A CHANGE OF PLANS

For a long time, as a society, we seemed to think that once it was decided what we wanted to do or what we wanted to be when we ‘grew up,’ we could not change, that we had to stay in our chosen fields, to stick it out, even if we were not happy with what we were doing.  These days, though, it is not unusual for people to have several, if not many, different careers.

As many of you know, I have had my own business for 24 years now.  While I enjoy what I do (custom home furnishings,)  I can get burned out and long for something different.  The truth, though,  is I am very good at it.   I love to create beauty for people’s homes and their lives, and I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  That being said, as you may also remember me writing about desiring a chance in my life right about the time I was sexually assaulted.  My attack resulted in me launching this website with the intention of helping other women who had been through a similar experience.  You may also remember that I posted pictures of my dream/vision board, which I had made in July 2012, about a month after the sentencing of my attacker to prison.  What I did not say at the time was how more specifically this vision board came about.  Just the other day, though, I came across what I had written the day we made our boards.

Rather than just making the board on my own, my local Hoffman facilitator held a special gathering, apart from our normal monthly meetings, where we did guided visualizations to help us clarify what we were hoping to manifest into our lives.  What follows is the notes I took from the various exercises we did.   Keep in mind that I was still a good four months away from finishing my EMDR, and, as it turned out, a few years away from being truly through my experience:

 

“Message from Spiritual Guide –  pay attention to ALL that is happening to you; it is ALL happening for your highest good.

What do I believe is preventing me from manifesting my vision?   Fear

Elevator question – What are my self-limiting beliefs that keep me from having what I truly desire in my life?

(What I got from the elevator exercise)  Very fancy elevator opens to a very pattern-rich (floral sky, striped trees, plaid grass, color everywhere) scene that is a cross between Dr. Seuss, H.R. Puff-n-Stuff and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, where everything is make-believe and happy and where nothing bad happens.  It feels like the happiest place on Earth (sorry Disneyland.)  Everyone is smiling, happy and helpful.  The sun is shining.  I don’t really seem to be a part of it though.  I am looking into a place I’d like to be.

(Then the question asked was, What is your vision for the future?)    My vision is to help women who have been victims of sexual assault by giving them a platform where they can tell their stories, anonymously if necessary, so that they are able to heal themselves emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.  I also am affecting change in the ‘system,’ in how victims are treated though the entire process.  I see myself teaching the police. EMTs, DAs, and any and everyone who comes in contact with the victim so that they are more compassionate and understanding.  Just as it takes a village to bring up children, I think it takes a village to help heal those who have been harmed.”

 

 

I find it very interesting that my vision was so clear even though I was still in the middle of my healing process.  What changed for me, however, was/is the fact that most women simply do not want to talk about such a horrific event in their lives.  While I do understand the reluctance, I also feel that it is important they do it anyway.  Unless and until someone is ready to talk about it, though, there is not a lot I can do to ‘make’ them talk.  Nor do I want to.  Because of this, I changed the focus of this site.  Instead of a platform for others, it is simply a place for me to continue to tell my story.  I hope in this that it is clear that healing and recovery are possible if you truly want it and are willing to do the work.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not, but my experience is that it is absolutely vital.

 

Advertisements

THE FOUR AGREEMENTS – A TOLTEC WISDOM BOOK

I loved this book when it was first given to me shortly after I did the Hoffman Process.  I then bought and gave it to everyone I knew.  I have read it many times and now even have it from audible.com.  Just as with any other book, listening to it is a whole other experience.  Since I love being read to, it’s perfect!

The Four Agreements are:

“BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD  Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY  Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS  Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others  as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST  Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.”

Simple enough, yes?  Well, maybe simple, but not necessarily easy to do.  Any yet I know that when I actually practice these 4 agreements, I am much happier.  The book, though relatively short, is quite powerful; and I’ve also found, the more I read it, the more likely I am to remember the agreements and to live by them.

DSCN3591

The author, Don Miguel Ruiz, has also written several other books, which are also good: “The Fifth Agreement,” “The Mastery of Love” and “The Voice of Knowledge,” among others.  All are just as insightful and inspiring, though my favorite remains “The Four Agreements.”

