In 1984 I experienced an intense psychological transformation. At the time I was in an Adult Children of Alcoholics therapy group. I chose to be there after years of individual therapy and 12 step programs. I remember thinking when I began the weekly sessions that this was going to be a piece of cake. Surely after years of introspection, I knew myself well.
It started the first evening. There were two therapists, a man and a woman, with six clients seated in a healing circle. A story was told. We were then asked individually to comment on our feelings. Terror gripped me. One woman sat in silence while we watched and waited. Another cried continuously. When it was my turn, I babbled foolishly realizing I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what it meant to feel, especially while being scrutinized and on display. For my entire life the balance was lopsided with my thoughts, not my feelings, tipping the scale.
The realization that I was unable to feel, that I had denied everything in my reality and that I had lied to myself most of my life was debilitating. I was sick and overcome with fear. Experience for me had always been dramatic. Being in-group was just what I needed to trigger the pain. That evening was the beginning of an 18-month ordeal, which changed my life forever.
During that time, my past sped before my eyes, as I lay in bed, immobile. The room was dark; light hurt my eyes. My body ached. One week I would vomit incessantly, another I would have diarrhea constantly. I was ill. But what was wrong with me? I didn’t have anything that could be cured with medicine. All I knew, I was suffering and wanted to die.
A death was occurring but not that of my body. My ideas and beliefs were crumbling. The negativity that I had buried for years was erupting like a toxic volcano. I was forced to face the webs and shadows of competition, self-destruction and addiction. It was all I knew. I was scared!
Despair appeared to me as a symbol in the form of a black rock. It represented darkness, inflexibility and rigidity. That part of me that I know as my ego self, felt there was absolutely no hope; no possibility of light. There was heaviness beyond description. I couldn’t even lift my limbs. This went on for a long time. One day in my mind’s eye, I noticed a tiny grain of sand on the black rock. I began focusing on the tiny crystalline speck and watched it begin to grow. It became a glimmer of hope.
Pain was multifaceted. Its symbol was a jagged piece of broken metal, which had movement. I was feeling all the aspects; from physical pain in my body to emotional pain for the loss of my beliefs. After years of denial, I seemed to be experiencing the sensations all at once. The only relief I had was when my cats would visit me in bed. What beauty. I began to invite them more and more.
Loneliness crept up on me. A circle of dim light hovered over my being. It stayed for days. I seemed to be swimming in an abyss of nothingness. After months of the most profound desolation, I heard a voice say, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
At that moment the light brightened. I realized that when you try to hold on to something that no longer supports your highest good, you feel pain, despair, loneliness and frustration. It was time to move on. I could no longer ignore this situation. I needed to actively participate in the changes which were necessary for my soul’s growth.
I had forgotten my true purpose for being. My ego self had been misguided for centuries; off the track. The loneliness and pain was the separation from my higher self. I had lost “myself.”
I began practicing techniques for well being. At first this was difficult and only lasted a few moments. For example, if I were feeling sad because of a personal loss, I would acknowledge it, feel the hurt and allow myself perhaps an hour a day to grieve. Then I would find one thing of beauty to enrich my life. I might take time to read a good book, take a long hot bath or take a walk in nature. If I were feeling despair, I would call a friend to talk or seek a therapist for professional help. For loneliness I would meditate to beautiful music or play a variety of guided meditation tapes. I actually made a list of survival techniques and used it when ideas didn’t spring to mind.
I became more open to letting life flow. I visualized myself as a vessel allowing ideas, situations, attitudes, and feelings to pour through me and out of me, not penetrate my being. Eventually I noticed I was spending more time with joyful thoughts than with despairing ones. I was on the road to recovery. I was reconnecting with my soul, my spirit, the God within. I give thanks everyday for this process. I Let Go and I Let God.
These experiences were the beginning of a spiritual awakening for me. I am so grateful to have survived my ordeal and I do all that I can to nurture my inner development. I find that what begins on a personal level radiates outward toward global transformation and today I am committed to helping others on their journey toward spiritual growth.