“Making Peace with Questions that May Never Be Answered” – My Interview with Liz Scott

Check out this post by Marlena Fiol author Nothing Bad Between Us

I am pleased to bring you the thinking of today’s guest, Elizabeth Scott. Liz is a psychologist in private practice in Portland, and she is the author of This Never Happened, a memoir about her childhood journey with narcissistic parents and her relentless search for the truth for belonging and for a deeper understanding of her own life.

We will be discussing a range of topics, such as the meaning of forgiveness, the deep human need for belonging, and the important work of rewriting our childhood scripts.

Making Peace with Questions that May Never Be Answered


You can listen to the full conversation on the following podcast platforms:

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The following is a taste of my conversation with Liz.

Q: What does it feel like to be a child who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her family?
Liz: I just felt very unmoored. I kind of floated from one thing to another to try to develop a clear sense of myself.

Q: What’s your understanding of what people mean when they say, “I forgive you?”
Liz: I think forgiveness is about letting go, which I also believe is kind of a universal challenge for all of us in so many different ways, letting go. Letting go of what I wish I’d had but didn’t, letting go of my resentment about that, letting go of wishing that they were different people, all of it.

Q: Are some acts simply unforgiveable?
Liz: Yes, I do. I think that you can still let go in some ways and not forgive, because I do think that there are some things that are unforgivable.

Q: Does it always need to be said or can forgiveness sometimes emerge organically without explicit verbalizing?
Liz: I think there’s so often the subtext that both people are aware of, right? It’s just it’s in the room, it’s in the relationship all the time. I often think of it as, you know, the thought bubble in a cartoon. And I think that in the healthiest relationships, people speak that thought bubble.

When asked if there’s one last thing she’d like our listeners to hear, Liz says, “Just be brave because the truth will set you free. I really believe that.”

About Liz:
Liz Scott has been a practicing psychologist for over 40 years, helping clients identify life themes and make sense of the puzzle of their lives and she has brought this focus to her writing. She has had numerous short stories published in literary journals and her memoir, This Never Happened, was recently released. She is a Dangerous Writing alumna and she served two terms on the board of Oregon Literary Arts. Originally from New York City, she currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

Find Liz on Social Media:
https://www.lizscott.org/  (Website)
https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.scott.39395 (Facebook)
https://twitter.com/lizscottpdx  (Twitter)
https://www.instagram.com/lizscottpdx/  (Instagram)

Liz’s Book:
This Never Happened

Book Mentioned in the Interview:

Nothing Bad Between Us: A Mennonite Missionary’s Daughter Finds Healing in Her Brokenness, by Marlena Fiol, which is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

About Marlena Fiol:
Marlena Fiol, PhD, is a globally recognized author, scholar and speaker. She is a spiritual seeker whose work explores the depths of who we are and what’s possible in our lives. Her significant body of publications on the topic, coupled with her own raw identity-changing experiences, makes her uniquely qualified to write about personal transformational change. She is also a certified tai chi instructor and freelance writer whose most recent work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and newsletters.

Find Marlena Fiol on Social Media:

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LinkedIn

Podcast Transcript:
Below is a complete transcript of the podcast. I used a transcription service to create this, please note that there may be errors. For a 100% accurate quote of what was said, please listen to the podcast itself via the links above.

Marlena: I am very pleased to introduce today’s guest, Elizabeth Scott. Liz is a psychologist in private practice in Portland, and she is the author of “This Never Happened,” a memoir about her childhood journey with narcissistic parents and her relentless search for the truth for belonging and for a deeper understanding of her own life. So this podcast season is about forgiveness and reconciliation as paths to healing. Liz shares with us her decade’s long tug of war between compassion and resentment toward parents who didn’t know how to parent. I believe her story invites each of us to reflect on the challenges of making peace with questions that may never be answered and the struggle to forgive. Liz, welcome.
 
Elizabeth: Thank you so much, Marlena. What a wonderful perfect introduction.
 