IT’S NOT A STRAIGHT LINE

As much as I’d like it to be, as much as I’ve tried to make it be, it simply is not a straight line.    In my mind it goes something like this — you get attacked, you do whatever it takes to make sure your attacker is prosecuted and sent to prison, you go to therapy, and you are healed.  But what happens when you get attacked, you do everything you can to make sure your attacker is prosecuted and sent to prison, you go to therapy, and you aren’t quite healed?  If you are me, apparently, you beat yourself up for not being where you feel like you should (there I go, shoulding myself) be at this point.  I have been accused in the past of being too hard on myself, for holding myself to some impossible standard or ideal that pretty much no one could ever attain, and when I, of course, fail to achieve it, I then beat myself up.  This is a vicious cycle and it needs to stop.  The question is how to do I do this, how do I get off this merry-go-round?

I am not sure why I have such a hard time acknowledging and being proud of myself for how incredibly far I have already come.  I can easily say that I understand this to be true on some level, but I’m not sure I truly understand that to be the case.  I think I want it to be true, because otherwise all the work I’ve done, and it is considerable, would seem to be for nothing, and that might just put me over the edge.  Some days I do see the progress I’ve made and I feel good about it.  Other days, though, the most innocuous comment sends me off the deep end.  And, worst of all, sometimes it is me who makes that comment.  Like today.

I was accused (and rightly so) of being mean to myself.  At first I did not see it this way.  I was being sarcastic about what I was saying about myself.  I used to be a very sarcastic person (pre-Hoffman), but these days I rarely use sarcasm because I now understand that sarcasm is just thinly veiled anger.  And I make an effort to be kind, not condemning to others.  I somehow forget to include myself in that effort.  (How’s that for irony?)  Then it was pointed out to me that perhaps it is myself that I am angry at, for not being what I call ‘done with my healing.’  This, of course, starts me on the hamster wheel yet again.

All of this happened today in my energy healing session with Marsha Bliss.  I am still in physical pain, and though not a lot, it is still enough to make me want to do something to get rid of it.  While Marsha was working on me and we were talking about my post a week ago about my ‘new normal’, as in, is the way my life is now my new normal?  Marsha made up an example of someone who has lost a limb, and after a period of time, is now skiing.  This person has not let the lack of a leg stop them from moving forward.  This has become the new normal for them.  Something about that conversation triggered an incredible sadness in me and the tears to go with it.  Here’s the thing – when we see someone, (from the outside, because, really, unless you’ve been there, you can NEVER know what goes on behind the scenes, what goes on inside of them,) who has triumphed after a tragedy and we think, wow, this person is happy and has moved on and bla, bla, bla.  That’s just it, we simply do not know what happens when they go home at night, if they are crying themselves to sleep or are one step away from suicide or really are doing okay, in spite of it all.  We just don’t know.

 

I wrote the above paragraphs last night, and while I have no idea if they somehow influenced my dreams, I did have really weird dreams and woke up this morning feeling rather blue.  Then when I was going through my emails, I came upon the following quote, which gives me enormous hope:

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”   ~Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been nothing if not persistent in my desire and actions to move through this traumatic event.  And something else Marsha said yesterday has been running around in my head, and that is that we are never done with whatever it is we are doing in our lives.  If we’re done, we’re dead.  I get this, I really do.  I understand that once we get through, put behind us or in some other way move on from a situation, traumatic or otherwise, something else is bound to come up.  We’ve all heard the adage that God, Life, the Universe (whatever word you want to use) never gives us more than we can handle.   I believe this.  I even have it posted above my desk (don’t always remember to look up to read it, but it’s there.)  And as much as I subscribe to this belief, I always just as often forget about it.  I think what all this means to me is I just have a lot more stuff to deal with, and not all of it, maybe even none of it, has anything directly to do with my attack.  I definitely attribute, if not all, most of what I am dealing with these days to that one event, and that would be because so much of it seems to stem from it.  Physically, I have not been the same since, so it makes sense that it would be the reason.  And, really, it probably is.  At the same time, what this also means is there is still unresolved issues from my past that are arising now because I am finally at a place in my evolution that I am able to deal with them.  That is both comforting and annoying.   So, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald from “The Great Gatsby,” I beat on, boat against the current, born back ceaselessly in the past.

