Processing Disappointment #12

Let’s call her Mrs. Jones, just in case she reads this blog.

She colored my life early on.  Her role in my universe was to know everyone’s emotions.  If Jimmy Smith was going to his first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Jones “knew” exactly how traumatic this was for Mrs. Smith, and she coached us all on how to wisely and skillfully sympathize with Mrs. Smith in her deep pain, if we should happen to see her.

As a matter of fact, Mrs. Smith joyfully dropped Jimmy off at the school steps and raced off to the beauty salon to have a facial, hair cut, perm, nails and a pedicure done – without once hearing the word, “Moooooooommy!”

It did not matter how often Mrs. Jones was wrong about what other people were feeling.  And it certainly did not matter how much data you brought to the table about how other people were REALLY feeling.  She “knew” that this is what they were feeling inside, and even if Mrs. Smith appeared to be having a blast making herself feel beautiful during four uninterrupted hours without having to be a mommy, Mrs. Jones was absolutely sure that “inside” she was hurting badly over the separation from her little kid.  She just wasn’t as in touch with her feelings as the all-knowing Mrs. Jones was.

The really ugly part of it all, was that Mrs. Jones knew every emotion I had, why I had them and how long I had them – even when I didn’t have any of those emotions.

She was the community psycho-analyst and there was the occasional secret discussion about whether she was psycho or would drive us psycho with her unrelenting analysis.

Tragically, when I left Brazil, Mrs. Jones got cloned and has turned up with disgusting regularity through the decades of my variegated walk.

I never found any grace for Mrs. Jones and her despicable clones.  They all just rubbed me deeply.  I developed a fairly simple process of editing them out of my environment as efficaciously as possible.

As I pondered the discoveries from the last blog on disappointment, I realized that the lack of permission to be on the journey I am actually on, is really one of the deepest, most pervasive sore spots in my life.  Mrs. Jones was the arbiter of legitimate emotions and mine weren’t.

I am certifiably weird.

I feel things differently than most people do.  My emotions about our presidential election, the Chicago Cubs, Aleppo, BLM, Kaepernick, traffic, poor service at a restaurant, comics or LAC are probably going to be different from your emotions about the same things.

And that creates reaction.  Community is broadly about shared values, and I am almost always the odd man out, seeing life from a different perspective than most.

Historically, Mrs. Jones and her ilk have worked hard to make me feel condemned and corrupted for feeling what I feel.  In the last ten years, her work has been embraced by the whole PC culture that joyously bludgeons free speech into oblivion in the name of caring – for someone else!

If I were to live tweet the last presidential debate . . . well, let’s not even go there.

So . . . I learned to edit myself.  Savagely.  What I feel inside, is broadly kept to myself.  Because being me, is altogether too often not embraced by the general public.  They like the edited version of me, if they like me at all.

During the last two weeks of relentless external activity, I have pondered that a lot.  I am hugely in touch with how I feel.  I feel deeply about a whole lot of things.  But, over the last two weeks, I was my usual outward self, syncing broadly to the people around me.  The dual self operated flawlessly.  And a lot of people expressed pleasure in the edited self they met.

So what to do?

Being a dual person seems highly inauthentic.  Not one of my goals in life.

On the flip side, working in personal ministry requires massive control of emotions.  The person on the other end unleashes their claws and projects their anger from a previous person onto me.  After a harsh attack rant, I calmly respond with something designed to de-escalate the situation, rather than expressing my actual feelings about the personal assault.

I ponder Christ and the fact that He had exactly the same problem.  His mom played Mrs. Jones at least twice. And His disciples simply could not track with His emotions on an ordinary day, much less when highly complex dynamics were going down.  So, Jesus did what I did — no wait.  Never!  Ouch.  Freudian slip.  Let’s have a redo to this train of thought.

So I do what Jesus did and maintain an edited persona in public, while pouring out my real feelings to Father, in private.

The logic is impeccable, but there was no release from the tension.

As I chewed on it for a few more days (and nights) I realized one variable.  When people ask me directly what I think about something or another, it is usually safe for me to respond.  My answers are often miles away from where they thought I would be, but are generally received without push back.

