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Pain by Michelle Brea on flickr 

“What is truer than truth? Answer: The story.”

Old Jewish Saying and repeated by Isabelle Allende in her TED talk.

 

There is a lot of my life from 18 to 20 years of age that I just don’t remember.  Most of it in fact.  In retrospect and following therapeutic training I know that to be a form of trauma related repression.  I just hit overload and shut down.  I remained on autopilot for two very self-destructive years during which my rampant PTSD symptomotology took a front seat and my conscious self was somewhere locked in the trunk. 

 

I built a shell around myself so I could block out anything hurtful or scary at a moment’s notice by shutting down, but in truth the shell was a mirage of my own making–because instead of feeling nothing I felt everything–I was so sensitive I was raw.  I shut down constantly and in that I lost a lot of my current day perception of what happened when and many details are lost altogether. 

 

I would block out and black out (technically known as dissociation) and not really be sure what happened after: it was like watching a blurry movie of myself from a short distance–sound was dulled, images were faded, it was often like living a half life.  It helped me survive but not live.  I was nothing but shell with nerves exposed underneath. 

 

I was raped for the first time somewhere between 18 and 19 (again time is not so clear during that period).  The second time, by another perpetrator, was somewhere between 19 and 20.  I no longer blame myself for the second rape, but I know professionally that my downward slide following the first incident made me more vulnerable to another assault and my autopilot living added to that vulnerability.  Following the second assault I could no longer regulate any part of myself: I was up and then down, I was isolative and then explosive, I was spiraling and dizzy and petrified of the world. 

 

Escape, escape, escape.  That was all I did.  Long before I fled New Jersey I had fled myself–the Teresa from before my assaults was somewhere deep inside and the shell grew so thick and heavy that I could no longer remember what came before it.  I was hiding inside myself and from myself.  I was locking my memories so far down that I choked on them. 

 

My trauma clients often reference the visual of a “box” or a “closet” where everything painful and traumatic is crammed in and locked away and when it accidentally opens you push it back in with all the strength you have–that is definitely an apt description. 

 

When you are stuck inside your trauma all that seeps out is your traumatized symptoms and all the unhealthy and unpleasant behaviors that follow, all you can see is survival.  You want to make it to tomorrow without snapping and that is the only goal.  You cannot live.  You cannot love.  You cannot think about moving forward.  You are locked in the “box” you created living under the illusion that you have somehow contained the collateral damage. 

 

From 18 to 20 I was in the thick of it all.  When I moved to Colorado at twenty I thought I was making a big step and a change that would change my brain and free my body.  The only thing that really changed was scenery. 

 

I loved the mountains that rose as if heaven bound.  I loved the clear, crisp air and views of horses running wildly in fields, but inside my mind–when I paused too long or closed my eyes–there I was, still in my box, still petrified, still clinging to my shell. 

 

I woke one day. 

 

I woke in a loud clap of thunder and a moment full of sound and fury and everything I had been avoiding.  I was sitting in a class on Front Range Community College Campus in Fort Collins.  I had decided to go back to school and finish up that bachelors degree I had abandoned during the period of my first rape—part of me thought, since nothing else had worked, if I could just pick up where I left off I could erase the past that had taken me so far from anything resembling a future.  I was sitting in some Sex Ed type class and tapping out my boredom with my pen.  It was one of those banal required courses in the degree curriculum and my anticipation was learning something akin to high school health class.  Then it happened.   

 

The teacher began discussing sexual assault and sex crime “victims” (can I mention I still hate the word victim and all the implied vulnerability and helplessness it imbued in it).  He spoke about acquaintance rape and the incidence of sexual assaults in college aged women. 

 

After that I don’t know what he said because all I knew was that I felt dizzy and nauseous and my extremities went numb.  I couldn’t breathe.  It was only by the time I reached the bathroom, leaning over the toilet bowl with my knees on the floor and my hands shaking and pale, that I realized I had, had a panic attack. 

 

That was the moment I woke up. 