Marlena: Oh, thank you. I’d like you to begin by sharing with our listeners a bit about your life as a child and growing up.
 
Elizabeth: Okay. It’s so complicated weird story, I think. So let’s see, I’m also cursed with a very, very poor memory so I have very, very few actual concrete memories from my childhood. I’ve always wondered how much of that is sort of the way my brain is structured, and how much of it might be more, you know, my defense mechanisms. But I have very, very few…actually only one concrete memory of my father before he left our family. I was about 10 years old when he left. But he was always a very, sort of, I wanna say dark presence. That said, I identified with him more, partly because I was aware from a very, very, very young age that my mother was wacky. So I kind of “chose” my father, you know, chose I’m putting in quotes because I’m sure it was an unconscious thing. I chose my father to identify with, partly because he was so inaccessible, and then he was gone. So it made it, in a way, easier to create an image…
 
Marlena: Imagine him.
 
Elizabeth: Yes exactly, imagine him. And I also happen to look more like him and my, you know, I have features that are more similar to him. And my sister who’s five years younger than I tended to…she was more bonded with my mother. So I, very early on, sort of emotionally checked out of that family. I had a best friend since kindergarten that lived across the street from me, and she also had a very difficult, dysfunctional family. And the two of us were kind of a melded unit. We were always together, always at either at my house or her house. And I think we kind of grew each other up.
 
My mother was very…well, the summary word would be narcissistic but, you know, as I’m sure you and your listeners know that that means that if you’re in a relationship with somebody that has a high degree of narcissism, you don’t really exist except in the ways that you reflect on that person. You know, you don’t really exist as a separate person. So I wasn’t very equipped to taking myself up into the adult world.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah. Just so we’re all on the same page and for the sake of our listeners, people with a narcissistic personality disorder have an inflated sense of their own importance, I would say a deep need for attention, and as Liz noted, a lack of empathy for others. It affects about 1% of the population. It’s more often men than women, and typically younger as opposed to older people. And yet, Harriet Brown who’s another guest on this season’s podcast, she is the author of “Shadow Daughter,” she says, and I quote, “The vast majority of emotionally, mental-health-related estrangements center around a family member and it’s usually a mother who is considered a narcissist.” And she conjectures that there may be more narcissists out there than the medical community believes there are. So my question to you, Liz, based on your experience as a clinician and also your own life journey, what are your thoughts about this?
 
Elizabeth: Yeah. I think it’s fascinating, especially now in our current environment, I think the word narcissist is thrown around rather loosely. And I think people use it, you know, say, “Oh, he’s a narcissist, she’s a narcissist,” when really what they’re talking about is more like an adjective rather than a syndrome, a psychological syndrome. You know, I think obviously, it’s a continuum. It’s not like, you know, a black or white thing, it’s a continuum. We all have some narcissistic tendencies. We have to have them. We have to have a healthy degree of narcissism, right?
 
Marlena: Yeah.
 
Elizabeth: I mean, I’m happy to say that I personally have not had considerable amount of dealings with people that I would consider true diagnosable narcissists. I mean, partly as a therapist, as a psychologist, it’s because I have a hypersensitivity to that, and so I just would not be the right therapist. I will not take on a client who I’m pretty sure is a narcissist. I would not be the right person. So that skews my sense of it too.
 
Marlena: Yeah. You write about not belonging as a child. And one of the most well-researched human needs is that need to belong, and the wounds of not feeling a sense of belonging as a young child, as you well know, run very deep. And so I have two questions for you about this. First, how did it feel? Tell us more about what that feels like to be a child who doesn’t belong, who doesn’t feel like she belongs?
 
Elizabeth: This is such a deep theme for me. I tell a story early on in the book about how when I was younger, several times I asked my mother if she had any brothers or sisters because we never met a single relative, not a single relative, and we never heard about any relatives. And her answer to me was, “I don’t remember.” Which, you’d have to know my mother, there was no point in pursuing that, even though it’s sort of an insane answer.
 
