Part 138 3/11/2020 Claire’s Story: Can Craig admit his mistake?

By P. Berman  

What is wrong with me? I know better than this. I have to fix this. 

Craig was sitting outside his apartment. He was cutting himself down. He had realized, few minutes after Claire got off the bus, that he had changed the name of his dog. What was wrong with him? How could he have made such a stupid mistake? He sat very still and captured a memory of his dad sitting at his desk at home. Whether at home or at the bank, his dad was always busy at work. The only difference being that at home, he would take off his tie.


Craig’s dad had been tough on him. Criticizing his every mistake, quick to punish any sign of laziness. But he always told Craig the reason for his toughness, successful men owned the world. Unsuccessful men were at the beck and call of everyone, even women. Craig had done everything he could to please his dad. There were times, while not exactly smiling, Craig could tell his dad was proud of him.  

have to figure this out alone. No one can know what I’ve done. 

His dad would lose all respect for Craig, if he learned about this stupid error. His father never messed up the chase like this. No, if there was anything his dad was better at then banking, it was building new relationships with women 

I want to be with Claire. We have a date. What do I do about the dog? 

Craig had shown Claire a picture of his dog Butch last week. Today, she had asked about the dog and he had shown her another picture. That was when his brain when soft and he called the dog Max. What a fool he was. He had owned Butch for almost a year now. His dog Max had been killed last year after being hit by a truck.  

What if I just tell her? Is it that big a deal?  

Admit a mistake? What could he be thinking!  He could almost hear his father roar at the thought. No real man made a mistake, and if he did, he covered it up- no one ever knew about it. Claire would lose all respect for him if she found out– what a laughingstock a man who couldn’t remember the name of his own dog 

Okay, I won’t admit to a mistake. Can I risk assuming she didn’t notice the name flip flop? 

The plan was to take Butch walking in the park.  He would have to call the dog Butch; the dog was too smart to come if he was called Max.  

Is it bad to make mistakes?  

Is it only bad if you get caught? 

Is it only bad if you’re a man? 

Psychologist Jason Moser has studied mistakes and finds they make our brains grow. From this work, in helps our brains get smarter when we make mistakes. Do you think Craig would ever believe that? 

To read more go to: 


Part 137 3/9/2020 Claire’s Story: Craig is on the bus.

By P. Berman

There he is. Where has he been?  

Claire had a good day at work. One child after another sat in her chair, laughed at her jokes and hugged her on the way out. She felt so good that she was looking up at the clouds as the bus pulled in. She walked up the steps and smiled at the driver as she put her money in. What a perfect day. Then, she saw him. Craig was sitting in her usual row and smiling up at her as she walked his way. Her heart skipped a beat as she smiled back. She knew she should be cautious but, his smile just made her perfect day feel even more wonderful. “Hello,” she said shyly, as she sat down next to him.   

She is so beautiful. I can’t scare her again.  

Skipping the bus had been the right choice- her look of fear was gone and that open look in her eyes was back. There was something about Claire that drew him in. She looked so fragile somehow, so perfect. He had wondered what she would do if he picked her row to sit in. How perfect it was that she had sat down next to him – things were going as planned.    

“I have missed you Claire. Have you missed me?” Claire nodded without meaning too. His smile got bigger. It was time to take another chance. “Would you like to go out with me this weekend?” he asked softly. Claire looked away as she blushed, looking back she said, “I would like that.”   

Wow. That was easy. Now what?  

Craig had thought she would be more standoffish. He didn’t have any plan for a date in mind. He could handle it. “How about we do something on Saturday?” Claire nodded. “What would you like to do Claire?” Her heart skipped a beat. What was it about the way he was saying her name? It made it sound so beautiful. Claire’s heart skipped a beat. Larry never gave her a choice of what they did. This was a good sign. If he really meant it, he shouldn’t get mad if she suggested something  

I am so glad I talked to Mrs. Carson. I actually know what to say. 

“I would love to meet your dog. Could we walk with him in Kendrick park?” That was the park she always took Davy to. Lots of children went there. It would be easy to see Craig’s reaction to them. 


