Dr. Spielvogel, God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You

Doc, when I was sick last week, I really missed this. This is my favorite two hours of my week. You’re present. You don’t say stupid things. You think before you speak and then what you have to say helps me. The only thing that could top this would be really hot sex and you’re my therapist and it would be unprofessional of us to have that kind of relationship and I don’t think it would be beneficial for our work, so considering those points, I’m quite happy with what we’ve got, I don’t want anymore, this is just right. I like how you listen.

About 18 years ago, I complained to my mom that she wasn’t listening. She passed this on to her best friend Katie who replied, "Luke is a wounded young god. If he were healthy and at UCLA, he’d have 500 people paying attention to him."

"So how do you feel about that?"

It’s pretty right on. I know it’s not cool to admit, but I really like attention. I know preachers and rabbis, they are most alive when they are speaking to a thousand people. That’s what I grew up on. They seemed half as alive when they were speaking to 500 people and so on. When they were just speaking to you one on one, they were dead fish.

So yeah, I depend on this. On you. Not in a bad way. I was sick last week, you took a three week vacation for Christmas, life went on. I didn’t do anything daft. But I’m mature enough to be able to say to you that I depend on you and this work is important to me and I appreciate your good work.

"Thank you for the compliments."

So last night I was lying in bed. It’s hard for me to go to sleep. So I almost always play something in the background, either Dennis Prager’s radio show or a book on tape or some music. Last night it was the Beach Boys’ Greatest Hits. And song number fourteen was "God Only Knows."

It touched me. I started feeling things. I started feeling gratitude.

I’m not the most moral guy around. I have pretty loose moorings to good morals some of the time and I am tremendously affected by the people I hang around. When I hung out with porners, I had pretty loose sexual morals. When I hang out with the Orthodox, I have pretty loose sexual morals but at least I feel I should be better.

I depend upon good people allowing me in their life to have a tie to strong morals.

So I started feeling grateful to all my rabbis. I wanted to put their pictures on my blog and then write about how grateful I was, even though they all ejected me from their shuls. Strangely, that just makes me respect them even more and feel more grateful for the time I had in their communities. I feel like their ejections mugged me into leading a better life. Now I’ve got things sorted out. I’m out of porn. I’m earning an honorable livelihood with the help of loans and credit cards. I feel like I’m poised to do some great things.

But I didn’t get up and write anything because I know that other nights I listen to other songs and I get all angry at the rabbis who rejected me and I want to write bad things about them.

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

Yeah, I start feeling all righteous and vengeful and I want to lay my vengeance upon them. And I got a blog and I got a brain and I can lay the divine karma down kosher-style.

So I was lying there last night listening to the Beach Boys and thought it’d be a bit daft of me to get up and write about how grateful I am to my rabbis and then a few nights later, I listen to some heavy metal Scorpions and I get up and lay the smack down. Makes people think I’m loony.

Three weeks ago, I was sitting in Torah class and I suddenly got this righteous rage on that rabbis want to be flattered and my problems with rabbis stem from my being a fearless truth-teller and too moral to flatter them and how angry I am that flatterers succeed in the world and get the scholarships and awards, and how much I despise careerists who won’t stand up for what they believe so they don’t hurt their chances at getting on, and I went home and blogged it all out. I was possibly hurt that my rabbi hadn’t returned my email, but he must get tons of emails, it’s not such a big deal, but what if he didn’t want to talk to me? Well, then, he’d be telling me to nick off and that would make me hurt and then shamed and then mad and then I wouldn’t have any obligations to him and the shul, but if he takes the time to talk to me, well then, I take off all the articles he objects to. I’ll meet him halfway. As long as he knows if he kicks me out of the shul that the shul no longer gets my special protection. If it don’t protect me, then why should I protect it?

Can’t get fairer than that?

So I’m meeting him halfway. I took off a dozen articles. I might need his help down the road and he seems like a reasonable bloke and I should be a reasonable bloke and Bob’s your uncle.

So everything started falling together last week. It was only good news aside from being laid up with the flu. But this is what gets me, just when everything is rolling, when I should be kvelling, I have this recurring thought — what would be the single most inappropriate thing I could say right now?

Whenever I’m nervous and am having an important conversation, that loop keeps playing through my head. I never act it out but I’m losing what should be good times thinking about all the horrible things I could say.

"Why do you think that is?"

Well, I’m emotional. I have ups and downs. I’m volatile. But I’m in control. I don’t do anything I can’t control. It’s that so many people think I’m evil.

