Context: I had not anticipated Peter's attraction of me. I did not know how to respond. I had mixed feelings about it. I liked the power it seemed to suggest, as well as the attention/value it afforded. I did not feel safe and having a conversation about Peter's needs, his marriage, homosexuality and open relationship were the last thing I had intended to pay for in a session.
It's important to understand that every child who is traumatized and abused by their parents, develops adaptive protocols to keep them safe. Since my parents lied and this led to intense pain, one of my coping mechanisms to deal with childhood trauma is to "find the edge of the boundary." When parents lie about both their boundaries and motivations, it creates tremendous uncertainty - a trauma in and of itself because it leads to helplessness. If a parent always beats a child when they spill some milk or "talk sassy" then the child has a new pattern they can depend on: Trauma when they spill the milk. The benefit of this is that they can relax as long as milk has not been spilled. They can relax even more when they are away from the breakfast table, because no milk is around to be spilled. They know the source of the danger and can go on high-alert in their body when it is near, and relax when it is gone. This does not lead to PTSD half as much as when the danger is erratic, insane and unpredictable. My parents had the latter damage. The problem was that I could not calm down. And far from apologizing, I was labled a "hyper" child with a learning disability. This is the most dangerous state a child can be in, because they lose all access to their empathic feelings in this state of constant panic-alert. I did several things to try and overcome these obstacles. The most important was to do a dangerous testing pattern to try and figure out what the boundaries were. I knew I could not rely on anything my parents said, because they could not face their own truths. So I systematically tested my parents in all new terrain until I found the line at which they beat me, hated me and in various ways traumatized me. This was terrifying work, but it had a golden light at the end: After enough systematic testing I knew my parents better than they did, better than their words and had a fair idea both how to manipulate them to get my needs met and how to stay clear of the line of violence if I wanted to. Of course sometimes the psychological pain of betrayal and loneliness was so great that I did not always want to. Sometimes I wanted my parents to hit me so that we could get out from under the delusion that they loved to maintain that they were inflicting all their lies and betrayal as "love." You can get a sense of how crazy my father was in this regard when you digest the fact that he just died. And on his grave, after recounting 45 minutes of all the ways he had tormented all of his children and driven three of us to regular brinks of suicide, he "thanked" me politely for my "nice letter" and informed me that he had loved me "unconditionally since the day I was born." Not a single mention of abuse, apology or anything. Because that would have meant that my experience mattered more than his own need never to be wrong.
The point is that upon discovering that I had a therapist that wanted me to be his lover, in an environment I did not understand or feel safe in, I instinctively and cautiously began to feel out where Peter Sandhill's boundaries were and were not. I did this in the most direct ways possible: By asking lots of questions. Thus it was that I learned all about Peter Sandhill's marriage. About Sarah's feelings of reticence for Peter's bisexual explorations. About his HAI agreements that meant we would have to first explore our sexuality in team workshop, where his agreements did not apply. About why he was attracted to me: "Your innocence." About how to get on team. "I"m sure I can see that you get on team. I think you would be great on team."
So it was that after several therapeutic sessions I had Peter Sandhill's boundaries mapped out in my mind. It was all new for me, so I certainly did not know what to do about it. Was this a "good thing" that a popular facilitator wanted me as his lover or a "bad thing?" What were the risks? At least I thought that I had all the terrain mapped out. Peter was to drop several more surprises that terrified me in my lap in coming sessions.
We are at roughly session three when Peter tells me that he is talking to Sarah about our sessions and she has "concerns." I understand that the direction Peter wants to take things is not the direction Sarah wants to take things. Meeting Sarah Sandhill in a workshop I cannot understand why she has fear in her eyes. She is guarded around me. Since I have nothing but good will for Sarah, had done a session with her and at least one workshop in which she did not carry this fear, I had no idea why it was there. Trying to map out the terrain and feel safe as usual, I approached her in a workshop:
"Sarah, when I look at you in this workshop and you see me, I see fear in your eyes. What's that about. Are you aware of that."
"I have no fear of it. I don't know what you are talking about."
"Are you sure?"
I am a good reader of people so I did not believe I could have been mistaken about this new look I had seen on more than five occasions. However, I have learned that for whatever reason people will not always tell me about what I'm seeing. I don't know if they are hiding it from themselves or hiding it from me, or both. I don't know. But I have generally decided that it's possible that they have no idea what I am talking about, because our culture trains people to discount their fears as "nothing," by shaming and attacking people who do express emotions truthfully in many situations.
So I decided to ask Peter:
"Peter, Sarah is scared of me at the workshops. Do you know why? She says that she is not."
"Yes. I know."
"Why is she scared of me?"
"She does not trust you around you and me."
"She has her own childhood issues that our relationship brings up."
"Is there anything I should do?"
What exactly happened is up for speculation in a facilitator body that does not believe any of this is a HAI issue, and in which communication is controlled, edited or ignored in various ways to skirt around anything that looks bad for HAI's public image. However, my best guess is that Peter Sandhill was telling the truth: Sarah Sandhill was not happy about Peter having a conversation with a paying client about a homosexual relationship that opened their marriage, while simultaneously exposing HAI, Peter and herself to a lawsuit about sexual abuse, consequences for Peter violating the spirit and the letter of his facilitator agreements not to escalate a sexual relationship with a participant (it had not even had the needed cooling off period from our workshop and it was clearly not good for anyone but Peter that a heterosexual man was paying to explore a homosexual virginal relationship with an older man he was probably needing as a father figure. It does not take therapeutic or ethical training for these concerns to arise in even the dullest of human beings, and Sarah is not as blind as Peter is to the probable fallout of his misconduct. She is older, has more experience and more healthy fear that Peter, in my assessment.
Questions: Should a paid support professional take money to weaken the support with another support person? Peter's actions and willingness to violate the spirit and substance of good professional, therapeutic and ethical boundaries effectively took Sarah from the role of "supportive ally" and turned her into "frightened and divided enemy." Sarah stated later "I will always choose my husband before you in all matters," which means that by asking Sarah to choose between her therapeutic client and their marriage Peter was asking her to betray her therapeutic ethics "first to do no harm," and to "serve the client and put their well-being first." This is the most sacred ethic in a healing relationship.
Concerns: Peter Has never shown respect for the primacy of the client's safety, well-being, sanity and dignity in his professional work. He has consistently acted in a way that undermined my safety and my trust in him, HAI and the therapeutic industry as a whole by asking people to choose between his needs and mine, and manipulating them to choose his well-being over mine. Any therapist, doctor or healer who cannot put the well-being of their patient before their own lust or short-term needs does not have the temperament necessary for a role of such responsibility, in my own judgment of any licensed therapist who is consulted on the record. This may explain HAI's refusal of all my requests to bring in an outside therapist to guide the facilitator body, as they stumble deeper into criminal negligence and potential bankruptcy of the entire facilitator body for insisting on putting their own ego needs ahead of their participants.