Craig had this weird expression on his face. He seemed to be startled by her suggestion. But then, he started to laugh.   

What does this mean. I guess it’s a good thing. He didn’t look or sound mad.  

Claire waited a minute before asking him if he disliked her idea. He took her hand, her heart started beating so fast. “I guess I don’t have to worry about you taking advantage of me because I work at a bank,” Craig said with a smile. “I gave you free choice and you picked a free walk in the park.” Claire looked down. She didn’t know what to say.  

I have spooked her again. Where is my brain?  

“Claire, would you like see my newest picture of my dog Max? Claire laughed as she said, “Yes, of course, I can’t wait to meet him.”  Claire looked at the picture of the dog and smiled at him, “I will be meeting you Saturday!” Claire looked out the window and saw her stop. “I have to go.” “We can plan Saturday on the bus tomorrow….if you will be on my bus Claire.” She smiled and said, “I have to run, see you tomorrow.”  

Claire got off the bus and just stood there at the stop. Craig noticed it and nodded in satisfaction. She was thinking about him. The plan was on. He would have to give tomorrow some serious thought.  

Something is bothering me. What is it?  

Claire was feeling uneasy. She couldn’t put her finger on it until she started walking home. Then all of a sudden, she remembered him showing her his dog the first time. He had called him Butch. Now, he was calling him Max.  

Mrs. Carson had told Claire to follow her instincts. Her gut told her something was very wrong.  

Do you agree?   

What explanations might you have for Craig changing the name of his dog?  

Do any of them scare you?  

Are you just feeling mad? 



Part 136 2/21/2020 Claire’s Story: The Vets are helping Larry’s memory return.

By P. Berman

Please let them pass me by again. Don’t let me have to talk.  

Larry had been silent for the last hour. One by one the men in group had talked about their night sweats, their screams, their pacing around their property; something, from everyone but him. 

What could he say? He didn’t remember anything.….   

I can’t tell them about the voice. What if the blood on those hands wasn’t mine? What if the scratching means I’m crazy?  

These were the thoughts occupying Larry as he tried to listen to the other men. But, he couldn’t. Not for long anyway. It was too terrifying.  He was scratching himself till he bled. He couldn’t say that?  Could he?  

Ted had just finished sharing a flashback from combat when killing combatants had also killed a small infant and her mother. Ted was crying. He was trying to talk about his own daughter and how much he loved her; how the mother he killed must have loved this infant just as deeply. The other men were nodding in acknowledgment; they shared Ted’s pain.  

At another time, Larry would have tried to do or say something to comfort Ted: he cared about Ted and had met his daughter. But, now, the men’s stories were triggering Larry’s memories and these memories gripped his attention. The first memory that came back to him was of a small scared child. The memory only contained a face- nothing else.  

Who was it?  Did I scare this child? Am I this child?  

The child’s face Larry was seeing was his own son, Davy. His worries that he had scared the child were reality-based; he had caused this terrified expression on Davy’s face. But Larry didn’t remember any of it. Did that make it less his fault? 

Davy crying

What is the role of your memory in the type of person you are?   

Is Larry a different person now because he lost his memory? Is it because he is living with the monks and having different experiences?  

The monks have been teaching Larry a lot about self-control; things Larry never got help from his parents in learning. His father lost control of his anger and beat Larry till he bled. Larry then beat his siblings, if they weren’t doing their chores. If Larry had learned self-control from his parents, his life might never have started down a violent road.  

The National Plan to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan supports putting a psychologist in every school to help educate students about how to develop positive relationships with others, healthy emotionally regulation, good problem solving skills (Recommendation 9). To learn more about this plan to end violence go to: and then click on the link for the National Plan 



Part 135 2/19/2020 Claire’s Story: The Abbot’s tomato is smashed

I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I cannot let myself sleep! 

Larry kept exercising on the cold floor to keep himself awake. It had been three days since he’d used his prayer beads. He could not let himself fall asleep. He didn’t want another dream- he might find out that he’d been hurting someone. Hurting someone so badly that his hands were covered in blood. The morning finally came. 

