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    Being a Protector
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
    On March 19, I listened with interest to the homily Pope Francis offered on his inauguration. One part of what he said that particularly struck me is this:

    The vocation of being a "protector"… means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person… Be protectors of God's gifts!
    Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened.

    In listening to this, I was immediately aware of how the role of protector has an interesting relationship to compassion. Understanding someone who has hurt you leads to having compassion for that person, and ultimately forgiving them. By forgiving, you can release your anger and gain compassion for those who have harmed you. This might return you to the role of protector, taking care of those people in some way. It might also sometimes make sense to use this understanding as a foundation to repair and even strengthen the relationship that has hurt you. Of course, sometimes it is not wise to turn back to that relationship. It is better to use the understanding as a way to release yourself from anger and move on.

    What are your thoughts about the relationship of being a protector and being compassionate? How have you seen this play out in your life?

    Also, what are some of your thoughts about this part of the pope's homily?

    Dr. Becker-Phelps's discussions and her responses in those discussions are for general educational purposes only. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

    dfromspencer responded:
    Hi, Dr. Becker-Phelps

    This story I told long ago may just be right?

    My step father murdered my mother, when I was just 18. I was so angry at him, I could not forgive him!!! It was much later in my life, that a counselor told me to empathise with my step father, and try to use some compassion for what he may have been going through. After seeing this from another perspective, I did indeed forgive my step father.

    I used to be the protector in my marriage. After she cheated, the compassion went out the window, I couldn't even empathise with her.

    Maybe this is not what you're asking for? I started Wellbutran a few days ago, and its giving me some weird side effects.

    I'm sorry, Doctor, if I got this wrong!!!

    rohvannyn replied to dfromspencer's response:
    It is said that forgiveness is for you, not for the other person, to help you release your anger and move on... that must have been a tough thing to do, Dennis. I don't know that I could. But it sounds like you are stronger for it.

    'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
    dfromspencer replied to rohvannyn's response:
    Hi, Roh

    You are so right, my friend!!! I had to forgive myself first, for not being there to protect her. Silly, of course, but that was how I felt for many years. It literally ate away at who I was. I was an angry young man, to say the least. I went to bars to pick fights, just hoping someone would kill me. I could not commit suicide, still not sure why?

    I was in the Army at the time she was murdered. No way in hell I could have protected her! Only, I could not accept that. I was too young, and then too angry to accept that. Once I forgave myself, it was a lot easier to forgive my stepfather.

    Yes, I think I am stronger for that? It was tough to face my Demons, but it released me from hells grasp.

    Thanks again, my friend!!!

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Dennis, It certainly does sound like hell that you've been through. What a hard road you have walked and continue to walk. I have to say that there is nothing silly about how you felt for years. It's totally understandable- just as not being able to empathize with your wife is understandable. Still, you let go of the anger toward your stepfather with empathy and compassion. As Roh said, this also released you. Hopefully, one day you will be able to empathize with your wife and let go of that anger, too - and, again, release yourself from that anger. This is no easy task. Many of us never accomplish this kind of forgiveness for those who have hurt us, but it is a worthy task to attempt. In the meantime, there are other aspects of life to focus on - other places to find contentment, peace, and happiness, perhaps building those up so that you have more strength to forgive and let go of the negative in your life. I do wish you well.
    dfromspencer replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    Wow, thank you so much, Dr. Becker-Phelps!!!

    I know I should forgive her, (ex-wife) but I am not sure I want to? What she did, is unforgivable, no not unforgivable, more like unforgettable??? I did forgive her, at least I thought I had, but the pain in my heart was a constant reminder, therefore, I could never forget. That is what ultimately ruined my relationship.

    What really hurt me the worst, was my loss of trust in women. It took a very long time to get that back.

    I hope I can do as you say? Find peace, and contentment, and happiness once again, befor i'm gone?

    Still nothing from the V.A., if I could afford it, I would pay for one myself. At least I know I need help, right?

    Thank you, soooo much, for all of your help, and advice!!!!
    Take care!!!

