A Tribute to Michael

Michael had been brutally beaten on the streets when he was a child. Not surprisingly, when he was a teenager he began to hit back. He became a fighter and a powerful boxer. But as an adult, he grew to be a lover, a friend, a devoted husband and an inspiration.
A year ago this week we lost a dear person who many people at our clinic loved.He was a role model in our Thursday morning Grouptherapy.  Recently his beloved wife brought in the poem below. It was a worn laminated poster that, for many years, had a place of honor on the bulletin board in our Group Room. She said, “I think Michael had given this as a gift to the Group and I wanted to bring it back here! ”

It is an insightful poem about the journey in therapy and in life! At the most appropriate times,  it was taken down and read many times.  This is one of Michael’s many gifts to the world:


Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

      1. I walk, down the street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I fall in

            I am lost……I am helpless

                                    It isn’t my fault.

          It takes forever to find a way out.

  1. I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I pretend I don’t see it.

            I fall in again.

            I can’t believe I am in the same place.

                                    but, it isn’t my fault.

           It still takes a long time to get out.

  1. I walk down the same street

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

            I see it is there

            I still fall in ……it’s a habit.

                                    my eyes are open.

                                    I know where I am.

            It is my fault.

            I get out immediately.

  1. I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I walk around it.

  1. I walk down another street.

Thank you, Michael!



9 thoughts to “A Tribute to Michael”

  1. I am so sorry to hear about Michael. I spent a lot of Thurs mornings in group with him. I always loved to hear his response to the person in focus. He was a very wise and compassionate man. Such a great loss.

    1. Thank you Susan for sharing your thoughts about Michael. He touched many hearts. We feel honored that we spent some time with him. Bette did a wonderful job in reminding us all of that special man. Stay in touch. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  2. Thank you for sharing the poem by Portia Nelson in remembrance of Michael, and the reminder that it has been one year. I am familiar with it, and it is always good to read it again, always resonant. I met Michael on a Thursday morning just over four years ago, and on many subsequent Thursday mornings where I got to know him a little better in group. I started sometime after he did, so I unfortunately missed a lot of his contributions. But I always looked forward to seeing him and hearing what he had to share with us, to absorb his feedback, to hear about his family . I once expressed to Sohail that Michael was someone I’d like to have known better, to have heard more of his stories in a different environment, over a beer or coffee somewhere. He seemed like a really cool guy with lots of wisdom, though I’m sorry for the suffering he experienced on his journey, for his difficult childhood; I understand. To his credit though, he did the work and rose above the adversity, and we all benefited from the things he learned, and shared with us. I’m encouraged, and inspired, that he found the strength to achieve the place, and the peace, that he needed in his life. Thanks Michael, it was good to know you.



    1. Wayne, thank you for your comments about Michael. I think you and he would have had a wonderful friendship out side of the Group. You share his desire for personal growth and inspired dialogue.
      It is wonderful to see your contribution to our Blog. I hope you continue to share.
      Take good care of yourself.

  3. I was deeply touched by this poem simple and deep. I work for a boat camp where my clients are the substance abuser and offender of criminal activities . I am going to read this poem for them in my group therapy session. I am sure Micheal’s poem will help them to prevent relapse and criminal activities and it will be a great tribute to his soul.
    I also wanted to share one short inspiring write up of my very dear friend who lost her child more than a year ago. Although she never talked about it but finally has started processing her grief through her blog. Yes grief is a process and not an event. They need time. Her 10 years old son was lost in an accident. She wrote
    “What matters is a pure heart

    What do people notice; big eyes, fair complexion, soft skin. I found all those attributes in you.

    What I was used to notice; shinning eyes, broad smile, eye-contact, confident gestures. I found all those in you.

    I was used to notice how people sit. How they place their legs, how they move their hands, how their neck is positioned. You were used to keep the legs straight while sitting on the sofa, twist them while sitting on a low chair, and bending while lying on the carpet. You were used to put the ankle sometimes on the table and I had to correct that. Many times I found you putting both hands separately on the table-perfect. Didn’t you have all the signs of a star.

    You have told me that what matters is a pure heart. What remains is the memory of the warmth in the eyes, sound of laughter, and sprinkle of joy over the face. This world is a fake place. Here glitter is produced in the factory and confidence comes from the status. I feel relieved that you do not have to notice all that. You left when your laughter was pure and your smile was reflection of what you felt. You did not have to pose that you like something. I was disappointed when before coming to Memphis we were buying the quilt cover and you paid no attention to my choice of car theme. I was disappointed when you gave a shoulder to the new phone I bought one week before the accident. I looked for features which can please you and you did not care. You were more keen to get the parcel from nani with your birthday gift. But this is how I should live; look for joys in small things, in the things that matter to me. I think I am trying to match you, my son.

    1. Dear Gohar Taj, Thanks you for your thoughtful comments and sharing a story. I am hopeful that sharing Michael’s story with your clients will inspire them. I am impressed how you think about the people you serve. They are lucky to have a kind, caring and compassionate therapist like you.
      Dt Sohail

  4. Dear Bette,

    What an honur you give Micheal and his family by remembering him in this blog.
    This shared memory is a wonderful way to give addtional healing, to the Thursday morning group; to you; and your colleagues, on the one year anniversary of his loss.

    As a role model, it sounds like Michael gave many gifts.
    The poem his thoughtful wife brought back ito you ,is particularly poinent
    I see it also as a road map for those of us seeikng a sincere change in our actions and reactions.

    It would have been a privilege to have known him
    Thank you for giving me this snapshot into his life.

    1. Thanks you for your feedback, Darlene! I know you understand the importance of honoring the process of grieving because of your own wisdom around this issue.
      Michael was a dear man who inspired many because of his courage. He is deeply missed.

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