Bill Pettit: I headed up an adolescent unit in a state hospital in North-West Iowa for just under two years, and it was a 30 bed unit with ages eight to 18 – it had 12 female beds and 18 male beds. And you have to burn some bridges you know, in order to get into the state hospital system. But I agree totally with you (Sue) that we’re much more alike than we are separate and what really hit me which I knew already, is the saying, “People do not care what you know, until they know that you care.” If that’s true of everybody, which I think it is, it’s especially true of adolescents. They’ve had so many people innocently telling them what to do and which way they should look and putting all kinds of directives and shoulds, on them, and it hasn’t worked out very well, and so to have somebody who truly cares and also sees the health in them – they’re more than open to that, they really want that.
I think you brought up a great point about the difference between, it’s a huge point, you saw the difference between the way you were with your daughter at the beginning and the way you were with the young people that you worked with. And we so easily have been told, or bought into that being invested in the outcome is part of caring and it’s not. And I think when we get invested – you know you were obviously at some level much more invested in the outcome with your daughter and your wisdom guided you to see that that was getting in the way for the love that you have for her. Am I saying that correctly?
Sue Pankiewicz: Yes, absolutely.
Bill Pettit: Whereas with the other young people that you worked with, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t care deeply for them but you were able to not be invested. I’ve had a number of patients tell me, less so as the years have gone by, I think because I’ve become less invested in the outcomes. And that sounds funny, I’ve had a number of patients years ago say, “The day that you quit being invested in me getting better, allowed me to get better… because your ego was no longer tied up in whether I got better or not. You weren’t going to see yourself as a failure or as a great psychiatrist because I got better or didn’t. You were just present, giving the love and sharing the Principles as deeply as you could, and you trusted that whatever would happen from that would be enough, whether it was today, whether it was six months from now or whether it was a year from now.”
And I literally had a patient one time, who, when I left Florida in 1990 and went to the state hospital where I was supposed to have a Three Principles program that the funding got cut from in 1990, but about a year or 14 months after I left, (she had been badly injured in an accident, had chronic back pain and severe depression), about 14 months after I left Florida, she woke up one morning and she had a very profound insight about the Principles. And she circled the date on the calendar and waited one full year before she wrote me a letter because she wanted to make sure that it was real (chuckling) – isn’t that something? I mean, it happened 14 months after I left and then she waited a year and she wrote me this wonderful letter which I have, this wonderful four or five page thing and it’s in poetry and she talks about her short trips to hell. Even now, with her thinking, she’ll take a short trip but it is a short trip. When she starts feeling the heat she turns back around! (SM & SP chuckling in background) And goes back home, you know. And I thought that was very powerful, the point being, to the degree that we trust Mind, and we trust the innate health in people and that spark of divinity, then we no longer have to be invested in the outcome. We just give what we have as purely and as lovingly as we can and it takes the burden off. It frees up the joy of sharing. Because there isn’t the burden of expectation.
Sue Pankiewicz: It’s essentially impossible to find that joy if you’re looking for it… you know, when you start looking for it, you’ve already got an idea of what it will be like and then you start thinking, “well what’s getting in the way?” and you start working on that. Well, the minute you step back *boing*! (Bill chuckling) And you know I laugh – I just think back now and have even more thoughts coming about – I just kept thinking I was the one with the knowledge, I was the one with the wisdom, I was the one that could direct this recovery, and you know, I was pretty… I think to myself, “what tolerance she had of this woman, this mother, who would come along and say all this stuff to her!” Literally I couldn’t hear her, but she said to me one day – we were joking and I was apologizing because the last time I had seen her, I had been very critical about something, I can’t remember what it was, and I said, “Oh I’m just so sorry. I never want to say anything critical, I want to come along and just be have a lovely time.” And she said, “Mum, it’s alright, I just put it into a joke, I just say to myself, “mothers make the worst guests because they’re the ones who’ll tell you what they really think.” So she turned it round in her wisdom to say, “It’s not personal, it’s my Mum! She’s doing the best she can.” You know, I’m kind of awed by that because it strips me back, it shuts me up, it knocks me down to being who I really am below all this nonsense about, you know, initially the “failed parent,” the shame of it… you know, maybe it takes a while for us to be able to see all that absolute nonsense that we’ve been carrying around that looked really true and real.