Or to put it another way, Mrs. Jones does not ask what I feel.  When someone DOES ask about my emotional perspective of a situation, they are not carrying the Mrs. Jones virus.

I was quite surprised by the flood of warm feelings as I landed there.  I scrolled back through a lot of good memories of discussions that were deep and bilateral, because occasionally someone really DID want to know how I felt about something, and the fact that I was far from where they were, or where they thought I was, actually produced a scintillating conversation, devoid of wounds.

So I did some math.

Mrs. Jones + clones.  One quarter of one percent of my annual exposure to bipeds.

Ministry sessions requiring an impassive presentation.  Three quarters of one percent.

Self-absorbed people, busy with life, never wondering what I feel, and never hurting me.  94 percent.

Wonderful human beings, endowed with wisdom and perspicuity who take the time to honestly feel me out and who grant me full permission to feel what I actually do feel, whether they agree or not.  Five percent.

Sooooooooooo . . . why does Mrs. Jones exert such ginormous influence over my daily life when she represents such a tiny presence in my life?

Early childhood.

Our neuroplasticity is very high in early childhood.  My run ins with Mrs. Jones were traumatic and overpowering.  My inept soul built some huge neurological pathways to some very unhelpful wrong responses.  And her pesky clones re-vaccinated me every once in a while, to keep those pathways well maintained.

The reality is, I have a huge set of tools for dealing with this nonsense.  I just hadn’t seen the nonsense that needed to be dealt with.

I can take the tools from the PTSD album and disconnect from the original incident with Mrs. Jones (which I remember with scary clarity after 58 years – which says something about unfinished business right there).  Then I can very intentionally build some impressive new pathways to the joy and pleasure centers of my brain, using the tools from that album.

At the end of the day, the odds of my interfacing with someone who is interested in how I really feel are vastly greater than the odds of my meeting Mrs. Jones.  And with six months of diligent work, I can bring my pesky brain into alignment with current reality – not childhood.

Inner healing from the spirit of abandonment can only get you up to zero.  It takes active growth to develop a huge belief and a reality of inclusive community.

I can get there.

Did all this really begin with a paddle in the water?   PTSD SLG Coaching blog

Copyright September 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub, early morning.



Processing Disappointment #11

Yes, yes, I know.  We were done with this topic, but apparently God is not.

Yesterday I was on a vintage SLG call — four people, four nations.  Among other things, we were exploring the structures related to abandonment and how each redemptive gift’s structure has a little different shape.

At the end of the call, I was utterly exhausted.  I factored in jet lag and the cadence of the day, but it was clear that going into the call I was in pretty decent shape and something non-physical happened during the call which impacted me very negatively, even though the call was supposedly not about me!

So, I started with the hypothesis that I had an unresolved abandonment issue and it got triggered during the call.  Didn’t know where to look, at first, so I just scrolled through sundry things, waiting for a hit.

It came unexpectedly when I looked at my childhood religion:  Calvinism of the 1950s.  Back then, no Christian had any psychological problems of any sort.  Everything was spiritual or physical.  If it was physical, you saw a doctor.  If it was spiritual, you repented, confessed and everything was immediately OK.

I realized that in Calvinism, there was no journey for the soul.  There was only a decision, a choice and an immediate result.  And when you repented and confessed and things did not immediately change in your inner man – for example, my DID that no one knew I had – then it was clear evidence that I had not REALLY repented, and needed to do it deeper, in a more real way, and then I would be immediately, completely cleansed by God and restored and everything would be OK!

No journeys below zero.

That stream of the faith does believe in a journey of faith above zero.  We grow in maturity, develop character, become more Christlike and many other truisms.  But there were no journeys below zero.  If you had soul issues (which didn’t exist back then) and it took you a period of time to process your emotions, or to heal from a wound, then you were abandoned by the religious stream because you really should resolve it spiritually – quickly!

Just crucify the flesh already and get on with life!!!!

This reminded me a lot of our model for abandonment in the womb.  Mother and child are partners in the grand adventure of life, but if the labor becomes so intense that the mother withdraws from the emotional connection with the child for a bit, in order to deal with her own pain, the child can feel abandoned at the time of the greatest need.

Likewise, in that stream of the faith, at the point of highest need, when I had no clue how to process the maelstrom of emotions in me, I felt the spiritual leadership vigorously withdraw from me, because healing was a choice, not a journey in their worldview.