I realized this trauma thing I had tried to avoid was real.  The rape was real.  My state of frozen-in-symptoms-rampant-PTSD was real (although I could not identify it diagnostically at the time I knew it was trauma).   And most of all I realized with a great oomph of panic attack finality that I could not avoid any of this thing inside of me anymore—not even in a benign antiseptic classroom environment.  I realized I didn’t want to spend my life wondering when I would have to fall onto a bathroom floor again.  So I went home that day, looked up a Sex Trauma Therapist, and, still somewhat skeptical and grudgingly, I went to the appointment. 

 

The night after my first session with that therapist I had the worst nightmare I have ever had.  

 

It is for that reason that even before I knew much about the therapeutic process, early in my graduate school internships, I would forewarn my trauma clients about a potential “outbreak” of sorts in their PTSD following their first session.  Opening the box held tight and controlled for so long can create a sort of allergic initial response.  Your mind is a clever thing that often has a mind of its own when it comes to trauma—it has been protecting you for so long from your own memories and emotions it becomes startled by an opening up of all that was hidden.  Before I knew enough as the trauma therapist, the trauma survivor in me knew to warn my clients of this occurrence.  Since then, the trauma therapist in me learned and now understands the many onion-like layers of “why”.  

 

I woke from my nightmare shaking with the vision of a shadowy figure moving in front of me through my bedroom.

 

All I could feel was the moment following my first rape.  I was lying in the wet grass on the earthen floor of a park in New Jersey, afraid to breathe.  I was nauseous and numb and my hair was wet with dew.  My insides were shaking but my body was frozen and my fists were clenched.  I could hear the frogs and the crickets and see the dirt path that led out but I couldn’t get there.  I could smell his breath and see his smirk and hear his mocking voice saying words I’ll never forget, “You’re not going to tell people I raped you or something, right?”

 

I closed and opened my eyes and I was back in my apartment, in Colorado, 4 years after that night in the grass.  Tears were on my cheeks and sweat was covering my body.  I began to tremble and cry as if I were purging all the memories of those nights I had held from my conscious memory for so long.  My eyes adjusted to the dark and the shadow faded from view.  I steadied myself against the large oak posts of my bed. 

 

I jolted up, turned all the lights on in my apartment, and spent the rest of that night on my bathroom floor. 

 

I knew something cataclysmic had occurred.  I felt like these ghosts that had been following me had to be exorcised out of my mind and out of my internal closet before I could start fresh.  Something about the palpable nature of that nightmare made me believe that was the door to my locked closet swinging open and something new opening up inside of me–something alive.   

 

 Ego is not a dirty word by Michelle Brea on flickr

 

I have had nightmares since that night, but never one like that again.  I have never had to sleep on the bathroom floor or see shadows that weren’t there hovering over my bed.  I never went back to that park distilled in my mind or had to find myself lying in the grass without warning. 

 

I never had to go back to that park, until I wanted to, and then I did. 

 

I was in graduate school when I went back.  I had come so far and I felt so unburdened from so much of my traumatic past.  My life was no longer governed by rampant symptoms, but rather by the course of my chosen path: A life path that had taken me through an undergraduate degree in English with a Minor in Women’s Studies.  I had explored all my man-rage via feminist courses, empowered myself in my womanhood, and come out a very healthful, non-raging feminist at the end. 

 

I had written out my story, written both my stories actually, and realized after I finished that much of the details didn’t matter.  I realized that I was the story—the testament to my own survival and I didn’t have to write every painful minute of rape I could recall to prove that to myself.

 

I had found my way into graduate school for a Masters in Clinical Social Work.  I fully immersed in the coursework and quickly found my focus and passion—traumatology and trauma therapy. 

 

I had found a way to master my pain and give my experience a meaningful purpose.  I had found that my empathy and understanding of trauma as a survivor, without all my own symptoms to bleed all over myself and others, brought me to a place of usefulness in the field.  I understood trauma from the inside, from the belly of the beast. 

