“When my Spirit is in need of a lift, I call my friend Murray Needleman. Seems like I have known him forever; but it’s more like close to half my life. I heard his voice before I actually met him live and in person. You see, once upon a time, Murray, a Clinical Psychologist, was a radio talk show host on Philadelphia station WWDB. He had a call-in show on Friday nights and people would pour the contents of their hearts out for Murray to help them sort through and patch back together. In soothing tones, with a strong Philadelphia accent, he would challenge their worn out beliefs and assist them in finding their own answers. He became a friend of ours when my husband Michael and I were publishers of Visions and we sponsored him as a speaker at our office. I know it’s a platitude, but to know Murray is to love him. He always senses when to call me or if I call him, he always says the same thing: “I was just thinking about you, dear heart.” This time, I needed an emotional tune up, precipitated by the ordeal with the loss of voice and the accompanying fears, so I called Murray to schedule an appointment with him. A few days later, I found myself in Murray’s eclectic office, greeted with a warm, welcoming hug. My friend contains multitudes…part Buddha; physically and spiritually, part playful imp who loves to make waves and then help people ride them, part colorful cosmic clown, part compassionate listener (one of the best I know) and part dedicated therapist for the past 40 some years, with an encyclopedic knowledge of human behavior. Also know that Murray is his own man when it comes to fashion. Year round, his feet are shod in Birkenstocks sans socks. He generally wears a tropical style shirt. His crowning glory these days is snowy linen white, that encircles a face with angelic eyes that peer out behind many years of laugh lines. Ushered into the waiting room and offered ginger tea (the strongest I have ever had) and clementines, I gazed at the walls which were embellished with photos that his wife Anne had taken of the Grand Canyon, a poster of Albert Einstein, another that gave instructions for “How To Launch A Dream”, a sign that encourages the reader to “Embrace The Weirdness” and another that says “When you don’t understand, the world is as it is. When you understand, the world is as it is.” On the wall near his office was a familiar sight; the framed cover of Visions Magazine that featured the grinning face of Murray circa 1988. He still had it!
Entering his inner sanctum, I beheld the image of one of my spiritual teachers; Ram Dass; a poster from the original Woodstock concert in all its psychedelic glory, several photos of Murray with one of his teachers; Muktananda, others of Murray and his grandchildren and still another of Murray wearing a dashiki, standing in front of Cinderella’s castle with Anne and their two young children back in the 1970’s. On his desk were a few Buddha’s, Yoda, a crystal, a big toothy grinning smile on a spring and a sign that read “I only have ears for you.” On the inside of his door was an Alex Grey poster and on another door, a sign proclaiming the virtues of “Paradox and Surprise” which is really what life is about.
Settling down into a comfy chair within arm’s length proximity of Murray; the better to allow him to reach out with physical support, the session began. In the nearly two hours we spent together; we left no stone unturned. His on-target observations had me laughing and crying alternately and then simultaneously. Good thing he had lots of tissues. Three of the biggest represented demons that I have long carried. Some of it involved the persona that I present vs. who I really am. He reminded me that I need not do anything to be loved, that the magic isn’t in being the writer-speaker-clown-healer-networker. “You’re the magic.”, he emphatically told me. All that fluff isn’t necessary.” Then as we explored relationship issues, he said “I want to you say these words… Come to me, I won’t kill you.” Gulp and then sobs…for so long, on some level, I believed that although I hadn’t killed my husband (the Hep C virus that had ravaged his body and ultimately took his life was within him long before we met), I couldn’t heal him either. There wasn’t enough love in the world to do that, since I knew on some level that 48 years was all he had signed up for. My fear on an unconscious level was that I would love again and the person would die. No wonder I have kept The One at bay! Lastly, he asked me, ” Can you accept someone in your life right now, as is? As you are, without changing anything in your situation or yourself? Are you ready for that?” Another deep breath and big swallow. At that point, the familiar (from last week) fifth chakra closing/choking sensation kicked in and a sharp pain in my left ear ensued. When I told Murray about these unpleasant sensations, he grinned, knowing that we had hit a home run on that one. “Who are you if you come as you are?” he queried. “Just average, nothing special.”, I replied sadly. He assured me again, that the magic wasn’t going anywhere. He invited me to end the contract with Michael; the one that spoke of pain and loss. He encouraged me to end the contract with my 18 year old son Adam; the one that dictated a commitment to take care of him beyond what was reasonable. He instructed me to write a contract with myself. And so I am doing all three simultaneously. Today at work, I posted a two word sign on my office wall that says quite simply: ” AS IS”.
As I am integrating all of this today, I express deep gratitude to my dear friend Murray for loving me, as I am learning to love myself: “as is”.
Re-reading the insights of the six year younger Edie, tears are flowing, since not much has changed in terms of the fears that haunt me. Yes, I have more resilience, more aha moments that have me grinning with recognition of what is so. I have gathered around me, kindred souls who reflect Murray’s beliefs about who I am and yet, sometimes those doubt monsters come roaring back at me. And so it seems, I am a work in progress.
Are you willing to (at least consider) accepting yourself ‘as is’? Let’s take this voyage together.