After breakfast, he rushed through washing the dishes and ran until he was in the garden. The only place where he could find peace.  Larry was about to discover there was no peace to be found today. He was handling each tomato plant gently- trying to find the daily, perfect tomato he had been leaving outside the Abbot’s door each day. It was the end of the season; he couldn’t find any tomatoes at all that hadn’t been blown to the ground and destroyed in last night’s rainstorm. 

I found one! It’s perfect!! 

Larry knew he was tired, so he was being extra gentle as he pulled the tomato from its stalk. He smiled down at it, grateful that he had one last gift for the Abbot. He put the tomato into his pocket so that he couldn’t drop it as he did the rest of his work.  

The monks were humble and turned any gifts they received into the Abbot to give to the poor. But, Larry’s small gifts of food were accepted for what they were, gestures of brotherhood. Larry was so tired yesterday, that he had left a tool on the ground rather than putting it back in his satchel. Now, as he worked his way down the row, it happened. 


Larry tripped over the trowel and slammed hard into the ground – crushing the tomato. It hurt to land on the hard ground. Yet, Larry was instantly asleep. He was back in the dark room with the one flashbulb. He was hearing a belt whipping down through the air. He felt scorching pain on his back. He heard the sound again but before it hit, he had already started screaming. 

“Wake up brother, it’s me, Ted. Wake up brother.” Larry’s eyes opened and he saw the kind blue eyes of Ted looking down at him in concern. Larry was still feeling too stunned to say anything. However, when Ted reached his hand down, Larry accepted his help to stand up. Larry felt a trickle of blood on his forehead from where it had hit the floor. 

“Thanks, I’m sorry to have disturbed you.” Ted waited for Larry to wipe the blood off his face. When he didn’t, Ted handed him a tissue. Larry looked down at it dazed. “Larry, did you hurt your head?” Larry realized his head was hurting. He took the tissue and wiped the dripping blood. His head didn’t hurt anywhere as bad as his back had during the beating. Could Ted see blood dripping down his back? No, Ted was just staring into his face. 

Of course, Ted can’t see the marks on my back. There aren’t any marks. It was just a dream.  

Larry was trying hard not to stare at his body looking for signs of the beating he felt he’d experienced. He didn’t want Ted to think he was acting crazy. The dream had felt so real, it hurt so bad. He could remember the sensation of warm blood running down his back. It was his blood. This time he was sure it was his blood.  

It was his blood. What a relief! 

Ted was watching the emotions change across Larry’s face, from pain, to confused, to cagy. He was sure now that Larry was experiencing some type of posttraumatic reaction. The look on Larry’s face just looked so familiar to him from the self- help group he was in with other veterans experiencing war trauma. He wanted to bring Larry to the group. He knew he had scared Larry off before. He didn’t want to be too pressured this time. He was searching for the right thing to say. 

“Larry, that look on your face right now is so familiar to me. I see that look on so many guys faces in this self-help group I go to on Wednesday night. Would you go with me tomorrow?” Larry didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to go but he didn’t want to act suspiciously. It would be worse to be thought crazy then to get bored at some group. Ted looked worried. Ted went to the group….. 

I don’t know what to say to Ted. Should I go? 

Ted attends a group run by the Veterans Administration for men who’ve been deployed and developed posttraumatic stress disorder. Larry is not a veteran, but he doesn’t know this. He has experienced a childhood and adolescent full of traumatic experiences. As an adult, he caused traumatic experiences for Claire and Davy.  

But he doesn’t remember any of this.  

Is it a good or bad idea for him to go with Ted? 

Part 134 2/17/2020 Claire’s story: What’s up with this?

By P. Berman 


What hurts? How did I get these? 


Larry woke up feeling exhausted. He remembered the bloody hands of his dream but that was allHis arms hurt. He looked down and saw his arms were white from clutching his prayer beads so tightly; there was no blood on themHe felt a momentary relief until he happened to look down; there was blood on the floor. Something also hurt; he looked at his arms- there were deep scratches running up and down both arms splatter-303569_1280

What have I done?  

He looked at his hands. There was blood underneath each of his fingernails. He had scratched himself. Why had he done this? What kind of crazy person did this to themselves?  