Marlena: A closed topic.
 
Elizabeth: Closed topic, closed topic. So it was my mother, my father, my sister, and me, and my father was absent and then gone, so it was really the three of us. And my mother was a person that I could not count on or rely on. So I felt this kind of untethered feeling like I was kind of floating. You know, I didn’t have a sense of my place in generations. I didn’t have a sense of belonging in that family because it felt like everybody was so crazy. So I just felt very unmoored. And I don’t think I identified that feeling until much later in my life, but as I look back, that’s what made sense to me. And I kind of floated from one thing to another to try to develop a clear sense of myself.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah. And so the next question for me then is, how do you now, as a therapist, think about the damage this creates and what can be done to heal those wounds?
 
Elizabeth: Yeah, for sure. And I think it’s there’s kind of a universal answer to that, in a way, because I think we do have this chance when we become conscious and motivated to re-parent ourselves. You know, I always think of it in terms of taking care of the relationship we have with ourselves. And I think that’s something we don’t tend to think about, the fact that we have a relationship with ourself. And so it’s a matter of being having a sort of nurturing, accepting, validating parental attitude toward oneself so that you don’t need those original sources, you know, you have it within your own power to do that work.
 
Marlena: Yeah. You talk about finding your self, your identity, and at one point, you write, “I have worn my rootlessness like a custom-made, one-of-a-kind, jewel-encrusted cloak,” I love that, “adorned with shiny metals. Having questions is what defines me.” In effect, it seems to me that your lack of roots, the lack of belonging became your identity.
 
Elizabeth: I think that’s so right. And it also, again, in a not very deliberate conscious way, led me to this career, which I’m so grateful for and which I’m so well-suited for. The fact of questions, and searching, and trying to figure out the mysteries, you know, it’s perfect for a therapist.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I assume that part of the healing process is finally shedding that identity, that cloak of not belonging.
 
Elizabeth: That’s very, very true. And, of course, belonging doesn’t require one’s nuclear family. I was just actually talking to a client about this the other day. When I started writing in earnest, which was about 15 years ago, I got involved with the writing community here in Portland, which is just an extraordinary community. It’s very supportive and large and embracing, and it’s just the most amazing thing. And I feel so much a part of it and so much like I belong with this community of fantastic people. It’s been pretty amazing.
 
And on another note, in a very weird turn of events, I found, well, actually, my sister found a cousin, a first cousin that we didn’t know existed. And this was about two or three years ago. She lived in Chicago at the time, and she has since moved to Portland. And her son and his partner have moved to Portland, and her daughter’s moving to Portland. So all of a sudden, I have this family, this extended family. And my children, we’re all kind of involved, it’s just an extraordinary thing.
 
Marlena: Is it difficult initially to embrace a family that you didn’t know you had?
 
Elizabeth: No. This was not difficult. This was only like three or four years ago, and I’m so old. I felt very grateful, and she and I get along really well. And I find it like miraculous more than anything.
 
Marlena: I could follow that train of thought about what age does in terms of allowing us to be more flexible, but I think I’ll leave that one alone. As, you know, this podcast season is about forgiveness and reconciliation. And it’s motivated in part by my new book “Love Is Complicated,” which traces my own journey toward reconciliation with my father and his Mennonite Church. It seems to me that the process of forgiving a parent for what they may have done or not done leading to wounds as a very young child. That’s, by definition, a complex and layered process.
 
As children, we’re innocent, we’re vulnerable, we’re trusting, and I would think breaking that trust leads to a much deeper level of trauma than wounds inflicted later in life. And this is reflected in the anguish of your words, Liz, when you write, “This is where I live, smack between pity and rage, between empathy and indictment. And as hard as I look, I still can’t find a place to rest between mercy and pain.” That’s both beautiful and very painful to read. So what’s your understanding of what people mean when they say, “I forgive you?”
 
