One more post on Betrayal and Anger and then we'll move on to Rebuilding Trust.
Betrayal and Anger bring a lot of energy. This energy is erratic and alternates with numb, stunned, soul trauma. This soul trauma is much like an unanticipated punch to the gut. The movie the King's Speech has much for us to learn in dealing with anger and soul trauma.
The King's Speech is about Bertie (Colin Firth), the Duke of York who later becomes King Edward VI. Bertie has a significant problem with stammering. The movie opens with Bertie addressing a large crowd at Wembley Stadium which is also being broadcast on the new technology of the radio. It's a painful scene to observe as the crowd watches and hears him stutter and stammer, getting a syllable or maybe a word out every few seconds. I felt a similar cringe inside me like when there is a television replay of a painful injury shown over and over and over again.
Bertie's wife, the Duchess of York, the future Queen Elizabeth is played wonderfully by Helen Bonham Carter. After a series of horrible experiences with highly pedigreed speech therapists she eventually is referred to Lionel Logue (Geoffry Rush). Under the pseudonym Mrs. Johnson she interviews Lionel in his nondescript office in the basement at 146 Harley Street. Bertie attends the next time but dismisses Lionel after several minutes and a few exercises.
One evening Bertie gives a little insight (foreshadowing) into what is true about his story. He and Elizabeth have an event to attend, but before they head out he tells a story to his girls. He tells about a young prince whose mother turned him into a penguin and sent him to be with the other penguins who have wings, but can't fly. The penguin makes a miraculous swim eventually moving up the Thames and into Buckingham Palace where he is turned into an albatross with giant wings who is able to scoop up both his daughters at the same time, giving and receiving an abundance of love.
Another insight into Bertie's life comes in a conversation with his father, the King. The King is sick and knows he is heading towards death. He is talking to Bertie about who will succeed him. The King mentions something about the family. Bertie responds, "We're not a family, we're a firm."
The King then says to Bertie, "Who will stand between us, the jackboots and the proletarian abyss? You?" A knife thrust straight to the heart of a son who desires his father's belief in his courage.
Eventually, Bertie returns to talk with Lionel. Lionel doesn't want to just teach technique. He wants to know more about Bertie's life and inner world. But Bertie doesn't want to talk about his family. Not talking outside about the family is a hallmark of a dysfunctional family.
Lionel and Bertie do begin to work together. Lionel moves into technique first to help gain Bertie's trust. Among activities Bertie is to do is to rock back and forth, from left foot to right foot, while swinging his arms and saying nursery rhymes. The rocking is reminiscent of modern day EMDR therapy.
EMDR helps victims of traumatic memories find freedom. The belief is that the trauma gets lodged in the nervous system between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The individual trauma and the individual is 'stuck'. With EMDR there is a physical element of the therapy while talking about the trauma. The physical element can include watching a line of lights light up back and forth down the line, listening through earphones to a series of beeps that slide from left ear to right, holding small vibrating paddles that alternate from right to left or it can be as simple as tapping on the right side of the body and then the left. I've had friends go through this who've told me that it did indeed take away the 'freak out' element of the trauma though the memory still is a painful one.
So the rocking back and forth, or dancing the waltz brought movement and continuous flow to Bertie as he dealt with his stammering. The waltz is interesting in this manner because it is a three step dance. With it one alternates the initial foot. Left right left then right left right. Left and then right. Logue's background was with battle worn PTSD victims just like those whom EMDR has been highly successful with, like Vietnam veterans.
A turning point comes when King George V dies. Bertie ends up at Lionel's office. He tells Lionel about his dad's last words, "Bertie has more guts than the rest of his brothers put together." He adds, "But he couldn't say that to my face." A son longing for his father's affirmation.
In this scene Bertie also begins to play as he becomes more vulnerable with his heart and story. He begins putting glue on a model, an activity he was never allowed to pursue as a child. Play is an important part of healing. Getting in touch with a sense of innocence is important in the healing process.
He also doesn't stammer when he sings. This reminded me of country singer Mel Tillis who was the same way.
Bertie goes on telling more of his story. His brothers would tease him, 'Bbbbbbbbertie'. They mocked him and were encouraged in this shaming by their father.
His father said, "I was afraid of my father and my children damn well are gonna be afraid of me." Bertie learned to live a life of fear.
He also was taught he was defective in many ways. He was naturally left handed. He was punished as a boy if he used his left hand. He used his right. What he caught here was that he was defective. Lionel pointed out that many stammerers are natural left handers who weren't allowed to be themselves. He also had knock knees so he was made to wear painful metal splints. More defectiveness.
His first nanny was cruel. She loved older brother David more. She would pinch Bertie slyly just before passing him to his mother. He would begin crying and mom would pass him back. Then she wouldn't feed him which developed life long stomach problems in Bertie. His parents didn't notice her trick for three years.
The shame and loneliness of growing up in the family 'firm' were evident in a brief exchange where Lionel responds to a compliment from Bertie by saying, "What are friends for." Bertie says, "I wouldn't know."
Bertie returns another time after David has taunted him once again with "Bbbbbbbertie". Bertie was rendered speechless. During the session he begins to cuss. Lionel says, "Vulgar but fluent. You don't stammer when you swear."
He meekly says another cuss word to which Lionel retorts, "Is that the best you can do?"
"Bloody bugger to you beastly bastard. Sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t." Lionel then asks, "Do you know the f word?" Bertie responds with a long string of f words and buggitys and other words as he moves around the room.
There is a freedom Bertie finds here. I think it is brilliant and could be helpful in expressing the anger that comes from the trauma of an affair or previous trauma. Rock to the left and to the right or waltz and let out a string sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t or whatever else comes to you. Do this alone or with a trusted friend but not with the person you are angry with.
Some may say that this is bad because it violates Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful in building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. In normal situations I don't enjoy hearing guys (or gals) walking around using the f word every other word.
This wasn't a normal situation. Evil was sweeping the continent due to Hitler. A man who was going to be the voice of the free world in Europe was handcuffed by shame, and fear manifested in the form of stuttering effectively silencing his courage. As Hitler stalked Europe I believe the evil one stalks marriages today. What are a few cuss words in private versus the significant cost and devastation to a family due to an unnecessary divorce. It may be a bit dramatic but the pain I see in those going through unwanted divorces following affairs is dramatic as well. I think another way of seeing Bertie's cuss words is that they represented the spitting out of venom from the attempts of the evil one to take him out instead of delivering brave and energizing speeches during the second world war.
"Sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t." (No, no, no evil nanny I will not be held down in fear.) "Buggity, buggity, buggity." (God's grace is bigger than any shame my brothers and father heaped on me with their relentless pokes and prods.) "F, f,f,f,f,f,f,f,f,f." (Evil one you will not silence me as I speak for Britain as the German church bows down to der Fuhrer.) "F der Fuhrer! I have a voice!"
Are you feeling stuck? Find a private place, move about, maybe waltz a little and spit out some venom from your wounds.