I’ve got to wash up. I can’t let anybody see this.  

Larry was scared but he knew what to do. He walked silently over to the doorway, cracked open the door and looked out. No one was in sight. He rushed to the kitchen and washed his arms carefully in the sink; they stung- he could feel now how deep they were. He rushed back to his room with wet paper towels, cleaned up the blood splatter from the floor and then realized he couldn’t just put the used towels in his trash can. He crept back into the kitchen and shoved his bloody towels deep into the bags of garbage to be thrown out that morning 

I am just lucky somehow? Why is no one around? What….. the…. 

Larry suddenly realized he wasn’t just lucky to still be alone. There was no light coming out of the windows high up in the walls of the kitchen. It was still night. His scratching must have woken him up. Fortunately, they weren’t bleeding anymore, and his robes would cover up the scratches. The monks had already tolerated so much from him. He broke their bowls. He screamed out in the night, waking them up. He didn’t want them to know he was injuring himself: it was such a crazy thing to do. How much could they take before kicking him out?  

I can’t leave this place! It’s my …home. 

Larry walked back to his room in a blind panic. Where would he go if he left? How could he tolerate leaving the garden? The monastery was his home– he wanted to stay. 

Did Larry just scratch himself because of his nightmare? Is he intending to harm himself? Is he going crazy? 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “Self-harm is not a mental illness, but a behavior that indicates a need for better coping skills. Several illnesses are associated with it, including borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety or posttraumatic distress disorder. 

Self-harm occurs most often during the teenage and young adult years, though it can also happen later in life. Those at the most risk are people who have experienced trauma, neglect or abuse. For instance, if a person grew up in an unstable family, it might have become a coping mechanism. If a person binge drinks or uses illicit drugs, they are at greater risk of self-injury, because alcohol and drugs lower self-control. 

The urge to hurt yourself may start with overwhelming anger, frustration or pain. When a person is not sure how to deal with emotions, or learned as a child to hide emotions, self-harm may feel like a release. Sometimes, injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising their mood. Or if a person doesn’t feel many emotions, they might cause themself pain in order to feel something “real” to replace emotional numbness.” 

To read more go to: 


Part 133 2/14/2020 Claire’s story: Whose blood is this?

By Berman, Hecht, & Hosack

They feel so smooth. They are so small. How can they help me?

It’s time to go to sleep. Larry is feeling terrified alone in the dark. He is holding his gift from the Abbott. He is trying to count them and pray, for the strength to do one good thing with each bead. He stuck on bead number 3. He prayed for the strength to stop avoiding Ted: that was his first prayer, Ted had been such a good friend to him he deserves better than what he was getting.

Larry had been slowly leaving the monastery building to head for the garden, but only checking to make sure he passed through the open area without Ted seeing him. It was wrong. He knew it. But what if Ted asked him questions again? It might help him understand his nightmares. But, what if it made them worse.

The second bead was to pray for the sun and water the garden needed to flourish. Larry had noticed how much more cheerfully the monk seemed to go about their daily work sense the quality of their food had gone up. He never mentioned it, because he knew he should be humble, but it did make them feel better that he was paying back from all of their kindness by helping them be fed well.

He couldn’t get the words out for bead number 3; he fell asleep.

person-s-hands-covered-with-blood-673862NOOO! STOP!! HELP!!!

His mouth was frozen again in silence. But his eyes…. his vision was full of these blood hands. Whose hands, were they? What was the blood from? Whose blood was it? He began to hear a male voice …counting. “How many do you deserve? I will make the first one here. I will make the second cut…” Larry woke up terrified. He fell off his bunk. He heard something sharp hit the floor with a clash.

No. “Please don’t be broken. Please.” Larry was whispering to himself as he searched the floor with his hands. In growing desperation, he reached further and further until…he had it; the rosary seemed intact. Whimpering on the floor he began his counting. “The first bead is for the strength to bear God’s judgement. The second is for the courage to know whose blood is on my hands…My hands.”