 

This combined with my intellectual and academic capacity to absorb all the psychology, biology, and behavioral aspects of the disorder made me both trained and intuitive, simultaneously, when it came to working with traumatized persons.  I was passionate about the work and I knew it was going to form my life’s professional pursuits.

 

I had begun to live.  I had begun to love life.  But I had not yet begun to love anyone else, at least not a man.  And every time I was in South Orange, New Jersey I always drove every way I could to avoid going past that park.  The park where so many things began and so many more things ended. 

 

And I had one of those moments of epiphany where I knew I had to go back.  I didn’t want to remain afraid of anything—not even one solitary park in a small town in New Jersey. 

 

Of all the things that had gone from my memory in a blaze of anguish, like what time of year it was when the assault happened—was it Spring or was it Fall?  Or what year was it—was I 18 or 19 when it happened?–I remembered the park. 

 

I remember how he parked his car on the slight slope on the side of the hill.  I remember walking on the dirt trail that wove through the brush into the open field.  I remember the tall grasses tickling my ankles and the sounds of night turning into early morning. 

 

So I went back. 

 

I walked down the dirt path and felt the grass on my legs.  I walked into the clearing to see not a dark early dawn, but a bright sunny afternoon.  The sun hit my face and grass tickled between my sandals.  I walked into the field to approximately the spot where he had put his blanket down for us to sit on. 

 

I sat in the grass and then I lay down.  I looked up into the sun and heard the sound of cars pulling up.  I heard a child and her mother laughing.  I smiled and I breathed in the grass scented air.  My hands touched the earthen floor and I felt the soft tickle of wildflowers under my fingertips.  I made a fist and pulled a few up from the soil.  I pulled them to my nose and breathed in and then breathed in deeper.  The air and scent of flowers filled my lungs and I smiled.  I could breathe again.  In that grass where I lost my breath years before, I could breathe again. 

 

I may not have returned to who I was before that night, we are always changed by our experiences, but I found something there in the grass that I had lost.  A piece of softness and bliss that I thought I could never retrieve. 

 

I felt a freedom in my own breath as I let go of one last strand of that petrified fear—I opened the box and let it all go.  I let the park go and I walked out the way I came—into the sunlight and into my future. 

  

(Below) Photo of me as a child, breathing in the scent of park grasses and enjoying the bliss of wildflowers.

distilled

 

Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.

 
Helen Keller

 

 

   

 

Moon Silhoutted Trees Mosaic by ctd 2005 on flickr 

        African proverb: “The ax forgets, the tree remembers.”

        Maya Angelou, Even the Stars Look Lonesome, 1997

 

 

When I left home for Fort Collins, Colorado at twenty I was running away.  Running away from my trauma, my memories of places, memories of the faces that had become blurred, and the history of a life that (at the time) I didn’t want to remember or own.  So, I went half way across the nation hoping for geographical healing and what I confronted was everything I left behind.  First, subconsciously, through painful mistakes, symptomatic responses in overdrive, and a very unhealthy and volatile relationship.  Then, intentionally, when two and a half years into my “new life” and many falls downward I realized that my demons, my ghosts, and my life didn’t disappear just because I did. 

 

I remember sitting in my first trauma therapist’s office and her making me do what I now know to be “The Empty Chair” Technique from Gestalt therapy and just crying all the tears I had been holding in for the person I was before my trauma, for the person I had become after it, and for all of the unnecessary years of guilt and shame I had bestowed on myself.  It was a first step on a very long journey that continued to include falling down, but at least it didn’t involve any more running away. 

 

Six months after the afternoon in that office I moved back to New Jersey—to confront myself and my memories in the place from whence they came.  I realized once I stopped hiding inside myself I no longer had to hide externally. 

 

On the brink of my move to Florida (just a few months ago) I wanted to make sure for myself that this was a move forward not a fleeing situation.  I find myself very attentive to my own self assessment—making sure I am making conscious decisions for viable reasons so as never to fall back into the trunk of my own car on the road of my own life again.  Most of me knows this will never happen, but the intellectual part of me just wants to think it through anyway.  I realized that in coming back to my hometown and confronting the faces and places that had haunted my mind I had been made free to find my home again.  Not home as a place on a map but as a space in my heart. 