Two things came into focus very clearly last night.

I now understand why I don’t process my pain in community.  It seems so wrong for me, even though I see so many other people joyously leaning into community and finding immense solace and wisdom in their times of deep pain.  But for me, to even HAVE a journey was illegitimate!  It makes sooooo much sense, now.

AND I had the immense pleasure of seeing that in spite of all that mess, I failed forward.  I could have grown up and become one of them, militantly against journeys.  In reality, because of the crazy making nature of my childhood (DID and being expected to resolve every emotional crisis with confession!!!!) I have become a champion of people’s right to have a journey.

I don’t always approve of the way they walk their journey.  I can’t always walk with them on their journey.  And I certainly have a LOT of people where I can’t help them AT ALL on their journey.  But at the end of the day, I champion each person’s right to wrestle with their relationship with God, themselves and their fellow man, and not fit into a sausage factory.

Those two Ah Ha moments captivated me for a while.

Then I had a deep sinking feeling as I looked at the bigger picture.  Today journeys are more or less legitimate.  People are allowed to have souls nowadays, and our emotions are considered valid once more, and the idea of a journey is widely – though not universally – accepted. HOWEVER, a lot of spiritual leaders have defined the journey in their own way.

So you go to them for help and the answer is their own particular algebraic formula for healing in three easy steps.  You go to the specific classes or ministry sessions or seminars and at the end of the time, you are not “fixed.”  So often the leader then rejects or abandons you and it becomes clear that you SHOULD have been fixed by that process because a lot of other people were, therefore it is obvious that you did not really lean into the process the way you should have.

And this definition of someone else’s journey and abandonment when you don’t find full and complete healing through their process has become rampant in the Body of Christ.

Deep sigh – or groan.

I have no idea where to go with this next.

I am more at peace with my processing in private, not in public.  I understand where it came from, and even though I don’t agree with the ideology behind the cause, I think after 60 years of processing the way I process, it is not necessary for me to become the most prolific public processor.

And I am stoked that God leveraged my pain into my becoming someone who champions people’s right to have a journey that is unique.

Obviously there are still issues related to abandonment which I will chew on IN PRIVATE and theoretically get back to you all with some tools that may, or may not, be applicable to your own UNIQUE journey.

Oh, and please note that our October practicum on abandonment is going to ROCK.

Copyright September 2016 by Arthur Burk

Written at 3:00 a.m. local time since my body is still holding on grimly to California time.


Processing Disappointment #10

I decided to zoom out from the specifics of the high school situation and look at the pattern of the four known Exhorter episodes in the 15.5 year cycle to see if I could find some salient data.

I have opted to not detail the other three situations, but in each case, I found that the giving and receiving that is core to community was trashed.  Each time it was a different way.  It was only the first time I could not receive.  In the others, there was community for a period of time, then serious slippage took place through unique circumstances, but each time related to the dynamics of exchange in community.

At times what I had wasn’t wanted.  At times what was wanted I did not have or could not ethically give.  The enemy was quite creative in producing misalignment in those windows.

The evidence is overwhelming that my intercessor was right and there is a 15.5 year cycle.  Now we have language for it.  Community gets trashed in one way or another because exchange does not happen the way it should.

Now, there is another piece running in the background.

Of the seven portions of my spirit, the Teacher and the Exhorter were the most damaged.  It is quite clear that the damage to the Exhorter portion of my spirit took place on the Exhorter island of Cotijuba, in Brazil, when I was between seven and nine years old.  I have spent a LOT of time over the years working through the healing journey from that season.

God has invested massively in restoring my Exhorter portion.  I find immense joy in the Exhorter color of the majesty of God which seasons the Prophet’s insights into the structures of Design.

BUT at the time of the first episode, my Exhorter portion was in shambles.

So the enemy leveraged my DID, and my damaged Exhorter portion, and the cultural stuff to cause a wrong response to the dynamics of the school during the first time the cycle came around.  That defiled it for the rest of the cycles.  Up until now.

After all this digging, it turns out to be a pretty familiar, ordinary curse on a cycle of time.

So what to do?

