So I was sitting on the therapists’s chair not too long ago when the topic of Masonry came up. You never know how these therapy visits will turn out, I guess this day was my special day. Specifically, it was me admitting to being a Freemason. I have some people and groups in my life that are not fond of Masonry, and I keep my identity a secret primarily because of these people. I love being a Mason, don’t get me wrong. But keeping my identity a secret sometimes causes distress for me. Not all the time though. But enough where I figured I should mention it to my therapist.
Quick tangent. I’m seeing a therapist for a variety of reasons. The best explanation I can give is that us Masons are always looking to perfect our rough ashlar (our mind) and therapy is a perfectly acceptable and intelligent way of doing this. Self-Improvement can’t come through Masonry alone. And a lot of major executives have gone through therapy at one point or another. Read “Never Eat Alone”, it’s in there. I swear! Also I believe it. Being an executive is a cut throat job where you have to live a crazy life. Besides I work in the film industry. Seeing a therapist all makes sense to me.
So today I was in the session when I profaned (outed) myself as a Mason to my therapist. I had been stalling for a while on telling him I was a Mason. I was afraid to let him know about this right away. I wanted him to know I was a real person before I took the risk of letting him know about me being a Mason. But I can tell you that when you become a Mason, you ARE a Mason. It’s who you are. You can’t ever fully escape it an separate it from yourself. It’s like being Irish, or American or a Christian. It’s who you are. To expect a therapist to be able to fully fix my problems without me giving him the full picture would be a waste of our time and my money. So I said fuck it, I might as well do it now.
Therapists are experts at hiding their body language. Masons are also experts at hiding body language, or better then average anyways. Reason being is that when we see people saying nutty things about Freemasons, we have to make sure they don’t know we’re part of the craft as well. And trust me, it can be a real test. So when I told my therapist I was a Mason, I was immediately analyzing his reaction. I’m getting pretty good at knowing when people are hiding their thoughts. But he was an expert. he sat there, quietly. Taking it all in. I couldn’t read much out of him.
I got into the details about why I was a Mason and I explained the distress I was sometimes having dealing with this double life. I explained how constricted I felt having one aspect of my life was seen in a very negative way by a lot of people. And their negativity to Masonry didn’t make any logical sense and many of their reasons where based on fiction or even tradition. But as I was delving into this new aspect of my life with my psychologist, something happened. I stopped.
Masons swear an obligation to not reveal the secrets and mysteries of Masonry, to NO ONE. Not even my psychologist. Moments ago, I was dribbling out how I was a Mason and attending lodge, and then in an instant I was silent. I hadn’t revealed anything, but I realized I was on the path to revealing mysteries of the craft. My psychologist asked me what Masonry was like. I told him that my brothers were great (true), I loved my lodge (true), and I enjoyed the Masonic lifestyle (mostly true). He could tell I was holding back. I realized that he would never know certain life experiences of mine. And he knew that but wasn’t saying anything. We both were holding back. Welcome to Masonry in the 21st century.
I proceeded to tell him reasons why I joined. That was safe at least. Some of my reasons were mundane and obvious, some controversial and complicated. I poured out my thoughts, fears, and emotions to him. I put myself out there, like I had never done before. The secrecy of the therapist room was the only way I could do this. I felt protected here.
As a note, I get the irony of all of this. The double irony I mean. I’m a Freemason who has a secret life that prevents me from telling my therapist about my secret life. But you could say I have a secret life in my therapists office and I have an “obligation” of keeping what I say in there, in there. And that is one of the few places what I am supposed to not be secretive and and to be uncensored. Yet here I am, secretly posting about my therapy visit online for the world to see. So there’s that.
After I told him about my Masonic life, he regaled to me how he had a friend a long while back who became a Mason. He knew what the experience was like. I warmed up. He would understand me. I discussed identity issues, and touched on how many Masons become successful. For me, the things taught in Masonry, the focus on self-improvement, the focus on charity, and the out of the box thinking of Masonry helps to create great thinkers and artists. There is a reason so many great writers and artists are Masons. That is what I thought anyways. Then he gave his response.
He said a reason why Masons are so successful was because you tend to meet many powerful people there. He didn’t mention any other reasons. I bristled. Interesting response. I countered.
I explained how Masonry’s system and identity can help people think differently and be seen differently. He then responded how the powerful people in Masonry can help other people see your work and get it exposed. Fuck. He wasn’t moving off this powerful connections thing. Yes, there are powerful people in Masonry, but it’s also overblown. If you read the book “10,000 Famous Freemasons” you be blown away at the people listed. A real whose who of people in power. But listen…that’s only 10,000 Masons…out of the 10 million F&A Masons that have walked this earth. Trust me, we do well. Very well sometimes. But powerful people…that’s not the average.
So I sat there, looking at my therapist. But I had the answers, I knew how to respond. Then I had a Costanza moment. My therapist told me we had run out of time. I looked at the clock, he was right. DAMN! I mumbled some things about how things aren’t always what they seem. He got up and started to prep for me to leave. I got up, nodded goodbye and I left.
I stumbled home, wondering if I could see this guy again. I wondered if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and Voltaire ever dealt with something like this. Did they just leave those people? Did they try and educate them about how it’s not some group of powerful power brokers? I remember a brother telling me had was dating this girl, had her back at his place, and she walked out immediately when she found out he was a Mason. He said it was probably never going to work anyways and he moved on. Really!? That’s how to deal with it? What if it’s someone you really like? Someone who has all these great qualities…except for one quality… Is this my new normal?
In some ways though, while seeing how they approached it could be helpful, my experience was going to be unique to me no matter how I sliced it. I guess you could say having people say wild and ignorant things about the Masonic experience is as old as time. In my mind, you can’t scurry away from it every time and hide somewhere. Besides, I liked my therapist. Alright I’ll stay. And I’ll educate him about Masonry as he educates me about my Mother/Dad/Whatever issues I may have.