 

I found home in my family, my friends, the new memories I created, and those I could let go of by confronting them.  I found home, most recently and most poignantly, in marrying my husband:  marriage being something I never thought I would do—some for feminist precepts that I held to tightly, but ultimately deep down I think I had cultivated a pervasive fear of trusting someone that implicitly with me—mind, heart, soul, and body

 

I found home in this past year in the most intimate way I could—In a family of my own, in love that gives all and allows the heart to receive all, and in learning in another that I could completely trust myself.

 

I realized in assessing my Florida move motivations that this physical move was essentially just shifting to another point on a map; the real move was a move forward to a life with my family of two plus (now) THREE dogs and an embracing of whatever is to come without fear. 

 

Trauma is like falling to the bottom of the deepest ravine or being pushed off a cliff’s edge into a frigidly cold ocean.  It is the hardest thing to climb out of and it takes all the strength you may have and often then a bit more than that.  You create new strength and new muscles you never had before in the process and it leaves you with a new sense of fearlessness.  Once you have seen the bottom of the coldest ocean and fallen from the highest peak the rest of life’s problems pale in comparison. 

 

Do you have weak points?  There are moments.  No one is impervious to life or feelings or memories.  There are moments when I wake up with a startle or I jump when someone comes up from behind or get a chill when I see a man leering at me, but they are identified and moved beyond—they are not paralyzing and immobilizing like they once were. 

 

 I don’t see shadows in my room every time I open my eyes or sleep with the lights on or numb out, block out, or space out to avoid the pain.  I do not fear life, fear love, fear touch anymore.  I do not hyperventilate and shake from some unknown triggered memory.  I do not hate my body (most days J).  I do not categorically hate men.  I do not wait for the day when the other shoe will drop or anticipate my world falling out from under me. 

 

I can move and move on without carting all that past pain around with me.  I can talk about healing from my own perspective as well as from my “therapist” chair.  I can, when hard days come (quoting, randomly,“Sex and the City”):  “Breathe and reboot.”  I can find my center, find my quiet mind, find my yogic self that can take life in.  I can let the past go enough so that I can keep breathing, breathing deeper, and breathing in this new life, new move, new dog, and whatever else is next. 

 

I will never run away again.  And I will keep remembering to run without fear into my future.

 

 

An Arabian Dream by TAYSER on flickr

          Experience is not what happens to you;
          it’s what you do with what happens to you.

            Adlous Huxley

 

* MY STORY to be continued tomorrow with the post “Full of Sound and Fury: A Survivor’s Tale”. *

 

Eat Heavy by drp on flickrEat Heavy by drp on flickr

 

I am from New Jersey.  This is a givenl but it is a much more invasive condition than might initially be assumed.  It is chronic, it is systemic, and it is very hard to cure.  This is not genetic, it is environmentally caused and did I mention it is very hard to cure…it may be medication resistant. 

 

When I moved to Colorado, after three years out of the environmental contaminant, I was nearly cured but I moved back to the affected locale  before any chance for a cure was made permanent and the condition resurfaced quickly–followed by a brief severe allergic reaction at being exposed to the hazardous materials again (no, not the garbage, the temperament). 

 

Seriously, I got hives.  They said it was a “sudden allergy to penicillin” but I am certain that Jersey was the root cause. 

 

I am now in Florida, the Sunshine State and although by their nicknames–as NJ is the Garden State–they might seem like close cousins they are in fact…not.  I had a store clerk the other day tell me, “Welcome to Heaven.”  I cannot recall similar conversational kindness in the Garden State–unless of course there were manslaughter in the mix and sarcasm on the tongue. 