First, call it what it is.  I will be spending some time this evening going over each of the four events, sharing with God my perspective of where the giving and receiving broke down.

Second, I will own my junk and reject inappropriate guilt that others and I have put on myself over the years for those situations.

Third, I will feel the pain one more time.  I know I feel really raw about the first episode.  Not my fault I was DID.  Not my fault I was socially inept in addition to my DID.  But the enemy didn’t care.  Whether my choices came from woundedness or conscious rebellion, it was enough for him to activate a curse on my cycle of time, and hurt me three more times downstream.   I hate him.

Fourth, I will ask God to cleanse the structures on time and to remove any unholy structures that have been built in me.

Fifth, I will mark my calendar for when I am 77 and a half years old and will anticipate holy payback in that cycle for what got ripped off before.

Now, there is a teaser here.

When I did the AHS 3 Practicum in Anaheim, there was a spirit/soul connection between me and the group gathered there that we have never had before.  It was remarkable and healthy and addictive.  We achieved that again with the first of the live streaming videos from the office.  The time with Holy Communion especially was intense that first day.

I have done a whole lot of work already on each of those four situations, without knowing they are connected.  Obviously I am in a season now where I should be able to have an exchange of life with community that is significantly above par.  Even though I have not done the cleanup work listed above, I think God was honoring the season and giving me a taste of what community could be like in SLG.

The pre-event party in Denver was also highly uncharacteristic of SLG.  The ease with which everyone connected was remarkable and delightful.

Our highly cranky, stonewalling landlord has appointed a new manager for our complex who is a delightful gift of Service lady and she is doing community with me like we have never had.  I actually had a discussion with Megan the other day asking whether she was real or an angel sent to bless us.

So, I think without the cleanup, God is already allowing some of the life of the season bleed through.  With the cleanup done, we could have a dramatic new flavor to SLG.  In celebration (by faith) I have embarked on a daring venture with the Exhorter gift on Facebook.  I would love to draw 100 people who could commit to this short-term strike force.

And I am REALLY looking forward to Saturday night when we have our third live stream and I share lots of new, fun stuff.  I hope God grants us a deep connection where the life of God flows to us and through us to each other.

Then I leave to Austria on Sunday, where I will be ministering to a female Exhorter city, Innsbruck, and a male Exhorter city, Vienna.  The later is already sold out, two weeks in advance of the event!

So here is to high expectations of change in the company.

And this is the end of my processing in public about this event.  Onward to new things.

Copyright September 2016 by Arthur Burk

From home


Processing Disappointment #9

As I pondered the whole Exhorter dynamic during my long drive to and from the family reunion, what bubbled up was the issue of legitimacy.

While trafficking in legitimacy is a game the whole human race does relentlessly, the Exhorter tribe tends to do so a bit more often, with more damaging results.

I ponder the legitimacy structures in the Christian high school I attended.  I have no basis for comparison to other high schools, but it seems to me that they were not toxic.  The boys’ legitimacy on Monday morning was loosely correlated to how cute the girl was that they dated over the weekend.  (I wasn’t allowed to date).  Cars conferred a lot of legitimacy with Mustangs being top of the line and anything with a glass pack in the exhaust system being a cut above.  (I rode the bus to school).  Quarterbacks were more legitimate than defensive linemen.  (I didn’t play sports).  An A in trig was more legitimate than an A in English lit.  (I couldn’t even muster an A in detention).  And singers in the A Cappella choir were more legitimate than even the principal.  (I was asked to stop singing in the shower).

All told, pretty ordinary stuff.  There were cliques and clubs, the ins and the outs, the beautiful people and the riff raff, the rich and the not so rich (no po’ folk in the private tuition Christian school).  But nothing that I would deem as toxic in retrospect.

I circled around that for hours.  I clearly had zero chances of being legitimate with any of the currencies in use. What did it feel like to be utterly doomed to be non-legitimate for the entire year?  It was a bit tough to pull up memories of feelings from 46 years ago, but I gave it a good whirl.

What emerged were the seven kids who offered me the gift of friendship.

Chris, Howie, Sylvia, Pat, Roxanna, Debi, and Arthur.

Four guys, three gals.

Three big shots on campus.  Two nobodies.  Two middle of the pack, ordinary people.