Elizabeth: Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Yeah. I’m not sure I know the answer to that. I think, for me, I’m in a much different place than when my parents were alive, especially my mother. When she was alive, if I didn’t have to see her or talk to her, I could find a place of equanimity and feel compassion for her, clearly difficult struggles in her life. She was so infuriating to me, and it just messed me up so much when we would ever be in each other’s presence or when I would talk to her on the phone that I couldn’t hold onto it. So she’s been dead for 15 years now. And in that time, I’m…yeah, once in a while I’m aware of feeling angry and feeling regret, I guess, and wishing I’d had what I wish I had. But I have let go.
 
So I think the long drawn out answer to your question is I think forgiveness is about letting go, which I also believe is kind of a universal challenge for all of us in so many different ways, letting go. So letting go of what I wish I’d had but didn’t, letting go of my resentment about that, letting go of wishing that they were different people, all of it. And it’s obviously something I do for myself, because I didn’t get apologies. So, you know, in some ways forgiveness is easier when somebody asks for forgiveness and apologizes. But it’s certainly…one is able to do that, I think, even without that. Don’t you think?
 
Marlena: I would think so since it’s often more a question of finding peace within ourselves and as you say, letting go, whether that person is asking forgiveness or not.
 
Elizabeth: Right.
 
Marlena: Do you think that there are some actions that are simply not forgivable?
 
Elizabeth: Yes, I do. I do. I think that you can still let go in some ways and not forgive, because I do think that there are some things that are unforgivable. And, you know, forgiveness is…for me, what was required of it was trying to understand what made my mother who she was, trying to understand what made my father who he was. You know, somebody who’s a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath, I mean, I don’t know what makes that kind of person. But I don’t think anybody knows exactly what makes that kind of person. And even if we did know that they came from a horrible circumstance, if you’re going to, I don’t know, molest a child, I don’t know, I wouldn’t forgive that.
 
Marlena: Yeah. So if your mother were here right now in this conversation, what would she say about forgiveness?
 
Elizabeth: She would want me to forgive her. And at the same time, she would not be able to articulate what she wanted me to forgive her for. Because, mostly, she would want me to have no negative feelings about her.
 
Marlena: Yeah.
 
Elizabeth: That would be the main motivation.
 
Marlena: Yeah. That gets back to what I said in the introduction, making peace with questions that may never be answered. Yeah.
 
Elizabeth: It does. And that’s been a big thing because since we were so cut off from our family, our roots, our heritage, so many unanswered questions. I have no idea what the real story of my mother’s background or my father’s background, and it’s very frustrating. We did come to learn through very odd circumstances that my mother was the youngest of nine children, actually. So she was the youngest, so all of them I’m sure are dead by now. But gee whiz, I mean, there’s a whole history there.
 
Marlena: Well, there’s a whole long Jewish history you didn’t know.
 
Elizabeth: Yes, exactly.
 
Marlena: Yeah. You state your wish, and I quote, “To clear away the decades of anger and frustration, and grant myself, us,” referring to your mother, “both really the relief of compassion and forgiveness.” And I’m wondering, can that work ever truly be done for any of us?
 
Elizabeth: I’m sure not 100%, I’m sure that’s not a 100% thing. You know, it’s interesting because I don’t know if you found this, Marlena, but like, I’ve had a lot of people ask me if writing the book was cathartic. So my treasured writing teacher when I first started writing always used to talk about how it’s important when you’re writing, especially when you’re writing a memoir, to have some narrative distance from the material so it doesn’t sound like a diary, you know.
 
And so I started writing this maybe 5 years ago, you know, I was probably in my late 60s already. I’d done a lot of my own therapy. I certainly knew a lot about psychological dynamics, worked with clients for 40 years. And so I felt like I had a fair amount of narrative distance from this. So I did not, in any way, set out for this to be a cathartic endeavor. At the same time, the process of writing this and examining myself and my parents as much as I could did bring me to a place of more compassion, more calm, more sense of belonging. I mean, I think it’s the last chapter where I talk about having this sense somehow of being in this ancestral line with all these people I never met. So the actual process of writing this book did bring me to a more place of comfort and compassion and letting go even more of whatever negative feelings.
 
