Un-Schooled Spouses and “School” Affairs

Recently an un-schooled spouse found this blog. Searching for reasons why her husband’s mysterious  “tai chi” class required ever-growing time, attention and secrecy,  she contacted me for help. At one point, she confessed to feeling guilty — as though she were “trying to take something he loved away from him.”

This piece of propaganda should sound familiar; for if you ever asked for ongoing “help” with an unschooled spouse one of the pat offers include this: s/he is jealous and trying to take this thing you love away from you. While in “school” I bought into this; back then I would have thought if only this spouse could understand how lucky she is; her husband is “working on himself”, and she will benefit as a recipient of gifts offered by “the invisible world”. He is becoming a man with finer vibrations.

One time when I asked for “help” with my husband a teacher named Carol said something to the effect of, “He has no idea how much love has come his way.” Even then, when awash in “school” programming, it struck me as strange. Now when I remember that comment, I marvel at “school’s” version of “love” — the kind of “love” that dismissed his thoughts, emotions, worries and experiences while still taking his money. Is that love? Silly me, I might call that extortion. We all felt “school’s” “love” and, by default, our spouses got hammered by it, too.

Like the irony presented by “school”-style “love”, the institution presents as though making its “students” into “finer” people, i.e. better husbands and wives (everyone remembers being externally considerate, right?). In reality “school” shapes its minions into school-promoting auto-matrons. As “students” “evolve”, the “school” programming  takes root infecting and spreading. Phrases like, “it’s private”, “just for you”, “makes you happy”, “think of this like therapy”, “no ones’ business” seep in along with the attitude fueling those phrases — i.e. “school” as superior and taking precedence over our inconsequential lives; a rightly-ordered life, “school” preaches, puts “school” and its mysterious AIM before everything else. “Students” soak this in and strive to “rightly order” their lives.

These attitudes of “school” first and everything else as secondary spreads through the home like an emotional virus. I still see the effects in my family —  even after being out roughly 18 months. My husband and I sometimes talk about some of the things I parroted at him while “evolving” “school”-style. When he found OSG and $350 written in my checkbook ledger, and challenged me on it,  apparently I responded by asking him “What were you thinking?” — how could he possibly ask where our money was going. Oh, by the way, I was unemployed at the time.

Interestingly, I have no memory of saying this. But I recognize this turn around as an oft-used “school” strategy — turn the tables and throw the question back at the the questioner; so I don’t doubt that I did, indeed, ask him what he was thinking. I can look back at my “classroom” experience and recall many instances when “teachers” employed this strategy. I now see that the longer “students” are saturated with “school” philosophy, the more likely they are to mechanically spout back the pat answers and deflective strategies.

Of course, unschooled spouses know when their “schooled” husbands and wives are spouting off programmed responses. The woman who contacted me said that a posture, a facial expression, a certain tone in her husband’s voice, or phrases used simply did not ring true to the man. And yet – even though she could feel the “school” machinations behind the presentation – its programming still got under her skin. She felt guilty for asking and wishing that he weren’t attending this mysterious thing.  She felt guilty for seeing the damage caused by it and asking, emphatically, that he look at it more closely. We “students” had a tendency to kill the messenger by responding as though she or he were trespassing.

The message of unschooled spouse as intruder exasperates the guilt; the guilt causes a soul to start questioning his or her perceptions. My husband felt a tremendous amount of guilt. Even he sometimes questioned whether it really was none of his business. Of course, now that I’m no longer a frog in the “school” pot o’ water heating slowly to a boil, I can see how ludicrous this is: an institution that demands secrecy, charges at least $350 a month, increases its demands over time, therefore impacting a family in any number of negative ways, claims to be “none of the family’s business”. In my case, when “school” informed me that my monthly expenditure was none of my husband’s business, well, even in my “school” stupor, on some level, I know it was ridiculous, but he still felt guilty.

The sinister truth is that “school” takes advantage of both the sincere seekers who join and those who love these seekers; those who — in good faith — wish to support him or her. Those people see, feel and hear the damage  without experiencing the magical seduction.  When unschooled spouses express legitimate worry, loneliness, mistrust and anger, “school” waves its evolved hand, shooing them away as though they were annoying flies; it dismisses the spouse, the kids, the family as just life things. It commands, “YOUR AIM IS YOUR GOD”.

Over time “school’s” AIM via “third line of work” — i.e. recruiting newbies and more income for Sharon — becomes a community effort,  and “school” tells its “students” that these efforts are necessary for their evolution. Nothing should get in the way of AIM, i.e. “God”, which translates into “school” as God; after all, our highly evolved efforts of funding Sharon’s retirement should not be overshadowed by our little families.

In an effort to end on a more hopeful note, I want to tell you, dear readers, that “school” alumni  from the Alex Horn/Sharon Gans Theater of All Possibilities have contacted me recently. I’ve been learning quite a bit about the evolved institution’s rotting roots, which will be explored in future posts. One of those kindred spirits sent me a chapter from a book called “Tales for the Unborn Son of My Unborn Child – Berkeley in the Sixties“, written by Thomas Farber. The chapter describes Farber’s Alex Horn encounters and the following two paragraphs describe Farber’s post-cult conclusions, which are relevant and healing for current escapees and our unschooled spouses:

“In this period of transition I heard Alex’s voice over and over again: ‘You will wish you had never heard of this ‘Work’.’ And then I passed out of his reach, I rejoined the rhythms and melodies of the larger flow and hurried to have my share of the vanities, foibles, whims, conceits, caprices, hopes, dreams, illusions and insistent mortality of those who could live no other way.”

“No, nothing was for free. Yes, I would pay. But I would stay with the ground-lings, spared perhaps, perhaps not, from that overriding ambition which made such redoubtable prisoners of those who tried the Work. With a confidence born of ignorance I chose to make my own way. And, for so many reasons, some very good and some quite bad, I faced the old religious question and decided that we all, willy-nilly, have a soul, no matter what we try to do to it, and that there are many paths to the spirit immanent in us. I had begun to feel that it was the process of living that alone redeemed us.

I love this conclusion and couldn’t agree with it more given my process of being seduced into and then bumbling out of “school”. I have come to believe that those of us who have “rejoined the rhythms and melodies of the larger flow” and chosen to make our own ways, will all, given time, pass out of “school’s” reach. If your relationship survived its “school” days, toast that as a testament to its strength and know that your love is likely to survive any number of challenges. Your souls are alive and kicking, no one can take them away, and the process of your lives weaving together into a “school”-free tapestry can redeem the past.