 

 

THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL

Back in 2000, when I realized I had to get a divorce, again, my husband asked if we could go to couple’s counseling.  I said yes.  My acupuncturist at the time gave me the name of a wonderful therapist, and we went to her.   Trouble was, it was very clear right from the start that therapy was not the answer, at least not as a couple.  I continued seeing Cate by myself, though.  Cate was also the person who eventually recommended Hoffman to me, which as you know if you read my posts about my experiences doing the Process, was life altering and life saving for me.  Anyway, I was just reading through my journal from the fall of 2000, looking for specifics about when exactly Cate recommended the “Conversations With God” series of books.  I found two references to it in my journal, but nothing more than that.  I do know that, although she told me about the books in November, after I returned from doing the Process in Wisconsin, I did not actually read the first one until later in December.

I came out to California to look for a place to live, and had no luck.  I needed a very specific house, with hardwood floors, a fenced yard, a garage, etc.  Rental properties in Los Angeles were so different from those in Chicago, so much more expensive, and Chicago in not an inexpensive city.  So after a week of searching, I went back to Chicago empty-handed, so to speak.  Then I read “Conversations With God,” and my whole outlook and way of speaking to myself changed.  Let me back up a minute here before I explain just how impactful the book was.  If you had asked me at any point in my life if I believed in God, my answer would have been a resounding NO!  I had had unpleasant experiences with religion as a teenager and had never seen anything good about it.  When I finally read CWG, Book 1, I suddenly understood why I had such a negative view of God and religion.  I realized that I did believe in God, just not in a vindictive, mean God, which was my understanding of what/who God was up to that point.  It was truly a life-changing book for me, and when I came back out to Los Angeles in January of 2001 to look again for a house, I found what I was looking for.  When I made the trip in December, I kept saying, ‘I hope I find a house.’  After reading CWG, I understood I had been ‘asking’ in the wrong way.  For the second trip, I said, ‘thank you for my new home.’  I knew I would be shown exactly what I needed, at a price that I could afford, in an area I wanted to be.  I KNEW!  And that’s what made the difference.  What I learned from CWG, and many subsequent books since, was it is all in the way we ask for or intend things in our lives.  In my daily prayers, I never ask for anything.  I simply thank God for whatever it is, as if it is already here.  So instead, as an example, of saying, ‘Please send me more work,’ I say, ‘thank You for all the great jobs I have.’  Because even if I don’t have any work at that moment, I know more is on the way.  And why was this such a life-changer for me?  Because right from the start it worked!  And continues to each and every day.

I went on to read CWG, Book 2 and Book 3, and have since read and listened to all 3 numerous times since.  I highly recommend them, especially if you have a ‘problem’ with organized religion or the concept of God.  They just made sense to me in a way that nothing else, to that point, ever had.  In the last few months, I have also listened to and/or read “The New Revelations,” “Communion With God,” “What God Said,” and “Friendship With God.”  I loved each one, though I think my favorite with always remain the first one I ever read, “Conversations With God, Book 1.”

FORGIVING DOES NOT MEAN FORGETTING

Still working on forgiving – my attacker, of course, and even more importantly, myself. I know it seems strange that I would in any way need to forgive myself for something I did not do, for something I never would have wished upon my worst enemy; not that I really have any enemies, but if I did, I wouldn’t wish a sexual assault on them.

In April, right before I left for a trip to Atlanta, to visit my parents, to go to the Masters and  to Saint Simons Island to visit my friend Kim, I was on my way to the outlet mall down by the border and passed a sign for the exit for Donovan. I have never noticed this exit before on any previous trip. When I saw it, the thought that popped into my head was, “I should go and visit DCD.” (A friend wrote me to tell me that I need to stop calling my attacker ‘cockroach boy’ and start using his name. While I agree that CRB isn’t very nice, what he did to me wasn’t very nice and the best I can do right now is call him by his initials.) And then I thought, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’ I completely forgot about it until my last Hoffman gathering. Well, after doing some research, I found out that DCD is not, in fact, housed at Donovan, but at Kern Valley, which is about a 4 hour drive from here. And in order to visit a prisoner, you have to be on the approved visitor list and the person to approve me is DCD. You actually have to apply to be visitor, and even if DCD said it was okay, the prison system has to okay it, as well. I think my real reason for wanting to go visit him is to ask him WHY? I’m not sure I’d even get an answer and even if I did, it may not be one I want. I’ve thought about it a lot and come to the conclusion that going up to Kern Valley State Prison is not something I am prepared to do. A compromise may be to write him a letter. Again, I am not sure what I hope to really accomplish with this. I may end up writing him and not sending it.

