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Rising From The Ashes

Posted on Tue, 23 May, 2017

Rising from the ashes is a concept long explored in human history. The Greeks named it the Phoenix, the Egyptians called it Bennu, the Native Americans refer to it as Thunderbird, the Russians call it Firebird, the Chinese call it Fèng Huáng, and the Japanese refer to it as Hō-ō. I am going to use Brad Pitt. That’s right, I said Brad Pitt.



The Bird, Brad and Therapy

In a recent article for GQ, Brad opened up about his post-divorce transformation. No great details were shared although some strange metaphors were, but all in all the point is a good one: we are the architects of our own demise and how we transcend that demise makes all the difference. He is rising from the ashes by doing less boozing and more art. Not the film kind either, actual clay.


For me, rising from the ashes means taking a bad experience and making it work for you, learning from it, moving beyond the trappings of shame and fear and seeing who you are afterward. That’s no easy task. Facing ourselves is often the hardest thing to do. The phoenix symbol refers to that rebirth from necessary change.


I respect this article and his weird candor in it. I especially like that he talks about finding the right therapist after shopping around for one. It is SO IMPORTANT to find a therapist that you feel is the right fit or the work isn’t possible. Being vulnerable with someone requires trust and a therapeutic relationship is no different. I love that he was upfront about that.


I have worked with so many different types of people: parents whose children have been removed by CFS, traumas, couples dealing with affairs or domestic violence, victims of natural disasters, victims of terrorism, first responders, families acting out generations worth of injustices or poor communication. There has always been one common theme: at some point we get in our own way, reacting to our histories of abuse or injustice and we enable our further pain. For Brad it was booze (he used that term liberally he belonged in a Frank Sinatra film).



The Reality

For many of my clients it has been substance abuse covering the pain of feeling unwanted, unimportant or out of control of their own lives. For many others it has been shame based on horrifying abuses or the loss of control from being a victim. Whatever it is it usually prevents us from starting over, rising from the ashes. Beginning again as the Phoenix does, allows for growth, new perspectives and experiences otherwise stalled. In the case of Brad Pitt, stalled by himself.


It seems every other news story now is about someone’s bad behavior and acting out that eventually leads to a new self-discovery. Except for Anthony Weiner, the poor bastard. He’ll never get out of his own way. I think that’s why our culture likes reality tv so much – it’s watching the train wreck of people annihilate themselves. Watching how they are reborn afterward seems left to People Magazine or Dancing With The Stars.


We all have something that propels us to change and it’s usually a struggle. Sometimes it’s a crisis, but it’s always uncomfortable. Like emerging from flames as the Phoenix does. Perhaps maturity means you no longer care about seeming perfect while transforming, only that you have (see Lucille above).



Jodi Klugman-Rabb is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Marin and Napa Counties. She specializes in connecting with clients on a humorous and practical level, helpful when specializing in ADHD, trauma and anger/communication skills. She uses EMDR to treat traumas and fears of all types. She is the mom of two funny and awesome kids. Connect with Jodi on her website or

One Response to Rising From The Ashes

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A blog written by a hip, sometimes irreverent shrink who’s been around the block and calls it like it is

Humor is a great way to make sense of the world around us - and a little psychological perspective never hurt

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