Make Shift Happen

A blog post by Brooke Summers-Perry

Sometimes, with a jolt of clarity, Dr Kerley’s presentations intersect with what I am reading or studying. I wake up in the middle of the night with an ‘aha’ that has me grasping for my glasses, paper, and a pen. 

I attended one of Cindy Wigglesworth’s workshops in the spring. Much of her content was based on a concept presented in the book, The Power of TED (The Empowerment Dynamic), by David Emerald. On the night I finished reading the book last week, I woke with the latest ‘aha.’  I could write several blogposts on how and why the workshop and the book recommendation are meaningful to my healing journey and my desire to break some family cycles. I will focus on what I think is most relevant to this ‘aha.’

The book focuses on two triads. One supports a victim orientation, the ‘dreaded drama triangle,’ while the other supports a co-creator orientation, the empowerment dynamic. In the former, the players are victim, persecutor, and rescuer. Each role has its appeal and its limitations. Victims tend to see people as either persecutor or rescuer, forcing a dualistic perception with little in between. “You are either for me or against me.” The power is held by the persecutor and rescuer, leaving the victim powerless. In the latter triad, the players are co-creator, challenger, and coach. The power is shared and mutual. Thanks to this book and its clear descriptions and instructions, I have been able to recognize how my perception has influenced so many relationships, situations, and cycles.

Here is where this information intersected with Ordinary Life class. One night I woke up with these questions, “What if fundamentalism presents teachings in the Bible as the persecutor, and Jesus as the rescuer, leaving the victim powerless and in need of the church as the link to the rescuer? What if the nature of this reinforces dualism? What if healthy Christianity presents the Bible, Jesus, and his teachings as challengers and offers spiritual teachers and directors as coaches, empowering triumphant co-creators who actively restore union through love?”

My formative years in church were deeply damaging to my ego formation. When I periodically visited my grandparents, I was too shy to go to children’s church. I sat in big people church and listened as if the preacher was talking just to me. I don’t know which came first: my victim orientation or the preacher’s messages that made me feel like a powerless victim. Mid-life, when I was at my lowest point and after a vivid spiritual experience, I turned to Buddhist practices because it was all that felt safe to me. Through the lens of the two triads, it makes complete sense. Something deep inside me knew that I needed to turn to something that would do no harm, something empowering. I was far too vulnerable, broken wide open, and yet more powerfully passionate about living than I ever had been. When the meditation practices were not enough for my longings and curiosities, that same something inside lead me to Bill’s class. I have resisted calling myself a Christian because there is still so much to transform and heal. But in light of my orientation and the desire to shift, I know that I am called to heal the fear based messages and release the damage from my youth so that I can hear the teachings as healthy and empowering. Until I do the work of healing this, the shadow of the victim will have its hold on me. I have done enough work to know how it forms my thoughts, with or without my awareness. It seems much of my ‘work’ has been on healing the thoughts after they’re made instead of healing the source of the thought. 

The morning after I woke with the ‘aha,’  I put the last question at the front of my awareness and sat in silence for 15 minutes.

“What if healthy Christianity presents the Bible, Jesus, and his teachings as challengers and offers spiritual teachers and directors as coaches, empowering triumphant co-creators who actively restore union through love?”

This is what came to me.

What if I evolve from martyr to resilient victim to co-creator? I will no longer be able to hide behind powerlessness. I can and will embrace the ability to play in and with love. What if the fundamental understanding of myself has, by hard work and hard knocks in a messy dance, jolted me out of a stance of being a pawn in the creator’s divine tragedy to realizing that love doesn’t play around with us until she has us in checkmate. What if she has us positioned as playmates? Maybe, just maybe, the only thing missing is my ability to see myself as such?

After reading the Power of TED and understanding my victim orientation in my formative years in church, the last ten years of my life look like resilience training for my victim orientation. That training can also help me hop off the game board. With great hope and inspiration, the future looks like a colorful and wild meadow of possibilities.

Meadow, 12"x12" acrylic on plywood

Meadow, 12"x12" acrylic on plywood