At acupuncture last week, I was lamenting about how long the healing process is taking. Matt said to me, ‘You ARE through it. Right now. You are done.’ Okay, cool! Maybe it really is as easy as that. Yes, I am still dealing with some physical issues that have occurred as a result of the attack. Each day, though, I feel like I am one step closer to being completely healed. Will I ever forget about it? Doubtful, especially since I write about it. Will there always be certain things that are either very difficult or impossible for me to do? I have no idea. Only time will tell.

Whatever the case is for me, however it plays out for me in the future, forgiveness has been on my mind a lot in the last 2 1/2+ years. So as for forgiving myself, just as with DCD, I am much closer than ever to being able to say honestly that I have done it. I am not sure why I blame myself on some level, and I may never understand that. Don’t get me wrong here, I am very clear that I did nothing wrong, that the way I was dressed had nothing to do with it, that I was in the wrong place at the right time, because, to my way of thinking, if it had been the wrong time, it never would have happened. As I have said before, too, I do believe that it happened for a reason and though I did not specifically ask to be sexually assaulted, I had been asking for changes in my life. I am really okay with all of that, which is why it baffles me that I would in any way blame myself. Yet, it is still there to a degree. Clearly, I will be done when I am done. There doesn’t seem to be a way to make it go faster. It will take as long as it takes.

Because forgiveness has been so much on my mind, when the topic for the 7 March 2014 daily reading in my Science of Mind magazine, written by Joanne McFadden, was FORGIVE, this was just another validation that I am on the right path. I loved the essay so I am going to copy it in its entirety:

“After Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s plane went down in the Pacific in World War II, he and the pilot floated for forty-seven days on a life raft. They survived a strafing attack by a Japanese pilot, numerous shark attacks and a lack of food, only to be captured by the enemy. They were brutally beaten, subjected to medical experiments, starved and worked to near death as prisoners of war. One guard, nicknamed “The Bird” by prisoners was determined to break Zamperini. Maintaining humanity and dignity was a daily struggle.

Zamperini survived. However, nightmares of his ordeal kept him emotionally imprisoned for years after the war, plunging him into alcoholism and despair. At first, Zamperini was convinced that vengeance was the only way to reclaim his life, and he became obsessed with it, making plans to hunt down The Bird. Grace intervened. Under protest Zamperini attended a Billy Graham meeting. He was about to get up and leave when he remembered a bargain he made when his raft floated in a dead calm. If God would save his life, Zamperini would serve.

That recollection changed his life dramatically. Zamperini forgave The Bird and went on to create camps for troubled boys, sharing his experiences and showing them a different way of life.

When I have allowed myself to have something to forgive, I like to remember extreme examples like Zamperini’s. If he could do it, so can I.”

Exactly. If Louis Zamperini can do it after the unimaginable things he endured, then so can I.

“It’s a healing, actually, it’s a real healing…forgiveness.” ~Louis Zamperini

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.

LEAP OF FAITH, PART 2

I wrote the following on 18 November 2000:

Summary of My Process

Before actually beginning, or even being aware that such a possibility existed, my little voice that over the years, I believe, has kept me from doing anything I would truly regret, was once again screaming, and I do mean screaming, at me to listen.  It started in August, and, as usual, at first I discounted what it was saying.  I just couldn’t believe it was true.  However, over the course of a few weeks of really listening to and thinking about what had been said to me, I realized it was right.  A chance rental of the movie “28 Days” got me thinking that rehab was exactly what I needed; something so intense and concentrated that I could not walk away.  I asked my therapist if such a thing existed since I had never heard of it for emotional issues, only chemical ones.  She told me that, yes, she did know of a place called the Hoffman Institute that had a branch in Wisconsin and that she much respected the work that they’ve done.  She got the number and I called that day to have the information sent to me.  It didn’t arrive for a week and a half, which stressed me out since I wanted it instantly.  Once, in my own mind, I’d made the decision that it was for me, I wanted concrete facts in from of me.  I wanted to know when and where and how much.  When I finally received the packet, I glanced over it, and my first thought was, oh, this isn’t me for.  J read it more thoroughly, and later that evening, he told me he thought it was perfect for me.  I re-read it and began to think that maybe he was right.  Still, I had my reservations so I asked Cate the next time I saw her.  She again told me that she thought it would be very good for me.  I thought about it a little more, then made the decision to do it.  I called and made the reservation.  After that, I felt a little scared and a little excited, too.  The next day when Fed-Ex brought my enrollment package, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I knew, though, that I had to do it.  I felt, really, as though my life truly did depend on it.  I had made a promise several years earlier to my mother that I would not kill myself, but my spirit (which I know now, saved my life) was dying.  I was dying, and if I didn’t do something drastic, my life would cease to exist in any kind of meaningful way.  The time had come to take real action or I was finished.