Marlena: Yeah. I’m glad you touched on that because that was a question I was going to ask. Phil Cousineau is another guest on this podcast and he says, “All forgiveness is really self-forgiveness.” Would you comment on that?
 
Elizabeth: Well, I mean, I don’t know if this is what he means, but I mean, I think all forgiveness is something we have to do internally with ourselves. I think that forgiveness requires often forgiving oneself for having unrealistic expectations or holding on to anger too long or not being compassionate enough. But I also think that, you know, it requires forgiving what other people inflict upon you also, so probably both things.
 
Marlena: Yeah. The topic of this podcast season is both forgiveness and reconciliation. How do you understand the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation as it relates to particularly estranged family members?
 
Elizabeth: Yeah. You know, I think reconciliation…I always say to my clients that if you have a very toxic relationship with a family member, you always do have the choice to be estranged, yeah, that’s always a choice we have. I personally think it’s a very drastic choice and has consequences of its own, but I do think it’s important to know that we have that choice.
 
And so for people who have been estranged and want to reconcile, it seems to me it requires an openness on both people’s parts to try to understand and maybe even validate the other person’s point of view to have a sort of open-hearted dialogue about that. I mean, I think that would be true reconciliation. I know a lot of people sort of cover over, you know, for the sake of just getting along because it is such a drastic thing to cut oneself off completely from your family. It’s a pretty drastic decision.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And a lot of people in the world today have made that decision. It’s amazing, really.
 
Elizabeth: It is.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah. At one point in your memoir, you describe a moment before your mom gets out of the car and you write, “Those few minutes…I think you had just been shopping and you’re in the car and she’s about to get out and you write, “Those few minutes are our blessed chance to finally say it, how much we’ve hurt each other. This is our chance, maybe our last chance.” And Liz, here’s my question. Does it always need to be said or can forgiveness sometimes emerge organically without explicit verbalizing?
 
Elizabeth: Oh, what a good question that is, what a good, good question. Ah, gosh. I don’t know how I feel about that. I think there’s so often the subtext that both people are aware of, right? It’s just it’s in the room, it’s in the relationship all the time. I often think of it as, you know, the thought bubble in a cartoon. And I think that in the healthiest relationships, people speak that thought bubble. You know, that they speak it and that the subtext becomes the text. Because, I mean, I can feel it always. I can always feel it. And it creates just that’s subtext that’s not acknowledged, creates distance. And so I guess it depends on what kind of a relationship you want. If you want a truly intimate close relationship, I do think you need to speak it. I do think you need to address the subtext somehow or other. At the same time, you know, some people are not interested in that kind of relationship, are not capable of that kind of a relationship. So, it’s probably not possible with some people.
 
Marlena: Yeah. Liz, you make an important distinction at one point in your book between empathy and pity. Would you say more about this?
 
Elizabeth: Yeah. This has been a challenge for me in my life because my mother really wanted us to feel sorry for her, she wanted everybody to feel sorry for her. She was very, very needy, and I found that pitiable, you know. And so as I grew up, anytime anybody would express anything that was like empathy toward me, it rang that same bell as pity. And so I have had a sort of phobic reaction to it. And that’s still a work in progress for me, I must say, yeah.
 
Marlena: Yeah. Well, there’s something very condescending about pity. Whereas with empathy, it seems to me there’s a lot of identification with the other. You’re empathizing, you are empathetic, you’re identifying with the other, right?
 
Elizabeth: Yes, exactly.
 
Marlena: Which we are together in this as opposed to I’m up here and condescendingly pitying you down there.
 
Elizabeth: Exactly, exactly. And that’s been an ongoing challenge for me is making that distinction. You know, I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me because that feels like pity, and it does feel condescending and has made me feel kind of less than. But I think my mother was…I mostly think of her as a pretty tragic figure because she had so many raw talents, and she was so unhappy and so bound and determined to live out her unhappiness and to sort of bring other people down with her.
 
