by Hayne Steen, MAMFT
One of our family's favorite TV shows growing up was Golden Girls. I loved Betty White's humor and the Estelle Getty's sarcasm.
I can still here the theme song now...
"Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant."
Just as popular in our home was the TV show "Cheers." 100% of the show was filmed in a bar. The theme song captures longing to have place in this world where you belong, trouble and all. Even from a very young age to when we are old, we are all hunting for some companionship.
"Making your way in the world today
takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries,
sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Marc Cohn's 1991 hit "True Companion" is one of the all time most popular wedding songs. It goes even further to touch on the very heart of what it means to be human...which is to companion with others.
"Baby I've been searching like everybody else
Can't say nothing different about myself
Sometimes I'm an angel
And sometimes I'm cruel
And when it comes to love
I'm just another fool"
In an interview with Q Magazine, Marc Cohn said,
"Here's a tune that I wrote in the back seat of a cab going to meet my girlfriend. I'd been living with her for about seven years and all she asked me the last three was, 'How come we're not [married] yet?'" (female audience members murmur knowingly) "I didn't really have the answer and I wrote this before I knew that I was ready to be a married man. Songs kind of tell you where you're at sometimes. I sang this tune to her in the restaurant and I was excited because I thought it was a great lyric and she was excited because she thought it was a proposal." (laughter) "Men are scum!" (more laughter) "OK, I'm scum. But it worked out in the end. We did get married and we have a baby boy now, six months old." (lots of applause)
The song was introduced while Marc was touring in 1991. Marc and his wife divorced less than 10 years later. Cohn later told Q magazine in 1992 that more than any of his other songs, this one borders on "queasy sentimentality."
I would like to challenge Marc Cohn to reconsider his perspective on "true companionship" being something some far more necessary than what he later describes as "queasy sentimentality."
We have a deeply embedded desire for companionship that endures the ages and our own lifetimes. I do know that Marc went on to remarry sometime later in his life. That longing for companionship surfaced again in his own life. Whether single, married or somewhere in between, we all have a deep desire for a "true companion" or a "soul friend"...to be known through and through.
"True companionship" is not limited to what we might find in a spouse. My wife Ruth Ann certainly models the practice of "companioning" far more beautifully than I ever have. She embodies the real heart of what it actually looks like to practice inviting a few close women to know her in those places where many of us would cringe to be known. She admittedly does not prefer to be known that way but also believes that her life depends on it. She also has consistently offered this kind of space for others for as long as I have known her. Ruth Ann continues to teach me what it looks like to be a "true companion."
"Being known" goes much further than "airing our dirty laundry." It is allowing someone to join us a spiritual companion which always eventually includes being exposed where I am weak and where I am wounded.
The Psalmist exposes the origin of our desire for soul friendship when he writes, "Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration - what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something."
To be known. That is the heart of what it means to experience "Soul Friendship." And yet we settle for cheapened versions of it.
A friend of mine recently shared with me that only 3 zip codes did not register in the most recent Ashley Madison scandal. Not familiar with Ashley Madison? Maybe their one branding liner will give you some insight; "Life is short. Have an affair." An internet hacker released the names and emails of every registered user.
Our desire for companionship is so strong that nearly every zip code in the United States had at least one registered user on Ashley Madison's website designed to help you find a cheap imitation of companionship. Did you know that there are 43,000 zip codes in the United States? Did I mention that only 3 zip codes without a registered also did not have any access to the internet.
We do not need a cheap microwaved version of companionship. In fact, what we really need is a "true companion" otherwise known as Anam Cara...the Celtic spiritual belief of souls connecting and bonding. It's more than a lunch buddy. Different than a running partner. Safer and also scarier than anything most have ever experienced because the risk is so much bigger. When you risk in "soul friendship" there is always an emotional, relational, physical and spiritual payoff.
The unhealthy kinds of risks we are willing to take often don't produce what we are actually needing and desiring. G. K. Chesterton wrote that, "Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God," I would interpret that to mean that when a person looks for a companion in places like brothels, strip clubs, illicit novels, snapchat, Facebook, sexting or porn sites that person (without really even knowing it) is ultimately looking for the true lover of their soul...and that person will always come up empty in those places. Possibly even more empty that when they entered those places.
For some people, counseling will become just one of the ways they can begin to satisfy this healthy need for deep and true companionship. Another form is found in spiritual direction. Both offer people safe space to rest in true self and allow for the false self to come out of hiding and be known and formed...and ultimately the opportunity to cry out like the Psalmist in adoration of the One who loves us through and through - every fiber, every bone, soul and all!
*For more information on "Soul Friendship" check out the reading list on the right hand column of this newsletter or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something."
Psalm 139:14 MSG
A GROUP FOR GUYS
Every guy needs a TRIBE. That's why I will am offering a unique process group for guys called TRIBE.
Tribe (Adult Men)
Theme: Anger, Fear & Pain
Dates: May 12-July 28,, 2015
Times: Thursdays @ 5:30-7:30pm
TRIBE is an open therapy group environment at Elbow Tree. This means that you can join the group at any time once you have met with Hayne face to face to ensure goodness of fit for both you and the group.
TRIBE is extremely affordable at just $35 per session. *Individual therapy with Hayne is also available at normal practice rates.
Holding Onto Hope
The Power of a Tribe
Speaking at Q Commons
Hearing & Listening
Shame is Soul Crushing
Be Still & Know
Are you looking for some reading suggestions that will help assist in your own work away from our time together?