go to bed or wake up, whom is the person laying next to me?

Be willing to acknowledge the impact your behaviors may have on others, especially the women who have strong feelings for you.  In understanding the consequences of what was done (or not), live with the knowledge that these women:

  • Will carry a searing wound along with your memory. Their dreams and desires, which included you, will go unrealized and unfulfilled.
  • They will take the awareness of being “played, used, or toyed” into future relationships and in doing so; the innocent will be made to suffer for your behaviors.

EMPOWERMENT is energy, a force that burns and builds from within.  It thrives on the human core values of belief, faith and trust.  Can you look within?

Be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I truly seeking change from within or new fertile ground in which to resume old behaviors?
  • Can one who has done bad things transform into doing good?
  • As I turn around to examine the journey so far traveled, what have I learned?

The person who can answer these questions is the one who seeks the answer—you.  Just be aware that:

  • One can run away and yet one cannot hide.. hide from self.
  • As all travelers know…wherever one goes, the baggage is likely to follow.
  • Self is the first person one sees upon awaking and the last one before sleep.

Concluding Words

Young Man, come out of the shadows. As you stated,

“I want to be locked down in a serious relationship.”

Have the willingness to ask yourself the following questions:

  • When you are locked down, whom will you trust to hold the key to your freedom?
  • Under what terms will you be allowed out?
  • Since when does the inmate give the guard the key to his freedom?

Young Man,

In responding to your writing and without knowing who you are and what your experiences have been, I have looked into the psychological self of an individual who has been wounded and who is likely to continue to wound others unless there is an intervention.

The goal of seeking a serious relationship will not remove, seal or help you “forget” the pain that you have been carrying. You, like others, deserve a life without pain and suffering, and given that, bear the responsibility of not creating pain and suffering for others.  I urge you to seek therapeutic assistance.

To achieve a positive outcome in therapy, you must be willing to let go of societal beliefs that seeking therapy is an acknowledgement that you are crazy.  Instead, you can live in the truth that you are struggling on the journey you are traveling and that therapy can be a way of is responding to the wounds that have impacted your life.

Come out of the shadows.  As you stand at your crossroads, I wish you the very best.  Safe journeys.

The Visible Man

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