 

I am having to recalibrate my response to the world at large in a huge way.  It is taking a lot of concerted effort and a lot of environmental medicinal treatment.  The more smiles I get, the more at ease I am with facing the world with smiles.  The more cordial conversations I have begun with me without alterior, sinister motives or hands in my pockets searching for my wallet, the more trusting I am of the endeavor of cordial conversations.  I am having to relearn the finer points of being human, sad as that is. 

 

I realize that although I knew the therapy room was a place of safety and a haven for my clients in New Jersey, a place they could open up and be themselves without fear of aggressive reprisals, I had not realized that it had been one of my sole bastions for the same.  My clients were open and emotionally vulnerable in their sessions and it was a refreshing alternative to all of the evasive, suspicious, aggressive bombardment that the outside war zone that was the metropolitan area had to offer. 

 

Many will argue that I am being dramatic.  Those from the area–native carriers of the illness of Jersey-itis–of course will adamantly disagree…it is, unfortunately, part of the affliction.  Anyone not from the Metro area who has come from infection-free zones will probably agree, between panicked breaths into a brown paper bag.  

 

I remember feeling in a constant state of panic and a constant sense of being accosted during the months following my transition back into the Garden State from Colorado.  I remember moments of near tears on the Garden State Parkway wondering where my life had taken me and why so many people were so angry at the same time–usually either 8am or 5pm. 

 

Now, all this said, I love New Jersey and the metro area–it is a sincere love/hate relationship.  I am tied to my sickness but I know I would be healthier without it. 

 

I love:

 –All night diners (yes, this goes at the top of the list).

–Every kind of food from anywhere in the world cooked excellently.

–An eclectic collection of everyone from around the world all in one place.

–Every kind of museum, art gallery, Broadway show, and pretty much anything else you can imagine, including that kitschy Naked Cowboy in Times Square all about 15 minutes away. (Addendum: everything is about 2-10 miles away that you could ever desire but traffic and subways and everything else that makes it so congested so that 2 miles on a map will take you 30-50 minutes at least)

–My family and friends.

–Alot of memories.

 

But at this point in my life and my health (mental and physical) it felt necessary to exit the infection zone before my condition became permanent. 

 

So, slowly, very slowly, I am learning things like kindness and patience and looking at skylines for abnormally long periods of time.  I am working on appreciation and accepting the kindness of others, and learning the social protocols for reciprocation.  It is a slow learning curve, as I recall from Colorado, but very much worth the effort.  I look forward to following my condition until full remission is achieved.  I am optimistic about the outcome.

 

Namaste (“The light in me honors the light in you”). 

 

May I be the very best Floridian, very best yogini, very best human that Florida and my inner better self allows me to be.  I will update my status when I am fully infection free.  I cannot “fix” the nature or course of my medical conditions, a fact I struggle with every day, but if I can remedy a locationally induced mental affliction then that is a pretty good start…or so I figure.

 

** Evidence in this satiric diagnosis may have been slightly exaggerated for effect.**

  

  

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Mark Twain

Eros by drp on flickrEros by drp on flickr

 

…Just as soon as you decide to try something new, you begin to see all of the things you liked about it to begin with. 

 

I remember when I moved away from Fort Collins, Colorado in 2003 everything was more beautiful every day I got closer to leaving.  The sky was an ever-increasing vibrant royal blue and the rockies jutted up out of the fields of golden grass higher than ever and with a regal importance.  I couldn’t imagine why I had ever wanted to leave it behind; but in the end I left nonetheless. 

 

As I say goodbye to New Jersey, one day at a time, I keep finding nuggets of beauty I had forgotten were there.  I notice the kindnesses I had ignored amid the sea of chaos, pollution-muddied skies, and aggressiveness.  I  smiled with appreciation the other evening when a lady held the door for me, grinning, and making eye contact without a semblance of haried roughness. 

 

In the last week or so it seems like the roads don’t seem quite as crowded or angry, the landscape has suddenly revealed pockets of grassy loveliness in places I had never noticed, and the 3 month rainy season that was our summer finally departed leaving sunny days and warmth in its stead. 

 

And–like the haircut I just had to change and then realize I love an hour before my salon appointment–I find myself ambivilent over leaving my homestate. 

