“All human behaviour is purposeful, without exception.” – William Glasser, psychiatrist
“…but the biggest burden to her parents and siblings.”
Xandria was a stout, middle aged woman of 48 with a slight accent, who started her first consultation by saying she was a ‘sinner,’ going to hell and didn’t know what she could do about it.
To backtrack for a moment, Xandria had said in her initial call, she was having a spiritual crisis. She told me she was a widowed woman with a son and two granddaughters. She had been raised in a large Catholic family in Eastern Europe. She noted she was the baby of the family but the biggest burden to her parents and siblings.
Xandria worked in the public service in an administrative position. Her husband, Winston, had died of a sudden heart attack five years previously. Her son, Xabat, (apparently a variation of Winston), was the focus of her life, augmented by his twin daughters, Xana and Xara, who were just turning five years old.
Once we got past all the preliminaries, I asked Xandria why she thought she was a sinner and going to hell.
“…bluish skin at times on my lips and fingernails…”
“As I mentioned when I called you, I was the baby in my family and I was also very sickly all though my childhood. Not just with the usual childhood diseases of measles and mumps, but also severe, congenital heart disease.”
“How did that impact your family, Xandria?” I asked wondering where this would lead.
“Ken, I still remember having attacks of rapid, hyper breathing; I had bluish skin at times on my lips and fingernails; I showed poor weight gain all through my youth, and felt tired much of the time and so missed a lot of school. You can imagine the stress on my parents with five other kids all close in age to me.” she replied, the guilt and remorse pasted on her face.
“It sounds like a tough time for everyone…but still, not unusual for large families, in my experience. What made it so bad for you, besides the physical symptoms you had to deal with, that has left you thinking you’re a sinner, Xandria?”
“My parents both had to work just to feed us and cover my medical costs. They had no time for their growing family. My Dad worked night shift at a local factory while my Mom took in other kids to care for so they could pay the bills.”
“Sounds like you had a challenging upbringing, Xandria.”
“It’s really hard to say out loud.”
“I remember during the recovery from one of my surgeries, laying on the couch watching my Mom and realizing how exhausted she was. And, realizing Dad was upstairs sleeping for his next shift that night…it was just a terrible time and mostly because of me.” she said, her eyes glistening over.
“It sounds like it was a tough time for you and as well, you watched your family struggling. How did you cope, Xandria?”
“I spent a lot of time alone, by myself, reading, watching TV and sleeping.” she replied.
“Since you didn’t get to pick your heart condition or the family into which you were born, I’m wondering why you are being so hard on yourself about your upbringing?” I said.
“Ken, I made it much worse than it needed to be. I sinned in a way that disrespected all that my parents were trying to do in raising us!” she said, with a dogmatic tone in her voice.
“What did you do, Xandria?”
“It’s really hard to say out loud. It almost makes it worse if I do…it makes it even more true…do you know what I mean, Ken?” her voice tripping over her own words.
“Xandria, I’ve learned there are no mistakes in life, only learning opportunities. That means whenever there is pain, there has to be an equal measure of pleasure at the same time. So, let’s find the two sides of what you did.”
“Suppose atomic bombs had reduced the population of the world to one brother and one sister, should they let the human race die out? I do not know the answer, but I do not think it can be in the affirmative merely on the ground that incest is wicked.” – Bertrand Russell, philosopher
“…there were a lot of lonely times…”
She hesitated, looked at me one last time, put her head down to stare at her folded hands in her lap and said in a whisper,
“I had ‘sex’ with my brother several times!”
“What do you mean by ‘sex,’ Xandria?”
“Xavier is a year older than me. When we were about six and seven years of age, we had to share a bed for a few years. He would let me play with his genitals at night. I really enjoyed it and I think he did, too! But, it is wrong and sinful.” she added.
“Being the youngest in your family and being the sickest as well…it must have been lonely at times…being in a hospital, missing your family, missing your friends, missing a lot of things, really. Was that what it was like, Xandria?” I asked wondering if she had really ever shared these aspects of her childhood.
“Yes…there were a lot of lonely times…but, my parents were so busy keeping our family together, paying my medical bills, getting through each day…I can’t blame them for me feeling ignored and forgotten…they were paying to keep me alive, eh?” she said with the question at the end to catch a confirmation from me of her perception of the situation.
“Xandria, how did you cope with your heart condition? How did you cope with the emotional burden of being sick, vulnerable and dependent at that time in your life?” I asked, to get her to own her own loneliness and despair of that period of her life.
“I was terrified! I thought I was going to die!
“My exchanges with my parents were usually about my meds or my recovery…something about my health. My parents were so overwhelmed by their family responsibilities, they didn’t have much time for affection for me.”
“Even though you don’t think your parents did it intentionally, it looks like you felt abandoned emotionally as a young child. Is that true, Xandria?” I asked and waited patiently for her to own the truth of her past.
This time the tears erupted from her eyes and ran down her cheeks, as she tried to wipe them away with a brisk swipe of her hand.
I waited for a bit, then I said,
“So, it was a really tough time for you too, wasn’t it? And, you felt scared, alone and abandoned, did you not, Xandria?”
She burst out angrily with, “I was terrified! I thought I was going to die! Every time I went in for surgery, I thought I would never see my family again! And, no one ever talked about it with me!”
“How did you cope, Xandria? How did you deal with all that as a child?”
“I felt so unloved, so powerless, so abandoned! I really don’t know how I got through it, Ken!” she said, regaining her composure.
“You coped the only way you knew how.”