Suddenly Larry knew, the memory was of his own bloody hands. But, had he been hurt, or had he hurt someone else? Larry whispered, “the 3rd bead is to pray that it is my blood and I have not hurt someone else.”

Larry has hurt so many people in the past. Starting at a young age he had beaten his younger siblings. Now, he is praying that he never hurt anyone else. 

Do you believe that someone as violent as Larry can change? Do you think his memory loss is just masking the violent man he really is?

Researchers and doctors seek answers to these questions. The following quote is from Claude Munday, Ph.D., William Lynch, Ph.D., and John Haller, from the Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Project. “Even a person who makes a “good” recovery may go through some personality changes. Family members must be careful to avoid always comparing the impaired person with the way he/she “used to be.” Personality changes are often an exaggeration of the person’s pre-injury personality, in which personality traits become intensified. Some changes can be quite striking. It may be, for example, that the head injury survivor used to be easygoing, energetic, and thoughtful and now seems easily angered, self-absorbed, and unable to show enthusiasm for anything. Nonetheless, try not to criticize or make fun of the impaired person’s deficits. This is sure to make the person feel frustrated, angry, or embarrassed.”

To read more about the potential impact of brain injury and how to help someone you know go to:




Part 132 2/12/2020 Claire’s Story: The gift?

By Hosack, Hecht, & Berman  


How could he just sit here? Why wasn’t something coming out of his mouth?  

Larry had sat outside the Abbott’s office for an hour in the afternoon before he could get himself to knock on the door. Now he was sitting across from the Abbott- but saying nothing. The Abbott could see the suffering etched on Larry’s face; what important words were frozen in his mind?  The Abbott told Larry not to worry about the words. They would pray silently together until the right words came. The Abbott’s head bent forward, his eyes closed, and almost immediately was deep in prayer.  

Larry couldn’t form even silent words. He was flooded with shame; he was wasting the precious time of this holy man. He watched the Abbott pray thinking of all the monks who depended on him, and on God with simple devotion. Could Larry do the same? At that moment, the Abbott looked up, and Larry was able to let the word “nightmares” leave his mouth before he froze again.   

The Abbott smiled gently and nodded at Larry. He could see how hard Larry was working to keep his deep pain inside himself. Well, he had helped others who couldn’t get the words out. For the next thirty meetings he just looked gently at Larry who’s breathing finally became quiet and slow. The words began to come out. “I am waking up terrified. There is this deep male voice saying something too low for me to hear but the sound of it still fills me with dread. Last week I was just hearing this voice- but this week I’ve begun to see this very dark room with one lightbulb in the ceiling. I don’t know where it is. I don’t know if I should try to find out or if I should try to forget?” 

 Whether you gain more memories or not is in God’s hands. Trust that God will guide you on this journey you’re on. Whatever you must learn, know that we at the Abbey are with you. Just as you need us, your presence here has been a blessing for us. God knew that your place was here. Right at this time, right now, you are just where God needs you to be. I have something for you. It was given to me at a time of spiritual trouble more than 30 years ago. It is time for me to pass this gift on to you and I pray that it helps you as much as it helped me.” 

The Abbott reached into a pocket of his robes. Whatever he was about to give Larry, he kept on his own person. Larry felt overwhelmed that he was about to get something that was so personally meaningful to the Abbott. 


The Abbott gave Larry a rosary. He told him to use it to keep track of his prayers to God. Larry gripped the beads tightly. He wanted to thank the Abbott, but no words came out of his mouth. No words were needed; Larry was already looking calmer – the Abbott smiled. 

Have you ever been given something to borrow or keep for comfort?  

Little children may turn to a favorite toy when they feel anxious. Sport stars may wear their favorite socks to an important game. 

If someone you cared about, was nervous about something, what might you offer to provide comfort?  

Part 131 2/10/2020 Claire’s Story: What’s scary about a light bulb?

By Berman, Hosack & Hecht 

Why am I freaking out? It is just a light bulb… 

Larry had trouble falling asleep. He kept remembering the words in his head, “your too stupid to deserve God’s help.” Could the words be true? The monks were always saying that no one was beyond redemption … no matter what they did; but what if the monks were wrong?  When Larry finally fell asleep, everything looked blank but this bright bulb.  