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Dennis, keep in mind that forgiving is not forgetting. And, you can still be sad or hurt when you think about it, even after you've forgiven. It's just that you stop reworking the situation in your mind. Meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, offered a wonderful explanation. He said, "Forgiveness is a vow not to carry bitterness into the future... to decide to give up hope for a better past." Again, this can be incredibly difficult to do. People sometimes find it's best to put efforts at forgiveness aside as they work to improve their lives on other fronts - when they are feelings better and doing better, the forgiveness comes more easily (though it's not necessarily easy.
    Have you looked in to agencies/clinics that having sliding scales? If not, it might be worth looking into. Sometimes people can get help at a minimal cost (perhaps even for free?). (If I've suggested this before and you've answered, please forgive me for repeating myself)
    dfromspencer replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    That's it, that's it!!!! I have been hoping for a better past, when that is simply impossible. Oh, thank you Dr. Becker-Phelps!!!!! That is exactly what I have been searching for all this time, and could never find it. I have been carrying this bitterness around for a long time.

    Wow, this is great!!! I just answered one of your topics on betrayal, and now I know how to do it. I know how to forgive her! It could just as well been anyone else I might have married? Anyone can make a mistake, I know I have, many times!!! I hope for forgiveness, why shouldn't she? Right? OMG!!! I finally got it, and I am soooooooooo happy!!!

    Thank you so much, Dr. Becker-Phelps, you have been the best thing that has happened to me, in a very long time!!! If it hadn't been for you telling me about Jack Kornfields wonderful explanation, who knows how long I could have carried that anger, and bitterness??? Wow, I feel so light all of a sudden? Like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

    You are the best, take care!!!


    P.S. As I was typing my name, my Dr. called. She has finally gotten through to the V.A., she will schedual me an appt. on the 12th. when I go see her. Fantastic!!! Thanks for the suggestions tho!!! Bye for now!
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Dennis, I'm so glad that this helped - and that you are making good use of the help offered; by me, by the doctor (all the best with your appt), with others on this forum, and with others in your life.
    dfromspencer replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    Hi Dr. Becker-Phelps

    I have just returned from a wonderful weekend visit with my brother, and his fianc?. We had a great time, we laughed and teased each other. Then we settled in for a couple of movies. This was a much better way to spend a weekend, rather than sit here all alone. I wish I could afford the gas to visit every weekend, but they live so far from here.

    Oh yes, I am deffinately taking advantage of the help you have given me, and all the other's on these boards, especially the ones I call friends!!! I feel like such a taker, now. LOL!!!

    Leslie, I hope you won't mind me calling you by your first name, I feel as if you are more of a friend than a Doctor on these boards? Every time I call you Dr. Becker-Phelps, it feels as if I am losing something, I hope you can understand that? I really hope you won't mind me calling you a friend? You have given me advice just like a best friend would, and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

    I can't stop laughing at silly little things, I finally feel free. I think about Joe these days, and I smile, or laugh at the memories. I have you to thank for that leslie, and I do!!! You gave me the key to freedom, just be giving me Kornfields saying. Oh, if I could, I would dance around the room, I am that happy!!! I no longer hate my ex-wife. I don't feel enmity towards anyone any more! Thank you, Leslie, thank you my friend!!!

    I hope to get that appointment this Friday. I will let you know.

    Please take care!!!

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Dennis, How about Dr. Leslie? LOL. Seriously, I'm glad that you find my feedback helpful. I'm also honored that you think of me as a friend. And, I hope that I can continue to be a support and a help. While I act from my heart in writing on here, it's also important for me to maintain a delicate balance of my professional role and my personal connections. So, I try to keep my focus on helping others, rather than on me. And, unlike if you were a patient of mine or an in-person friend, my feedback can only be so specific, so personal. From what you write, I can tell that you have been reaching out to others more, and I think that's great. I hope that all of us in this community (including me) can continue to support you as you branch out to develop more friendships.

    Let us know (maybe in a new discussion?) how things go this Friday.
    dfromspencer replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    Thank you, Dr. Leslie!!! Yep, I think you are right! Your professionalism comes first, friends on these boards second, I can totally understand that!!! Dr. Leslie, how awsom is that???

    I can always use, and will always need your advice and support on these boards! I think you are the best, and i'll bet other's do too? We need our expert, and that's you. We hope you don't mind us too much, always asking for help, or advice?

    You got it, Dr. Leslie!!! I will indeed tell you how it went at the doctors visit this Friday. I only hope this appointment isn't like three weeks into the future, you know? That would be so V.A. of them... LOL!!!

    Thank you sooo very much, for all you have given me!!! Freedom from enmity is almost too much for me to take, I cannot remember a time I felt so light? I can't seem to stop laughing at the little things? I sit here and laugh at my rat, when he does his little things, something I have never done befor. I have you to thank for that, and I do!!!

    Take good care!!!


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