One of the top athletes and a top singer.  A legendary procrastinator on homework.  A political activist.  Two laid back, disengaged, non-aligned kids.  The son of a doctor in Newport Beach.  The son of a missionary to Native Americans.  The daughter of divorce.  The daughter of a family with deep heritage.

I don’t remember a single one of them offering me legitimacy through association.  In retrospect, all of the invitations appear to be simple, sincere and long standing.  They offered friendship.  That is all.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  No dues to pay.  No privileges to gain.  They just liked me and offered friendship.

And what is stunningly clear in retrospect is that I did not accept their friendship.  Each one had a different flavor of relationship to offer, and in each case, I accepted ten to fifteen percent of what was offered.

The disconnect was stupendous.

I had no place to put what was offered.  It was as if you walked up to me with two watermelons and you were all excited.  You explained to me that these were organic and made THE BEST windshield wipers.  You gave me one.

So what do I do now?

I don’t own a car.  I have never heard of using a watermelon as a windshield wiper.  Do I accept it excitedly and stash it in my locker?  Do I stick it in the trash and hope you don’t notice?  What if you ask me the next day?  Do I take it home and offer it to Dad?  What if he doesn’t know how to use a watermelon as a windshield wiper?  What if he laughs at me in front of the whole family?  What if this is one big practical joke and a lot of other kids are watching you prank me?  What if this is a really valuable treasure and Dad would be furious at me for passing up an ORGANIC watermelon windshield wiper?

The pictures floating by on the screen are sickening.  Sundry sincere offers.  And I dance, and dodge, and duck, and run, and hide.

I couldn’t do friendship in my senior year in high school.

What’s up with that?

I looked at the years before that in Brazil.  We lived in a small town from my age 10 to 15.  I had a lot of friends.  While there was the inevitable White privilege, I was most certainly lacking in all of the things that constituted legitimacy in the local kids’ culture.  I could not hunt, trap, fish, paddle a canoe, throw a stone, use a sling shot, wield a machete, identify a snake, find a blue tarantula’s nest, make a kite, shoot marbles or run as fast as the other kids.

But, I had a lot of friends.

In retrospect, it seemed pretty normal.  We played, we fought, we made up, we changed friends, we competed, we broke bones and promises, and generally acted like kids.  I don’t remember anything particularly noble about my friendships and several things not so noble, but I was clearly liked by some kids in the neighborhood, and I welcomed their friendship and reciprocated, even though I would never be their equal in anything that involved skill or social status.

So what happened between Brazil and California?

I listed possible culprits.

-Social ineptness.

No doubt.

When I was a senior in high school, Roman Gabriel was the star quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams football team.  Monday morning chatter from the guys included awe-struck references to his strong arm.  I wondered how someone with only a quarter of a back could have a strong arm.  I had heard a lot about shepherds in the Bible, but didn’t really understand why you would have a flock of only rams, no ewes.  And I was baffled by Gabriel being a Roman.  Was this some pagan idol the Roman’s created worshipping the Jews’ archangel?  Didn’t make sense.

Welcome to the world of missionary kids home on furlough.

So yes.  Social ineptness.

Lacking a lot of currencies.


He distrusted America at every level and couldn’t wait to get his kids back to Brazil where they would be less likely to be corrupted by the depraved, Beatles-ridden California culture.  I was not allowed to participate in any after school activities, or visit the homes of any friend from school.

So did I absorb some of his extreme caution and fear of contamination?  Quite possibly.


Back in 1970 I had no idea about them.  Were there one or more Brazilian AHS who were hugely anti-social in California?

Theoretically possible.


Hmm . . .  The season of molestation that produced the DID was well before this school year.  Of course we had no idea that DID existed, much less that I was divided, but as I look back, I can certainly see a fair amount of switching going on in different sectors of the school day – like having to undress and shower, fully exposed, with a group of guys after PE.

The more I circled around that one, the more probable it seemed.  There were dozens of reasons why one or more parts would have been broadly distrustful of any offer of friendship.

Hmm . . . back in the day, the perp drew me with offers of friendship, which then morphed . . .

A bit of projection going on?  Ya think?!!!!

Quite depressing.  I am going to park this here for a day and do some less public processing.

Copyright September 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub