Been a long time

September 8, 2015

I think about the process every day. I don’t know why, it’s just always… there.

 

I try, in vain, to remember the person I was; I try and remember the thought processes and mind-set of the person who existed before July 2008, and even the person who started writing this blog over 7(!) years ago, and I simply have no recollection of who they are. I think I may have said something similar in this blog before.

 

A few members of my group are meeting in two weeks, and thoughts have once again turned to those crazy, insane 8 days all those years ago – and to this blog. (Some of which is just abysmally written, apologies!)

 

So much has happened in 7 years, but I guess that’s to be expected.

 

A member of our group tragically passed away – what an absolutely wonderful, kind soul Lucy was. I didn’t know her that well, but yet I knew her more intimately than most. I hope the process helped her find peace in the world in those last months of her life.

 

Other members of our group moved away. Relationships drifted.

 

Me, I fell in love with someone. I got married. I changed in ways I could never have even imagined. I had a career, I lost a career. I took charge of my life and am now working towards becoming a Counsellor. I grew what is generously considered to be an excellent beard.

 

My (real) father’s wife got in touch over Facebook for some reason, and I had an argument with him by email.

 

I don’t get much of an opportunity to speak about the process anymore, though occasionally I am asked the odd question here and there. Most common, by far (and this includes the many comments I get on this blog, thank you and my sincere apologies for not checking more often) is “X years on, do you still recommend the process?”

 

I was asked this most recently, and my answer is always a resounding “yes”. However, trying to define it for someone who hasn’t experienced it has been a much harder proposition.

 

In the end, I came up with this. I hope it makes sense. Obviously it doesn’t apply to everyone.

 

In life, you learn to walk, and, as you grow and learn and experience, you begin to carry bricks. Some people carry these bricks until there’s so many, you have to carry them on your back. The weight becomes greater, and eventually, you’re no longer walking, you’re just a guy carrying some bricks and struggling to keep moving.

 

What the Hoffman Process did for me, and for a great number of people I have spoken to about it, is take those bricks away, stand me up straight and say “now you can walk again. And if someone gives you some bricks, you’ll know how not to carry them.”

 

I had something else with an Etch-A-Sketch and shaking, but I think I prefer the bricks thing.

 

In more straightforward terms, I credit the Hoffman Process with saving my life. I don’t know where or who I’d be today if I hadn’t have blindly signed up for ‘some course’ all those years ago, but I can guarantee I wouldn’t be where I am now.

 

I’d reached a point in my life where I’d had a realisation that the problems I thought I was managing were actually managing me. And I knew I couldn’t change them single-handedly.

 

I’ve heard the Hoffman Process called a ‘cult’ more times than I can count and all I can say is that in my personal experience, I’ve no idea where the notion even comes from. The process does give you some ‘tools’ to take away with you, but they’re a bit like study notes. They’re not required reading, there’s no test years down the line, and how much you refer to them is totally your call.

 

Ultimately, most people are coming to the process with decades of problems, and the course lasts 8 days. You’d have to be really out of your mind – and not in the way the process aims to help – if you think it’s going to cure you of everything. It’s not. That’s why the tools exist. I haven’t touched my study notes in years.

 

Every so often I come back to this blog and have a browse. In between wincing at quite how self-involved some of it sounds, it’s really interesting to follow my journey to a place where it no longer became the focus of my life.

 

It seems a lot of people come to this blog because they’re doing research on whether or not they should themselves do the process. I can’t answer that question for you but I can tell you just what an extraordinary experience it was for me.

 

I’ll never, ever forget it. Even if I can’t remember it.

 


Masterpiece

February 12, 2012

Two weeks ago, I was called late at night by someone I would call a friend because I’m a generous guy, but who, in reality, was no more than a mere acquaintance; someone known to me by proxy of social circles past, and a brief flirtation with her sister who subsequently moved to Israel – although I am assured the two things are not related.

 

This friend/acquaintance is, very unfortunately, a drug addict and an alcoholic, and lives alone in a designer flat in a designer area, rattling around her empty home while the vacancy of disassociation and unresolved emotive baggage gently creeps up on her until relapse.

 

Apparently, this night was just such a night, and she needed an understanding ear to calm her down, and so I got in my car and spent the best part of five hours talking her off the metaphorical ledge. (My advice, for the record, was to tell those closest to her what was happening and not be afraid to reach out).

 

On the drive home, I began once again thinking about the Process I have exhaustively described in this blog, and how fortunate I have been to experience it.

 

See, my friend – still plagued with emptiness and as I write this currently going through a 5th period of rehab – and I are the very lucky ones. For my part, (while it was largely ineffective and the less preferable option to a hug and gentle encouragement) I was sent to a never-ending roster of private psychologists and psychoanalysts before going off to an exclusive 8 day retreat. For those lucky enough to attend it, rehab ain’t cheap.

 

For a while, I’d been thinking about those people who don’t have the means to ‘deal’ with whatever issues plague them; who (and I’m quoting my parent’s favourite phrase/my most hated) just had to “get on with it”.

 

My father was such a person. He, the youngest of 9 brothers, lived with a violent father, a disassociated mother, and knew nothing more than absenteeism and unreturned love. It should come as a surprise to no-one that his life to a turn to crime, and, later, when life gave him a wife (my mother) and a child (me) his instinct was to run.

 

Run he did, leaving behind an emotional trail that led, ultimately, to this blog.

 

For it was his leaving that was at the epicentre of my need to attend something like The Hoffman Process, and although the process completely re-tuned me, it remains the underpinning on which my entire self exists.

 

Coming out of the process, I was afforded the opportunity to forgive myself, my mother and my step-father, but because I didn’t know who or where he was, I was not given the same opportunity with my father.

 

And then, just when the lessons of the process were beginning to fade to memory and take a sidetrack to life, I was to be given the greatest of gifts.

 

I won’t bore you with the details, but the (very) abridged version is this: my father’s wife friend requested me on Facebook. An apologetic (long) email from my father followed, saying it was done without his knowledge, and that his wife had actually found me some months earlier, but he had pleaded with her to “leave it”, not wanting to cause me any trouble or upset. It’s a twisted logic, but not without its respective merit. He wrote apologising for the past, pleading with me to understand that he was doing what he thought was best for my mother and I, that he couldn’t handle the responsibility of a family, and finally sounding rather pleased that I looked like I was doing ok, presumably because my Facebook picture was me wearing a penguin hat.

 

The following, verbatim, is my response:

 

“Thank you for your heartfelt message; I know it couldn’t have been easy for you to write.

More than anything, I want you to know that I have no anger or feelings or resentment towards you. From the sound of your email, you have carried around a lot of guilt for what happened all those years ago, and I want you to know that I forgive you without reservation. I would want for you to live a happy, full life and I hope knowing this will allow you to alleviate yourself of whatever you have been carrying around with you. I have been fortunate enough to have wonderful, loving parents who have supported me endlessly and without whom I do not know where or who I would be.

The reality is that I will probably never truly have closure over that time in my life; however, I have reached a stage of acceptance and understanding which has allowed me to move on to a point where I no longer need for you to explain anything to me.

I wish you nothing but happiness in your future and I hope you have experienced love and happiness in your life.

David”

 

And that was that.

 

And that’s why the story ends here. There is nothing else to explain.

 

You can be sceptical about the process, people’s issues, and the incredibly underserviced and inexplicably taboo subject of mental health in 2012, but one thing is for sure: I could not have written that email, and meant it, without the experience of the Hoffman Process which inspired me to write this blog. Take from that what you will.

 

EPILOGUE

 

What is written in this blog is very much reflective of my own personal experiences and circumstances and not intended to sway someone’s interest in the process one way or the other. Many have come to The Hoffman Process because of recommendations from friends, family or therapists, and there are many professional texts (Oliver James’ ‘Affluenza’ being of particular note) you may also wish to seek out before diving head-first into what I have written here, and it goes without saying that Hoffman UK founder Tim Laurence’s book “You Can Change Your Life: A Future Different from Your Past with the Hoffman Process” (available through Amazon UK here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Can-Change-Your-Life/dp/0340825235/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329001373&sr=8-1) would be a good starting point.

 

In my experiences since I have completed the process, the only people I have ever come across who have negative things to say about it are those that have not done it. (Including my doctor, who called it a ‘cult’) In this period, I have met what must number in the hundreds of people for whom the process has been, at the very worst, (and I’m quoting) “a great help”. The vast majority have experienced overwhelming, lasting change.

 

As I have said to anyone who cared enough to listen, I have no doubt that the Hoffman Process saved my life. I would not be where I am today, nor would I be the person I am today, without it.

 

I fully intend for this to be my last entry (although I will remain vigilant to any comments or emails I receive) so I hope you will allow me to thank you all for your interaction and feedback in the near three-and-a-half years this blog has been running. It’s really been the hugest of compliments that it’s even been of interest to anyone other than my own egotistical self, let alone the incredible number of readers I have received.

 

If you’re a first-time visitor to the blog looking for information about the Process, I recommend the official Hoffman Process website – http://www.hoffmaninstitute.co.uk/ – and/or attending one of the many Open Evenings if you wish to know more about the process, or if it’s suitable for you.

 

This final (fairly lengthy) entry really marks what I feel is my closure with the Hoffman Process. It will, I have no doubt, always have a place in my heart and mind, but now marks the time for my next adventure.

 

Life.

 


Closure III: Return Of The Red-Eye

August 3, 2009

The question is always the same, be it at a ‘Closure’ or a chance meeting in the street.

‘’What tool do you most use?’’.

If you’re reading this, and we’ve never met but you’ve found this blog because you’ve done a search for ‘Hoffman Process’ (and I know you exist because this thing gives me daily reports of what people search for to get here) I will give you the same answer I gave last night – just one. Closure.

When I first left my process, I clung to what I had learned with all the desperation and panic of someone clinging to the side of an over-turning ship. I had emerged with new-found positivity and awareness, but when 28 years is destroyed and then rebuilt in just 8 days, there is understandable anxiety that you might not be exactly ready to just hit the ground running.

But as time passed, and I had my ups and my downs and as my body began to adjust, I noticed a new pattern emerging. I was clinging on just a little too tight.

I went on my process in July of 2008 because I wanted to start living, and in the beginning part of this year, I began to realise that much as drugs and behavioural patterns and insecurity and anxiety had once made me live and act in a way that was not ‘myself’, the results of my process and my desperation to adhere to the lessons I had learned had meant that I wasn’t learning to live. And that was kind of the point.

I guess it’s like learning to drive. Sure, you learn to drive at 30 with your hands in a certain place, but once you’ve passed and drive unsupervised on that same road, you discover that it’s much better to keep one hand on the wheel while you scratch your nuts and listen to loud music. I will still driving like the instructor was sitting next to me.

And so, I cut myself off. Self-awareness is one of the great tools The Hoffman Process afforded me, and I realised that as I had been reliant on chemical highs in the past, I was now reliant on this one. I took the new me for a test drive.

I let everything go – the tools, the support groups, the meetings and the rest. But I kept just one thing. Closure.

This blog hasn’t been written in for a while, and I am becoming more aware of it as a referential tool, so I will quickly explain what Closure is for the uninformed.

Held on the final night of the process, ‘Closure’ is like a graduation ceremony – a closing of your old life and a welcome into the new. At any Closure ceremony, there are usually past graduates of the process who come back and talk about their experiences and their lives after re-entering the ‘real world’.

And so last night, for the 3rd time, I was a returning graduate, once more entering Florence House a year after first doing so. However, I have always found that the process of re-doing Closure begins long before you enter the room and stick on your name tag.

I began the day with a quick trip to Brighton to see a friend of mine, Steve, who I had actually met on the Closure previous. My impending trip to Florence House had made me understandably reflective and completive of the year just passed, and it was a wonderful gift to be able to exercise a lot of thoughts, something I hadn’t done in a while, before I faced a room of anxious process-ees.  I left Steve to go back to work and took a wander down to Brighton beach, which like most British beaches is just a collection of stones and people in deckchairs, and before I knew it, it was time to make my way to another part of Sussex, a drive which takes you through glorious English countryside.

The English Countryside

As the prospect of Closure and of returning to Florence House (have I mentioned that’s where I did my process yet? I guess that’s kind of important. Readers, I was returning to the scene of my re-birth pretty much, so yeah, important stuff) got closer, my mood became more completive. The drive became silent save for the very polite but stern voice of my satellite navigation, and in little over half an hour, I was once again wandering the beach, this time in Seaford, pondering the year that had passed, and trying in vain to remember the person who was standing in my shoes (not literally, because these were new shoes) little over a year ago.

The truth is, I really can’t remember him. I tried, for comparison purposes only, to recall who I was, just so I could say ‘that was then, this is now’, but as I wandered up and down the entire Seaford beachfront, he just wouldn’t come to me.

Seaford

He’s not lost. He’ll always be a part of me, but more and more, he’s becoming a memory; a hazy recollection of a past which plays an ever decreasing part of my present.

And then, finally, it was time for Closure.

Closure is not about me. I don’t go for me, and I won’t talk about how I felt to be there, nor will I talk about what was said. However, I will say this, and its about why I go every once in a while on a 5 hour round trip to a house in Sussex to talk to a bunch of strangers for a couple of hours about an experience which came from a most personal of places, and continues to be lived in that manner.

Put simply, I owe The Hoffman Process my life. In the year that has passed since I began my process on July 4th 2008 (Independence Day indeed) and as evidenced in this blog which began 8 days afterwards, I have experienced nothing short of absolute and total internal change, and I think the very least I can do is show gratitude for that. So, once every 3 or 4 months, I make a 5 hour round trip drive in near silence to tell 20 or so more people that very fact and maybe, just maybe, give someone a fraction of the help and advice I have been so grateful to receive.

Closed Box.

Florence House Garden


And Then, One Year On

July 1, 2009

To Ben, to Claire, to Dom (not a…), to Jacqui and Jackie, to Lucy and l’il baby kicker, to Mary, to Patti, to the biggest Bronja there ever was, to Constance, to the Davids, to Graeme, to Big John Apache Leader, to Marcus (the bravest man I know), to newly-married Mike, to Todd, to Christopher, to Denise, to Lil, to Marion, to The Fonz, to Zein. To Eliza, to Simon, Mairi and to Gabi. And lastly, I guess, to Bob. This one’s for you… And I miss you all very much.

A lot of people are going to find this blog because they’re either looking for information on/have completed the Hoffman Process, a course I described in my ‘about me’ as an ‘8 day residential self help course’, which I guess sums it up quite nicely; though in the time since I got home on July 12th of last year, I’ve heard it described as everything from a cult to the saviour of mankind and everything inbetween.

Or maybe you know me. Maybe we did our process together. Or maybe you’re a crazed internet stalker woman carving my name in your arm.

Either way, greetings and salutations to you.

I began this blog’s first entry all those days ago by describing it as ‘the sun setting on a glorious first chapter.’ I was wrong. It wasn’t even the introduction.

In the last year or so, whenever I’ve spoken to people about the process, the first question is always the same – ‘is life different?’

So I guess I should tell you.

The process – and I should mention at this point, as a person with a history of chemical dependence, this applies to any sort of change of a significant nature – offers no easy answers, and likewise, this blog entry is not going to be a checklist of what you can and cannot expect to happen in a year of your life post-process. If I can advise only one thing, let it be this: your experiences in this life are your own, and each process experience is unique to that person, no matter how much of it is shared.

I can only offer what has happened to me personally and what I have experienced in the subsequent year. I know some who did their processes or things similar to it, and then haven’t really mentioned it since. I know some who haven’t shut up about it. I probably fall somewhere in the middle, and for someone who used to own a card with ‘Needs To Be Special’ written on it in black marker, that nondescript average position in the middle of the pack suits me just fine.

Anyway, enough babble. (Though there are those that would argue, with significant merit, that removal of babble would render this blog no more than a blank screen)

There is a heart-warming adage attached to the ideals behind the process – that, one person at a time, maybe, just maybe, you actually can save the world. You may need to bear that in mind, especially when you come to realise – and realise it fairly quickly you will – that the world and its inhabitants has continued despite your absence, and are largely unchanged.

I wish I could report nothing more than a hands-across-the-nation style rainbow dance with balloons and special cake that has no calories while not letting you down in the taste department, but sadly, try as you may, life isn’t like that – though you may think it is in those early months.

I remember leaving Florence House (where I did my process) thinking I was ready to take on anything. I was ready to face the world. Much has changed. As I was not the same on July 12th 2008 as I was on July 4th of that same year, I am not the same person now, on July 1st 2009.

In those early months, I was wide-eyed and convinced the world was mine to lose. In reality, I was probably more mental coming out than I was going in.

After living one way for 28 years and then emerging the other side as a process graduate, there is a strange mix of the familiar and the new – and at first, it breeds uncertainty, a little inconsistency, and a strange feeling of being out of place for a bit. And, as a result, you’re a bit up and down.

But you adjust. You let go of pieces you want to let go, you keep that which you want to keep. You live. You experience disappointment as you always did – but it’s the disappointment of the present, and you deal with it in a different way. I am not going to lie and pretend you’re impervious to the likes of depression and anxiety, but they’re your depression and anxiety, authentic experiences owned by you in those present moments, and even the acknowledgement of these facts help alleviate their symptoms.

You grow, and slowly, you fit into your new skin. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve felt really ‘settled’. Things change; you make choices differently. You settle back into life. Distance grows between the days of your process and your present.

You begin to live the rest of your life.

I still owe the process, its teachers and my group-mates my life. I guess if you’re reading this as a prospective process-goer, you might want to make a note of that point.

There was a time when I was a terrified man-child, carrying the weight of a Father who left me 3 times, an emotionally cold mother, and a subconscious view that I was incapable of love or being loved; I blamed myself for the past, the mindset of a 5 year old bleeding into that of someone 23 years his senior.

I carried these things around with me, and allowed them to manifest themselves as products of an adult world – dysfunction, isolation, insecurity and anxiety.

But it’s gone. I can’t explain it. I walked around in a cloud for 28 years, and now, I couldn’t pick that cloud out of a line up. That fog; that weight… it’s not there any more. I think about the person that sat in my bodysuit a year ago today, and I don’t recognise him. That person died on July 5th 2008, the day I began to let the weight of the past go.

And so, one year on – and forgive me if this blog is a little fragmented, I am somewhat out of practice – I will say this in closing:

I thought I was kidding the world. I thought the act I put on and the masks I wore were good enough to protect me from the world and the world from me. I was wrong. I was fighting the wrong fight.

In fact, by doing (as I was) anything in my power to stop myself discovering the real me, I was only punishing myself, and though my contradicting sides of arrogance and insecurity would never have realised this for their own respective reasons, no matter what I was hiding, people didn’t really give a shit.

But now, I am real, and people do appreciate that.

And me… I like me. And to be able to say that makes it all worthwhile.

As always, my love to you all.

Closed Box


Relatively Speaking

December 8, 2008

I tell you what I don’t understand – people that walk up and down escalators. Especially at 7.45am.

Unless you work at the International House of Blow Job Receivership, your job is not that important that you need to RUN there. And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the stairs are already moving. Those things are doing the hard work for you – why on earth do you need to then walk up/down them at the same time? Perhaps they just like the sensation of moving really quickly.

Last night, I got home pretty late – but I couldn’t sleep. After tossing (steady…) and turning until around 1am, I gave up the idea of getting some shut eye, and went downstairs to watch some television – a rarity for me – knowing it would bore me to sleep. At 1am, you have the choice of the following:

• endless shows urging you to ‘win’ dogshit products by texting the answer to such questions as ‘what is the 25th December also known as?’ or ‘what it 2+2?’, at the cost of just £1,000,000 a text for as many texts as they decide to send you for the next 1,000 years.
• Infomercials starring so called ‘fitness experts’, advising you to buy whatever powder, drink or piece of gym equipment they have mortgaged their homes to be able to produce.
• Frasier
• Really bad music videos with Beyonce singing about how independent she is, and what a strong role model she is for all womanhood. Whilst wearing a bikini. Irony alert!
• Porn. Bad porn.

So last night, I’m flicking around the stations, and eventually, I get to the ‘porn’. I’m a fan of porn as much as the next guy, but what I saw ain’t porn. What I saw shocked and disturbed me to my very core.

Essentially, the ‘show’ consisted of what looked like a council-flat single mother (for my American readers, think ‘white trash’) vaguely fondling herself as her gut rolled and flopped all over the place, wearing what must have whatever underwear she could find just before she left the house.

Perhaps more concerning was that as people texted in their comments, our host would pretend to get more and more turned on, and would let out a unintentionally hilarious moan, whilst fondling even more. No one seemed to notice, it seemed, that the fondling was essential, as every occasional time she let go, it became rather evident that her breasts would be somewhere near her knees.

I’m all for giving ugly women a chance in life – we’re all equal and all that – but porn just isn’t for ugly people. It just doesn’t work. However, if you’re absolutely INSISTENT that I need to see an ugly person whilst watching porn, homegirl needs to be able to do some spectacular shit, like blowing me whilst doing a handstand, or making sparks fly out her ass or something. But ugly fat women porn? Just say no, folks. I know I did.

‘Cathy’s attempted seduction of me aside (and my subsequent vomiting in my own mouth a little) this weekend was most notable for a return to some very, very unwelcome pre-process shit. Anxiety. I got lots of it.

The truth is that I have a great deal on my plate at the moment, and though I am dealing with it in a far better way than I ever have before, I am still prone to anxiety, and this weekend, I think I finally felt the results of the week just passed.

Once upon a time, when I didn’t recognise that I was carrying all my anxiety and stress in my chest, I was convinced that I was continually suffering from a series of mild heart attacks. Seriously. I was occasionally get searing pains in my chest, that would completely disable me, causing my enormous pain, like someone was poking me with a spear in my chest. It got so bad that a doctor made me wear a heart monitor for a couple of days, just to check my hear t rate.

It turned out not to be my heart, and I eventually wrote it off in my head as just a ‘thing’ I’d have to live with, and, every so often, I’d keel over in pain, short of breath and clutching my chest, convinced it was all psychosomatic. Later, during my process, I learned all about where I carried all my stress, and the whole thing made a bit more sense.

Last week, I was seriously stressed about my exams, which fed rather nicely into the exacerbation of anything else that was even mildly getting to me. I was beating myself up nice and good for not doing any revision, still not revising anyway, and thus creating a nice little vicious circle for myself. I eventually got my shit together, but, evidently, the damage had been done. This Saturday, my old friend chest pains came back. Fucked my shit right up.

That aside, I learned something very important. And that is that everyone has a story, and that pain and emotional heartbreak, no matter how small or great in relative terms, always has a significant impact on the lives of those who live it.

Though my story may be more fraught than yours, and you may know someone with a far worse life than mine, empathy is the greatest gift you can give or receive. This weekend, I listened to someone open up to me, and later, I did the same. And it was beautiful.

I hope you find beauty in your days today.

All my love,
Closed Box