In his dream there was nothing, but the bulb and silence yet could feel himself trembling. Why did the bulb make him feel so scared? It was just a bulb, it looked like it was coming from the ceiling. The third time Larry woke up in a sweat, the bulb was accompanied by that voice. That terrible, deep male voice saying something…too softly this time for Larry to hear. 

The night seemed endless, but Larry must have fallen asleep because the next thing he knew, a monk had knocked on his door, his wake-up call for breakfast. After breakfast he filed along with the monks to the sanctuary for morning prayers – but no words came out of his mouth. It was his turn to wash dishes so he went back up to the kitchen after prayers. He kept dropping the plates until one broke- this was terrible; the monks couldn’t afford to replace this plate!  

He knew it was fatigue making him so clumsy. He couldn’t keep this up. He had to get help. He couldn’t go back to Ted; he was too embarrassed. Everyone who needed guidance went to the Abbott. But what should he say? 

Do Larry’s bad dreams mean he has PTSD?  Is he really afraid of something? 

To learn about the causes of nightmares watch the following video: 


Part 130 1/10/2020 Claire’s Story: Does Larry have PTSD?

I can ask Ted. He won’t think I am being self-centered. He knows I am trying to be humble.

Larry couldn’t keep this nightmare to himself any longer. He finally got the opportunity to talk to Ted later in the morning; he told him everything he could remember. Just telling Ted about the dream made him break into a sweat. Ted saw the look on Larry’s face and the moisture emanating from his skin. He looked at Larry speculatively; might Larry have PTSD?

Ted had been living with PTSD for years, but he still hated talking about it. This was different though; it was for Larry who clearly needed a friend. Ted forced himself to say, “I break it out into sweats almost every day. It can be a sudden noise or smell. Something triggers memories of my time overseas and I am suddenly back there.”

Larry looked at him attentively but wasn’t nodding or anything.  “Being yelled at and called worthless were frequent when I was in boot camp and you said the voice is male, and deep, and loud.” Larry was almost hypnotically staring at Ted now. Larry hadn’t done much talking when he first came to the monastery and then, the accident happened. Ted knew next to nothing about Larry.

Ted took a deep breath and said, “do you think you might have ever been in the military Larry?” This broke Larry’s hypnotic stare- instead he just looked confused as he said, “I wish I knew what I’d done with my life before the accident. I have no memories at all. This dream, if it is about anything real, is my first memory.”


Do I have PTSD? Was I in the military? None of it seems to fit but…

Larry could have PTSD and have never been in the military. There are many other traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD; a serious car accident is just one of them. There are many very dangerous experiences that don’t lead to intrusive daymares. What is happening to Larry is complex. Ted drove him to the library in Cincinnati where they both looked at the definition of PTSD on-line together.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.” The website had a lot more information about PTSD. To read more go to:

Reading the website, Ted and Larry read about the many different types of trauma that could cause PTSD so Larry’s “feeling” that he hadn’t been in the military could be right. The accident that led to Larry’s memory loss could be considered traumatic. He had severe injuries. However, the fact that the sweating and hypersensitivity occurred after his nightmare involving a man’s deep, loud and abusive voice led Ted to ask Larry if he had any memories at all about being a victim of child abuse.

In addition, they learned that his having disturbing nightmares was not diagnostic of PTSD on its own either. They read the list of symptoms and tried to think through if Larry had them. Ted asked Larry if he had any other intrusive memories? “What do you mean by intrusive?” Larry asked in return. “Have any of the ideas from the nightmare come back to bother you will you tried to do something else?”

Jackpot- Ted thought. Larry had gone white during this question. (1-minute silence) “When I was trying to pray this morning,… (2- minute silence). I kept hearing a voice saying I was too stupid to deserve God’s help (Larry was looking down with sweat pouring down his face). I felt too stupid…” Ted didn’t like the green tinge to Larry’s skin. Maybe, they had talked about this enough for one day.

