Inside Jokes

My brother calls me Michelle (he pronounces it Mee-chelle).  We once knew someone named Mike Limbskull (not a real person).  He says the word 'snuffles' and I know who he's talking about (someone from a long time ago).  We camped in Wyoming last year, he's the best uncle in the world to my kids and he knows how to ask me those personal questions to plunge a bit deeper into my heart.  He's my best friend and I don't know what I'd do without him.

I want you to take a moment to really reflect on this question: do you have a best friend?  I'm not intending to shame or judge if you don't, but it's an important question.  There's a longing in all of our hearts to be known (Thompson, 2010).  I'm sure you've heard that statement before but do you actually sit with that ache?  Is that desire answered in your heart in practical ways?  It's rooted in scripture, psychology and neurobiology: it is not good for man to be alone.  Who sees you for the strong, beautiful person you are?  

A sex addict walks into my office.  He has tried podcasts, confession (through the screen), and lots of hard thinking to break his addiction.  Or let's reverse the scenario.  A wife comes into my office, betrayed by her husband through an affair.  She has vowed not to tell her friends due to scandalizing them and then she reads as many books as she can to 'figure it out.'  Sounds lonely.  In that first session I propose that community, group and connection are what will heal.  Sometimes they don't come back for another session.  Thompson (2010) says, "The prescription is putting yourself out there to a friend, the side effect is the possibility that person won't care."  I'm not using this quote to validate my feelings when someone leaves therapy, but the fear and possible shame of a client (or me) reaching out to be known.  "We're looking for someone looking for us," Curt says.  

Randy Randy Max Anderson.  My brother gets it.  And when he gets it, laughs and connects with me through his witty banter, our brains literally rewire.  The relational part of the brain fires, the right hemisphere lights up and sends a response to the body.  The body responds and my brother sees this which effects a response in his brain.  A brain needs another brain to function.  It's a social organ.  This connection seems timeless, like sitting at a baseball game at Wrigley Field, not knowing how long the game will last and not really caring.  It's this deep connection we long for and it's available to you.  Write yourself a prescription for a best friend, but know the possible side effect.  And if the side effect comes true, try again.

When I was in the seminary at Mundelein, a young man took his life, in his dorm room.  My spiritual director lived on that floor and found him the next morning.  Father said Mass the next day and gave a homily I will never forget.  He was angry and it went something like this, "We're all looking for a best friend!  We all want someone to know us and enter into our life in a profound way.  Reach out!  Ask how your brother is doing.  Don't be afraid to be vulnerable!"  This priest was a Jesuit and knew what it took to enter into relationship.  It's a great risk and includes suffering.

Sparky the gerbil.  He'd run around the house in his little enclosed, space ball.  Only my brother remembers this.  So I write this blog not so much as an inspiring spiritual, psychological proposal.  But with the simple intention of setting out on a journey to find and receive friendship.  


Michael Ciaccio MS, LPC, SATP  


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