“I do! One way you felt some measure of love and power was with your brother, Xavier. Sexual play is very common, and normal, among children. Along with masturbation, it is how they learn about the pleasure of sex and the social and cultural rules involved. Sex is one of the primary ways we learn about personal power.”
“Are you saying the sexual play I engaged in with my brother helped me feel loved and powerful?” she asked in surprise.
“Ask yourself that? You were a very young child in a big, busy, overwhelmed family, feeling afraid, alone, powerless and facing life threatening medical treatments. You coped the only way you knew how.”
“That doesn’t make it right! That doesn’t mean it is not a sin!” she retorted.
“Xandria, that’s human optional religious values, not nature’s imperative biological command to survive.”
“What do you mean?” she said, confusion floating up from her face.
“Nature has designed humanity for survival. Simply put, that means you are here today talking about past events which contributed to your survival in a very important way.”
“Are you saying that makes it OK?”
“Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.” – Frank Herbert, author
“…It is not just OK,…it’s truthful, it’s honest…”
“I’m saying it makes it OK for you because it was the only option you could see at that time to cope with the demands for your survival. It was an unconscious attempt to survive a very difficult situation. And, you did survive, congratulate yourself!”
“Yes, but what about the guilt I feel, Ken?”
“The guilt you are creating is because you are not using your values to judge it, but those of someone else. This creates the pain you experience. But the other half of the event is, you experienced being loved and powerful at the same moment, which enabled you to get through into the next moment of your life.”
“Do you mean, there was both pain and pleasure doing the incest with my brother?”
“Yes, that’s it exactly, Xandria! Just like every other moment of your life, and mine, it is a combination of half pain and half pleasure…it is nature’s law of balance!”
“So, it is OK for me to see both sides?” she asked, starting to ingest the idea of nature’s duality.
“It is not just OK, Xandria, it’s truthful, it’s honest and it enables you to honour your past and get on with your future.”
“… everyone is trying to figure out how they fit in this universe!”
“Ken, that explains something that’s been confusing me for a long time. Several years ago I asked Xavier if he remembered those years of sharing a bed and what happened. And, he said he did, but we were, in his words, “just kids playing around.”
“How do you understand that now, Xandria?”
“I guess he wasn’t traumatized by it. He really brushed if off as nothing very earth shattering to him. Of course, he has a very different spirituality than I do.” she said, thoughtfully.
“I think you raised a very important point, Xandria. Perhaps, you are also being challenged, by your life experiences, to evolve you own spirituality. Did that ever occur to you?”
“I’m coming to realize that’s really what may be going on here. I have been struggling for many years to decide what I believe. I find it harder and harder to tolerate the abuses of power I see by religious figures. It’s driving me to re-evaluate everything I have believed for many, many years, Ken.”
“You have lots of company on that journey…in fact, everyone is trying to figure out how they fit in this universe!”
Then, I added, “What I’m curious about is how this discussion we’ve had today has impacted your views of the events between you and Xavier many years ago.”
“Because, it sounds like those events enabled you to survive those challenging days in your past. And, while they have generated a lot of guilt and confusion, they equally generated a sense of personal power and of being loved, which you needed at that time in your life to survive. And, you did!” I said.
“We are all driven to figure how how we are wiser and stronger…”
“That is true, but why look at it that way instead of the right way…that it was a sin.” Xandria replied.
“Because I don’t think the ‘sin’ perspective works for you anymore when you look at it truthfully with both sides in full view. It looks more like an unconscious coping strategy by a child trying to fight off hopelessness and helplessness, by finding someone who cared about her and valued her. Is that not true, Xandria?”
Again, she stared long and hard at me. Then, she dropped her gaze to her hands again and said softly,
“Yes! That is the truth of it! I loved my brother then as I do now. But I felt so lost and alone and really forgotten during that time.”
“So, the fact you’re alive and well today with a family that loves you, tells me you coped well every day, every minute and every second of your life. But, in keeping with nature’s law of balance you had equal pain with every pleasure.”
“So, you’re telling me my incest experiences benefitted me because they got me through those times…is that it?”
“Yes, exactly! How do you think the rest of the world deals with their traumas? We are all driven to figure how we are wiser and stronger because of our past traumas, otherwise we are destined to repeat it in a new form. It is nature’s way to ensure our learning and survival.” I offered.
“So, I’m smarter and stronger because of it…is that it?” she asked, her skepticism showing.
“Only you can decide that Xandria. But, you look, to me, like you are doing quite OK in your life. Is that not true?”
“Yes…really I am…when I stop and think about it…as I’ve done today.”
“So, the real challenge for you may be to redefine your spirituality, perhaps redefine your god. Are you up for that, Xandria?”
“Would you help me do that?”
“It would be my privilege, Xandria!”
“OK! Can we start there next time, Ken?”
“Done!” I said.
“Usefulness is the hallmark of everything in nature!”- King Ayles, writer
Until Next time…
Now you know, every behaviour you have ever displayed has been to help you survive that moment in your life, regardless of what others may think. So, it cannot be a mistake for you to have done it, since you are alive, smarter and stronger because of it. If you have anything you are still regretting doing, go back, right now, and uncover how it served you. Then you can focus your time and energy on your future where all your choices lay.
REMEMBER, this wonderful opportunity! Dr. John Demartini, is going to be in Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 22 & 23, 2017 facilitating The Breakthrough Experience™ seminar. His daughter Alana and I will be assisting him.
This is your chance to start designing your own destiny. Results are guaranteed and there is no better investment than yourself. If you like the ideas you have read here, you will love this seminar. Check it out at:
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Be well…balanced! Ken
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