Marlena: Yeah. Was there any way that you did empathize with her?
 
Elizabeth: Well, I guess I make another distinction here between empathy and compassion, which I think can feel like the same thing. They’re sort of in the same column. I have a lot of compassion for her. I think one way…and this is not a fun thing to cop to, but I think one way I’ve empathized with her is that I think one of the ways we each tried to contend with our own psychological-emotional struggles was through men, through, you know, getting men interested in us. So that’s a coping mechanism or a strategy that we each deployed, not very successfully.
 
Marlena: Yeah. Didn’t you get that message from both parents that you should go after men to get their attention?
 
Elizabeth: Yeah. I mean, in opposite ways, my father because he abandoned us. And it was sort of inevitable that I would have developed this hunger for the absent male figure in my life. And my mother was a very seductive kind of…you know, she was kind of a man’s woman if you know what I mean. She didn’t have a lot of female friends, and I think that came from a fair amount of self-hatred. So that has been a process in my life. I mean, I don’t think of myself that way anymore at all. But I think early on, it was like that.
 
Marlena: Yeah. Another guest on this podcast is Tom Dewolf. He heads up Coming To the Table, which is a nonprofit seeking to heal the deep racial wounds in this country. And Tom, he’s just extraordinary and Coming To the Table is an amazing organization. And Tom believes that sharing our stories with each other is one of the most effective ways to develop meaningful relationships, to get to know one another, to identify and empathize with one another. Would you say that part of the impossible rift between you and your mother was due to not being able to share your stories with each other?
 
Elizabeth: Well, first of all, I completely agree about sharing stories, completely. Yes, I mean, I guess, with her, I would think of it, again, along the line of all that was unspoken and unsaid and could not be dealt with. And so there was not a foundation of trust to be able to really open up and share our deep stories, you know, our really personal stories. I find that in my…I have a fantastic writing group, just wonderful group of people and everybody’s writing deeply personal things and we have a high degree of trust with each other where we can really be open and be confident that the feedback and what we’re going to receive from each other is completely well-intended and loving and in our best interest and comes from a place of true caring. So it’s a very different circumstance because I trust those people deeply.
 
Marlena: Yes. And you trust them, partly, because you do know their stories, and partly, you know their stories because there was trust, and it’s a bit circular, isn’t it?
 
Elizabeth: It totally, totally is. It really is. And, you know, it’s a funny thing about trust too because often I think that trust has as much to do with trusting ourselves as it is with trusting somebody else. Right? I trust that I’ll be able to handle what reaction I might get. And so I trust that if I get a negative reaction when I share my story that that might not…that I can trust that I can make a judgment about whether or not that’s a good person for me to be in relationship with.
 
Marlena: Yes, good point. So is storytelling something you use as a tool for healing with your own clients?
 
Elizabeth: Well, you know, I think therapy is all about telling story, and reframing stories. And when a client tells me their story, sometimes they’ve never told it to anybody else. And sometimes they’ve just told it to their journal or to their friend, but the act of telling your story to somebody who is there specifically to hear, to listen, to know as much as humanly possible what it’s like to be that other person is a very different thing. So I think all of therapy is about storytelling, and then reframing stories sometimes.
 
Marlena: Yeah. I was going to say maybe getting out of our own story.
 
Elizabeth: Yeah, totally. Because, you know, when we grow up, we are handed the script of a story about ourselves that we learn perfectly. We learn it rote, we learn it, you know…we were off-book completely. And the amazing thing about that is that we get a chance to rewrite that story later on. And for a lot of people, that’s sort of a novel idea, it’s a revelation that, you know, if I grew up in a different family, I’d have a different story.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah. And rewriting that story just like we talked about earlier around the issue of forgiveness is also a process that probably never completely ends.
 
Elizabeth: Never.
 
Marlena: Yeah, yeah.
 