 

But, like a haircut that can grow back, I know I can always return and there is a comfort in that–New Jersey’s constancy and predictability. 

 

Erich Fromm, the renound social psychologist, said this [of new adventures]:

Let your mind start ajourney thru a strange new world.  Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before.  Let your soul take you where you long to be…Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar, and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.

 

Every experience, every journey, every state of being, state of mind, and state of the nation has its own uniqueness.  To explore the new, to some extent, we have to let go of the old.  As I stand in limbo between two worlds I find myself torn.  Hanging on, nostalgically, to the last morsels of “old”, not yet ready to embrace “new”.  I am contemplating the necessary freefall, but I am not ready to let go of the cliff’s edge from which I dangle.

 

Fromm’s words above strike me as very meditative, very spiritual.  The more internal “work” that yoga asks of us is to be able to be in the moment, with our body, with our souls and just be; not ask questions or think about yesterday or tomorrow and just exist in the present.  That is what Fromm illustrates poetically above: just be where you are and live in that experience, letting go of whatever came before the now. 

 

This is an essential piece of meditative practice and the yogic mindset that I grapple with.  I have trouble letting go.  Whether it is worry about the future or dwelling on the past, I have trouble being present-centered.  I need to work towards a “present-centered life” and letting go of New Jersey is part of that process. 

 

And in that effort I am sincerely considering a new haircut.  Seriously.  I am thinking of taking it all off.  Starting from scalp and working my way back from there to hair.  We’ll see.

I am breaking up with New Jersey and it is really hard to do.

  I am sorry New Jersey, I know this is going to be hard for you but it is harder for me…I swear.  It’s not you, you did nothing wrong (besides that funky smell by the landfills, the angry traffic-mongers, and the general grumpiness and crowdedness).  Really, it’s me, not you.  I just have to go.  Please, don’t say a word…I know, I know.  We will both be better off in the long run.  We will grow and learn and be better for it.  Shhh, don’t speak…let’s just leave the rest unsaid.

So, as I begin to pack up the last of the boxes and having the final dinners and night’s out with friends and family it is beginning to really sink in: I am leaving New Jersey, I am leaving this life behind, I am beginning yoga school (soon), I am starting a new job (even though it is a transfer), I am starting over.  Now of course these are all things I knew in some conscious/unconscious way the last month or so but the entire decision to execution of this move has only been since July 4th weekend and so everything since then has been sort of a blur of “to-do’s” and denial. 

I am desperately excited and invigorated by this new start; my husband and I beginning our own adventures and experiences that are those of this new family unit of two (+ 2 dogs) we have created.  At the same time I am nostalgic and melancholy over the life I am leaving behind.  It was a perfectly good life: one full of friends, coworkers, a career that I loved, and work I was passionate for. 

I have never left something behind before when it was good, there is a risk and a gamble I suppose in doing so but it also feels like the timing is right.  Like that moment in a movie or a book where you know an exit is necessary even if you are not exactly sure why. 

As I have told my clients before, “We are all the authors of our own lives,” and so I guess this is a chapter I have begun without much of an inkling of how it will wrap itself up.  That would probably be considered poor form and bad storytelling as a novel writer but as I am working within the genre of creative non-fiction I guess I have the leeway to let life become whatever it is meant to be and not try to carve some clever plot point into it. 

Yesterday I attended an event for combat soldiers at a local memorial monument (current and past–although if you ask a soldier I guess there is no past when it comes to being a soldier of war).  A young Iraq veteran in fatigues stood up and thanked those men who came before him for their service and paving the way for him.  I felt myself, standing in the front of the crowd no less, beginning to well up with tears.  I surprised myself, as public displays of emotion are not really my style. 

I think I am kind of raw right now.  Full of my own nostalgia to such a point that I am ready to burst at every evocative thing I find.  Every last session with a client becomes harder to bear, every time I walk into work I think how it is closer to the last time. 