Ted stood up and Larry followed him out of the library and back to the van.  Ted drove them back to the monastery. Larry was distracted, he kept hearing that harsh male voice calling him a piece of shit. Somehow, he couldn’t get himself to tell Ted. He walked away from Ted up the path to the garden; Ted didn’t follow- he felt Larry shouldn’t be pushed further to work through his thoughts about the nightmare.

Up in the garden, Larry just stared down at “his” tomatoes; slowly, he began to feel more relaxed.

Do you ever find yourself pushing someone to talk to you when they weren’t ready to?

Is there anything else you might do besides “pushing”?

Amy Morin LCSW wrote a piece called, “8 Brilliant Ways to Make an Awkward Conversation More Comfortable.” To read her ideas for what Ted might try tomorrow to help Larry talk to him more go to:

Do you think any of these “8 brilliant ways,” might work?

Part 129 1/8/2020 Claire’s Story: Does Larry have a green thumb?

They seem so different from ferns. I like the feel of the fuzz on their vines. 

Larry has been trying to make the tomatoes grow for the past two weeks. They didn’t have the same deep green as the ferns. Their lives were not as delicate. Still, there was a different type of peace he was gaining from working with them. The monk in charge of the garden had not been able to get the tomatoes to grow. They would look flower but then get sickly looking and the flowers would fall off. 

Larry had looked up this problem in his gardening book. The problem might be caused by several possibilities:  too much nitrogen in the soil, getting too hot, or not getting enough water. The monk came several times a day to check the garden; it couldn’t be not getting enough water.  If anything, the garden was cool; its location at the top of the monastery, which was already on top of a steep hill kept it cool rather than hot. 

Larry had asked the monk about testing the soil for its composition. Unfortunately, there was no money available for something like this and Larry had spent the only money he had on the gardening book. Larry felt the soil, wondering about the nitrogen. Something urged him on to just do an experiment. He went to the monks’ workshop and swept up the wood chips and wood dust from their making their own furniture. He then went to the garden and spread it around only half the tomato plants- just in case it might hurt rather than help them; his book said this might reduce the level of nitrogen in the soil. 


By the end of the first week of this treatment, Larry began to see an improvement. By the end of the second week, the plants that he had treated had exchanged flowers for beautiful tomatoes. He was so excited; he ran through the courtyard to the workshop to get more wood chips and dust for the rest of the tomato plants; he had figured it out!  

Suddenly, his smile was wiped off his face. It wasn’t because he was remembering to be humble. It was because he heard this deep male voice in his head saying, “it was just an accident. You are too stupid to figure anything out.”  

Where was this voice from? It didn’t sound like any of the monks. Whose voice was it?  

Larry had never heard anyone speak harshly like this at the monastery. It was important to be humble within the brethren. However, humble didn’t have anything to do with making mean or hurtful remarks any more than prideful ones. The monk in charge of the garden had smiled at him and given him a pat on the shoulder for figuring things out with the tomatoes. This had felt very good to Larry. But, he realized that he shouldn’t work hard in the garden just to get a pat on the back; he should work hard to help the monks- to help others.  

Larry was learning about their ways, slowly but surely. When the monks had their first tomato salad, and some nodded at him in silence, he just looked down. Larry knew their nods meant his efforts were appreciated; he didn’t need to smile or gloat about it. 

He fell asleep at peace. But it didn’t last through the night. He tossed and turned around midnight, experiencing a very disturbing dream. He was in a dark basement and he was hearing that deep male voice from before. Now it was saying, “you’re a useless piece of shit.  I am tired of seeing your ugly face. I hate the very sight of you.” He saw a belt go up in the air headed towards him and that was it. He was fully awake and covered in sweat. He was absolutely terrified, but he still didn’t recognize the voice or know what the dark basement represented.  

Larry heard a gong. He had to run to the showers to clean off the swept and still be in time for morning prayers. On his knees, Larry tried to pray but the regular prayers refused to come out of his mouth. He then tried to focus just on asking God to explain what was happening to him. Again, the words couldn’t come out. Somehow, instead he kept wondering if he was too useless to deserve God’s help. 

Why is Larry so disturbed by some insults he heard in a dream? 

Should he just try and forget them? 

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