Elizabeth: I know I always say it’s like there’s no crossing the finish line and doing the victory dance.
 
Marlena: Yeah, it’s so true.
 
Elizabeth: Yeah.
 
Marlena: You said earlier that you feel so well-suited for the work that you do, and it’s partly because of your own experiences. To what extent do your clients know about your experiences?
 
Elizabeth: And this is so interesting because, you know, up until the book came out I, you know, followed a good therapist rule of only revealing things if I was positive, it was in the client’s best interest for them for me to reveal something personal. So then I published this book and I certainly didn’t inform my clients of that but, you know, my name was up on the Powell’s [SP] marquee and it was inevitable that some people would find out. And so I’ve had like three or four clients find out about it and read it. And three of the four have found it very, very helpful and they’ve been wonderfully…they’ve given me great feedback in terms of how it’s made them feel supported and even better and even, you know, value our relationship more. The other person was very disappointed because, in his words, he said he thought I was evolved.
 
Marlena: I’m sorry.
 
Elizabeth: That’s what my reaction was.
 
Marlena: Okay. So then you said what? This is a great opening.
 
Elizabeth: I said, “I’m so glad you brought that up because I don’t think it does you any good. It’s certainly doesn’t do me any good for you to put me on that kind of a pedestal.” I said, “I hope I’m an evolving person, but in no way do I think I’m evolved.” And if there’s some way I’m coming across that gives you an impression, I’d like to know.” He couldn’t think of anything. But I don’t know if you know about this book that came out in the ’70s called “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.”
 
Marlena: No, I haven’t.
 
Elizabeth: It was a pretty popular book at the time, and it was about this exact thing, about how, oh, sort of tempting and compelling it is to think of your therapist as above it all, or having solved all the issues, you know, having arrived and done the victory dance, having no issues at all, and how destructive that is because we’re all on this journey together. You know, we’re all mucking around doing the best we can. As I said to this client, “I have a particular set of skills that make me a good therapist, none of which means I’m perfect or that I have no issues, none of them.” And it doesn’t do him any good to have that standard that he thinks, you know, he needs to achieve because I personally think that’s impossible for any of us. So it was a fascinating…
 
Marlena: Yeah. It’s a great opportunity for you to open that conversation with him.
 
Elizabeth: Yeah, I thought it was amazing. It was just really unanticipated and amazing.
 
Marlena: Yeah. So Liz, if there were one last thing that you’d like our listeners to know, what would it be?
 
Elizabeth: Yes. Well, I think, as I just said, we’re all in this mess together. We’re all trying to figure it out, and this sounds so terribly trite, but the truth will set you free. And I think being as brave as we can…I put a sticky note on my computer as I was writing my book that said, “Be brave.” So anytime there was a decision to make whether to go forward or to pull back a little bit, I just thought I gotta risk it. You know, just be brave because the truth will set you free. I really believe that.
 
Marlena: This has been a great conversation. Liz, you are a seeker of truth. And thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.
 
Elizabeth: What a complete pleasure, Marlena. Thank you so much.
 
Marlena: I’ve been speaking with Liz Scott, whose latest book is “This Never Happened.” You’ll find details on the show notes about how to contact Liz, and how to purchase both her book and my new book, “Nothing Bad Between Us.” I’ll also post a link to my website. And thank you, our listeners, for joining us today. If you know people who would be interested in this podcast, please share it with them. And if you liked it, take a moment to rate and review us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting network. My instructions on the show notes make rating and reviewing easy.

And remember, we are together on this journey.


Nothing Bad Between Us

A Mennonite Missionary’s Daughter Finds Healing in Her Brokenness

This story differs from similar accounts of childhood domination or abuse because it tells the story of the author’s seemingly paradoxical responses to the powerful forces in my life, but doesn’t leave it at that. It sheds light on the social and religious dynamics underlying these responses, giving readers insights into and understanding of her otherwise incomprehensible choices, as she found my way back into loving relationships with her parents and the Mennonite community.