THE ‘SIDE EFFECTS’ OF HOFFMAN

As I have already stated, doing the Hoffman Process, literally, saved my life.  Just as my last three posts were titled, it was a huge leap of faith for me.  It was truly an experience like none I had ever had before, nor have I done anything like it since.  I am forever grateful that I was able to find it when I did, that I had a very supportive (soon to be ex) husband and that I had the resources necessary to do it.  My life so completely changed afterwards.  Something very fundamental shifted in me.  It was clearly something that needed to shift.  BH (before Hoffman) I was a very pessimistic person.  Even after having ‘done’ the antidepressant drugs and therapy, there was still something not quite right in me.  It is very difficult to explain how I was different, why I felt so much better, though I will do my best.

When I left to drive back to Chicago, the world seemed somehow brighter.  I felt more alive, like every part of me was happy.  That feeling in itself was odd for someone who had been perpetually depressed and unhappy for most of her life.  Depression is a weird and insidious thing.  It’s not that I had a bad life, quite the opposite, but I never felt that good, let alone great, and certainly not happy.  Okay, maybe on occasion, for a short amount of time, I felt okay, or good enough to keep me going.  Believe me, that is no way to live, and, yet, I know many people do it, day in and day out, for their entire lives.  So, on my drive, I noticed something very strange: no more road rage.  None.  It was all gone, and it stayed gone for a good 9 or 10 years.  Sadly, it has started creeping slowly back in.  It’s not bad, certainly not like it used to be, but I do find myself getting mad at other drivers.  I have to make a real conscious effort to relax and realize that no one is purposely ‘out to get me.’  It was nothing I consciously decided to rid myself of, it just happened as a result of doing the Process.

For years, as long as I can remember, I have always had headaches.  When I was a teenager, I suffered from migraines that appeared every 6 weeks or so.  They did not seem to be connected to my periods, but they did show up just as regularly.  The worst one I ever had lasted 13 days.  Yes, THIRTEEN DAYS!  My (physician) mother finally took me to the doctor to see if there was anything that could help.  The doctor wanted to test my tolerance to pain (clearly I had a lot) and did so by giving me a shot in my hip.  I could tell that the needle was tiny, but it hurt so much that when he told me he could give me another shot that would make my headache go away in 20 minutes, I said, “No way!”  My thinking was I had had the headache for 13 days so it was bound to go away soon, even without a shot.

The really bad thing about my migraines as I got into my late teens and early 20s was how they affected me.  I had blind spots in my eyes and when I would look at a person, I could not see his or her face.  Everyone was headless.  This was a real problem when I was driving.  Not only could I not see people’s faces, now I couldn’t see whole cars.  I would have to pull over, carefully, and call someone to come and get me.  Over time, the migraines eased up a bit, but I still had regular headaches.  I rarely did not have a headache.  There was always pain, but I was so used to it, I mostly ignored it.  I have probably taken enough aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen in my lifetime to kill a herd of elephants.

Very unexpectedly, AH (after Hoffman) my headaches were gone.  Completely!  I had no pain at all in my head anymore.  As far as side effects go, this was a great one.  13 1/2 years later I rarely get headaches, and if I do, it’s because I really have a pain in my head.  All the headaches I suffered for all those years were, apparently, stored and repressed anger, and once I dealt with the underlying causes of that, they had no choice but to disappear.

I always had a potty mouth.  Not horrible, but not so nice, either.  I had read a book by Hugh Prather in the early 90s called “Notes To Myself.”  I do not have the book in front of me, so I cannot quote it exactly; but he said something to the effect of ‘when you swear, all I hear is the swear words and not what you are trying to say.’  At the time I had boyfriend who like to yell and swear and that’s all I could hear.  So, even then I was doing my best to be more conscious of not swearing.  Let’s just say, I wasn’t that successful at it.  AH, though, that all changed.  I was doing something and felt the need to swear.  When I opened my mouth to say, oh, who knows, ‘shit’ or ‘fuck,’ out of my mouth came, ‘oh, bother.’  I just started laughing.  To this day, I rarely swear, and when I do, it is way more effective.  And, really, I think it sounds crass to have every other word come out of your mouth be a swear word.  I will admit, I sometimes do swear when I am alone, especially if I am angry or frustrated at something or someone.  But, like I said, I hardly ever do it in front of anyone.  I have friends who have said they have never heard me swear, and that’s a good thing, I think.

These are just three of the ‘side effects’ I ‘suffered’ as a result of doing the Hoffman Process. All are good and all helped to improve my life, I’d say.  There are so many more, some big, most small, that I wouldn’t even be able to list them.  The entire 10 days was such a life-changing experience.  There are hundreds of Hoffman graduates in the San Diego area, and we have monthly gatherings to continue to work the tools we learned, and to stay connected to each other.  I know Bob Hoffman (founder of the Process) is smiling down on me.

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