Archive for July, 2009

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.

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