A good friend of mine called me about two years ago. "Luke," she said. "This has been lying heavy on my heart for a couple of weeks and I have to talk to you about it." And she laid out this conversation she had with someone in the community who told her I was evil and that she should shun me. He said I was volatile and reactive and I was dangerous. Well, I am a bit volatile and I do react, but never out of control. She said all these evil unhinged things this man said about me and they had no basis in reality.

"Do you think you’re evil?"

No! But so many people do. And it gets in my head sometimes and I think what could I possibly do by accident that would precipitate something bad happening just like they predict? I’m powerfully affected by how other people think of me. When someone gives me a good name, I want to live up to it and when someone gives me a bad name, I want to live up to it.

I told my friend that I was 42 and had never been arrested let alone convicted of any crime. That my life had been chronicled and investigated more than 999 out of a thousand and I was a pretty known quantity.

"You felt like you needed to defend yourself?"

Yes. It was crazy. There’s little that is human that is foreign to me. I know I am capable of evil just like most people. I know I have some bad thoughts and bad desires and they need to be disciplined and I discipline them. But I’m in control, Dr. Spielvogel.

On my way here, I listened to "The Kite Runner" on CD. I saw the movie last year. I’ve got a little tear in my eye. It’s heartbreaking about how callously cruel we can be.

In fifth grade, I had this chubby girl who liked me and I kicked her. And one day she said to me, "One day you will love someone and she’ll kick you and you’ll know how it feels."

I left tacks on her seat, pointy end up, for her to sit on.

And I know I am capable of careless cruelty. A lack of precision with my facts or my wording and wham, I’ve wrecked someone.

Then I watched this movie that my yoga teacher was in — Enduring Love. It’s about the havoc one deranged person can have on an otherwise orderly life. It makes me feel vulnerable like driving in traffic you have to depend on everyone else following the rules of the road and employing a bit of courtesy now and again. Our lives are fragile and one wrong fact and I could ruin someone’s life. I don’t want to be carelessly cruel, doc.

What keeps me on track are my friends. I owe them so much. They took chances on me. They heard the bad things said about me and they’ve given me a chance and they’ve invested in me and it is so deeply important to me that I don’t let them down.

Then I grabbed her by the hair and… I can’t make you giggle today.

"I might have to stop you."

Stop me? You mean put on limits? But I haven’t been bad. I don’t deserve limits yet. I wasn’t being gratuitous. I need to work out my feelings about the rough stuff. This is for my therapy. You say you want to stop me. That means I’ve gone too far. You think I’m abusing my privileges as a patient, but I haven’t. This is for my work.

Oy, limits! I hate limits! If you put limits on me, that means I’ve been bad, and now I feel ashamed that I’ve violated boundaries. Oy, I feel shame. I haven’t been bad, have I? Don’t make me feel ashamed. Doc, God only knows what I’d be without you. If you should ever leave me, though life would still go on believe me, the world could show nothing to me, so what good would living do me?

From my live cam chat:

BOBABAILEY:  WHATS THE WORD FOR THE EVENING MORAL LEADER
zzzzzZZZZ:  He is watching tv
BOBABAILEY:  NOW WHAT KIND OF LEADER IS THAT
zzzzzZZZZ:  A lazy one
BOBABAILEY:  WHERES HES AT WHEN U NEED HIM
zzzzzZZZZ:  Why you need him?
BOBABAILEY:  JUST HAVE TROUBLE WITH WHERE WE COME FROM
zzzzzZZZZ:  Where you come from?
BOBABAILEY:  YES
BOBABAILEY:   MAN
BOBABAILEY:   WOMEN
BOBABAILEY:   HUMANS
zzzzzZZZZ:  Where’s that then
BOBABAILEY:  THATS WHAT I NEED TO KNOW
zzzzzZZZZ:  Birds and the bees
zzzzzZZZZ:  It’s messy stuff.
BOBABAILEY:  BUT BESIDE THAT THE BIG PICTURE
BOBABAILEY:   WHERE DID WE COME FROM
zzzzzZZZZ:  God created us.
BOBABAILEY:  BUT THE SCEINCEST SAY DIFFERENT
zzzzzZZZZ:  Ah.. gibberish
zzzzzZZZZ:  know-it-alls
BOBABAILEY:  CHILDREN OF THE STARS THEY SAY
zzzzzZZZZ:  Children of God I say..
User BOBABAILEY left the room.
zzzzzZZZZ:  I have that affect on people.
zzzzzZZZZ:  I’m going now… I’m going to bang down that Hovel door and jump on you.
zzzzzZZZZ:  On my way….

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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