A note before I continue — some of what I will be copying won’t make a lot of sense, unless you’ve actually done the Process, but it is more the feeling of what I’m saying than the specifics of what we were doing in the Process.  Also, because I wrote a little over 7 1/2 pages, I will break this into a Part 3.  You have to remember this was 2000, and laptops, if available, were not readily used, so everything was written by hand.  Of course, I still write in my journal by hand – no keeping it on my computer or iPad.  Okay, back to the summary of my Process:

My experiences in the Light Journey, my spirit guide, Child, Intellect and Sanctuary were all so foreign to me.  At the end of the visualization, I was more exhausted than anything else.  I also felt a sense of fullness, that here are parts of me I never even suspected existed, let alone knew of.  I felt as though a lot of missing, very scattered pieces came together at last.  I saw lots of colors swirling around and was amazed at the beauty of it all.  At times it felt awkward as my emotional child has never had that kind of love and attention that my spirit was paying it that day.  After I was able to put those feelings aside, though, I felt very grateful that I could help my emotional child feel loved and whole.  My intellect has done a good, no, make that a great job of helping me deny my true feelings about most everything in my life.  Having to allow my intellect to actually feel was liberating.  It gave me hope.  It made me feel as though I CAN DO IT.  Whatever IT is.  The vision of my sanctuary was very beautiful.  The was a huge hammock that my trinity came together in.  A place where the sun always shines, even as a gentle rain must sometimes fall to water the giant live oaks that support my hammock.  At the end of those visualizations,  I felt relief.

I think some of the most destructive patterns I learned from the major females in my life are self-doubt and never feeling good enough, and a sense that joy and happiness are for other people, not for us, or me. After dis-identifying with those patterns through the exercises we did, I felt a sense of freedom and forgiveness.  And relief that I am not the patterns I learned.  I felt that there is hope.

My experience of using my addictions in the Light also provided hope.  I realized that my addictions were, and still can be if I let them, just ways in which I isolate myself from everyone, including myself.  It has to be a conscious decision, daily really, not to allow it to happen.  In my fantasies, isolation is a wonderful thing, but in reality, it doesn’t really provide anything useful to my spirit or soul.  It actually keeps me from the very things I truly crave: love and a sense that I do belong, that I do, in fact, matter.

The most devastating and destructive patterns I learned from the male presence, or lack thereof, in my life are fear of men, of love, of being abandoned and of commitment.  My experience of dis-identifying with all those patterns through the exercises was similar to that of the female energy.  I also felt a profound sense of relief and lightness.

The compassion session was a sad, but incredibly moving experience.  For as long as I can remember, before this week, I have never viewed death as anything other than freedom from pain and the shitty word we live in, and because of that, it turned out to be harder than I would’ve imagined.  What made it ‘real’ was going to the cemetery and re-living it again there.  That was extremely difficult.  For me, just walking into the cemetery was hard enough, but what we did in the actual exercise was very real and sobering.  I still don’t believe that death is a bad thing, but I can finally see reasons for sticking around now.

Okay, this is where I am going to stop with the summary today.  I have not read this since I left Hoffman and it is kind of hard to take in.  I can see so much more clearly now, and I am able to see just how close to the edge I really was.  Scary!  The good news is I came through it and even now when I start feeling less than good, I have the tools to get myself back to where I need to be, where I prefer to live my life.  I learned so many of those tools at Hoffman, and as I have already said several times, Hoffman truly saved my life.