Interestingly enough I am not too worried about leaving friends and family as I am my work.  I know that those people who have been in my life personally and with whom I have deep personal relationships with will sustain: My family will visit and my friends will facebook (ha) but my work is so integral to every day, every moment, every trauma-oriented passion I have…and I only hope I can distill and translate some of what I have done here to somewhere else. 

In those hopes I continue to prepare for yoga school like a nervous child preparing for kindergarten.  Which is how I feel: not sure what to expect, not knowing how I will do, and petrified about headstands–well ok, the last one is not exactly like kindergarten.

My plan is to go home and begin, yes begin because I have yet to start it, my first assigned reading book: The Food Revolution by John Robbins

I feel like a delinquent already. 

 

 

This blog is meant to explore and expound on my somewhat daunting adventure of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).  I am currently a psychotherapist working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  I came upon this personal experiment in stamina, flexibility, and emotional strength through my work in my primary career and my passion; work with acutely traumatized persons. 

I found early on in my work that although “talk therapy” provided the initial breath of relief at expelling my clients’ demons into the air of the therapy room that the effectiveness of this method in isolation soon deflated and was not enough to sustain continued growth and healing.  I began to explore in earnest other methods that might bring another dimension into treatment of people that have experienced and survived trauma.

In my professional quest for the right answers to the issue of healing I began to search through my personal catalog of things that I had always found rejuvinating, soothing, and pacifying: my dogs, a long massage, a good movie, writing and reading in equal measure, meditation, and yoga.  I’d hate to say that I had an “aha!” moment because the phrase is a bit to kitchy for me too utter but I definitely had an epiphany of sorts.  I realized that I was holding back my capacity to help by limiting myself to what I had been taught through conventional methods was the only means to therapy and treatment of my clients.  I decided to explore further and put some of my ideas to action.  What could it hurt, I thought. 

Through the course of the last year I have been able to impliment programs for my clients to include a group combining writing, reading, and film as a means of processing trauma, I began two yoga groups led by Yoga Teachers, created events and outings around all the creative programming and the response has been phenominal.  I even began researching a potential equine-assisted therapy program.  Everything I have learned and absorbed has added a multidimensional element to my study and practice of psychotherapy and social work. 

All that said I still find that what I want to know and apply, actively being participatory in both the mind and body work that my clients do, is just out of my reach.  I lack the technical and applied knowledge to bridge the gap between these two worlds: this bridge is my necessary next step in being the most adept I can to help those I encounter professionally and an experience I believe will be more difficult and profound than most before it.

Beginning on October 18th, 2009 and ending on December 13, 2009 I will be enrolling myself in an intensive two month teacher training program.  In between that time and the present I will be relocating from New Jersey to Florida with two dogs, two cars, a husband and a Uhaul (a modern day country song wagon train), beginning a new job within my same field, and trying to intensify my yoga practice to match my upcoming routine.  The program I am entering is intensive but also part time, meaning that I will be working full time as well as spending essentially the remainder of my free hours in meditation, yoga practice, and intensive educational seminars beginning before work at 6:oo am and concluding after work as late as 10:00pm.  All this is to be combined with a strict diet and lifestyle regimen of vegetarianism and abstinence from alcohol, music, television, and essentially anything not beneficial to the training experience.  It is meant to mimic as strictly as possible, within the confines of a 9-5 life, the “ashram-type” learning environment that was the traditional method of teaching yoga to students. 

I am excited, intimidated, and ready for the challenge….I necessarily must be.  And cataloging and relaying this experience to begin now and continue through the end of this year of 2009 is my self-regulatory way of keeping myself “in the game” as it were.  And hopefully creating some interesting writing on this exploratory adventure in the process. 

The preliminary entries in this blog, leading up to the actual training, will be ponderings on the study, notes on the mayhem of relocation and life alterations in multiple , and just a little bit of me before the intensity of the teacher training begins.  Welcome to my experience…I hope you find some nuggets of interest in my writing and along this journey. 

 Adventures and misadventures to follow.

January 2020
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