Posts Tagged ‘Closure’

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

Dunkin’ Do Not

December 2, 2008

Welcome, welcome, one and all, and welcome to ‘Back and to the Future’, the blog that kept voting Ruth, if only to see her epic boobs on X-Factor every Saturday night. RIP my gargantuan-chested Spanish senorita.

 

Readers, it is said that you learn new things every day. This, of course, is bullshit. If you’re anything like me, there are occasional days when you’re up for no particular reason (porn reading the bible) until the early hours, and the following day, you’re just happy to stay awake, and couldn’t really give a fuck about learning new shit. Anyway, I digress.

 

This weekend, I learnt something new about sex. Which is an interesting one for me, because I was at least fairly certain I had a pretty good grasp of the subject as it was. But no, there is new shit even I didn’t know about.

 

Apparently, nearly drowning is a turn on. NEARLY. FUCKING. DROWNING. I have a friend, a friend we’ll call Julie, and this weekend, I’m talking to Julie and Julie proceeds to tell me she’s fucked up. ‘Oh’ says I, interested, as being fucked up appeals to my love of the macabre ‘what’s up?’ So Julie begins to tell me about her fetish. When in the bath, Julie likes to have her head repeatedly dunked under water as she is bent over on all fours in the water. The faster things go, the faster the head dunking goes, making her shorter and shorter of breath, until she feels as though she is drowning. This, apparently, makes her orgasm. Just makes me think that someone’s going to have to clean up a very messy bathroom. But that’s because I’m an OCD freakazoid.

 

Either way, I don’t get that one at all, but have moved Julie off my ‘never say never’ list, and on to my ‘colour me intrigued’ one.

 

Aside from seeing Kevin Smith’s ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’ (short review: pretty funny, too much male nudity, ending tacked on, Elizabeth Banks = goddess) the weekend was a mixture of attempting to revise, and lots of saying to myself ‘hey, shouldn’t I be revising?’ I expect this to continue for the next 2 weeks as I work my way through to my end of year exams.

 

Monday, however, was one of the more positive days I have had in a long, long time – and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in-between telling people to fuck off, making jokes about Jews and general self-depreciation, I’m a pretty positive guy to start with.

 

As is generally the case when I’m wearing my Ramones t-shirt, (and yes, I like the band – I didn’t just buy into some fashion fad in 2002) I was in a pretty good mood anyway. And then I get a call from a recruitment company out of nowhere, telling me they want me to interview for a job – sweet! And then, I got an email:

 

I understand you would be interested in sharing your experience of the Process with the media. 

 

I would like to put together a profile of you – either by interviewing you over the phone, or by you providing a few paragraphs on email.

 

A journalist will then want to interview you over the phone – it will take no longer than 15 minutes. It would be great if you could provide me with a few details so I can start drafting your ‘blurb’: age, where you live, a few lines about why you decided to try The Hoffman Process, how your life has changed since you took the Process 

 

Please can you also email me a recent picture of yourself to send to the media, alongside your profile? If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Best wishes,

 

And my never-ending diatribes in this blog will attest, I am rarely short of words, so I’m rather looking forward to sharing my experiences – honestly, and with no agenda or personal vendetta to ‘push’. Should go nicely with my attending ‘Closure’ for a second time on January 15th. (Did anyone else get this?)

 

And I think that will do for today. There’s more to talk about, but frankly, I can’t be fucked.

 

Love to you all,

Closed Box

Pre-Ordained. (The Day of Atonement)

October 8, 2008

My apologies for the lack of entry yesterday, readers. The reasons for this will become clear.

 

I have met someone. Whether or not my intentions are romantic or not – though there are certainly elements of that – remain to be seen. But I genuinely believe I was meant to meet this person.

 

If you’d have asked me four months ago if I was a believer in fate, I would have given you a resolute ‘no’ answer. Still, today, I am somewhat ambiguous on the idea, but I do feel that certain things in my life were meant to happen.

 

I was supposed to have a life journey that has taken me to so many ups and downs. (And even the occasional sideways) I was supposed to have a journey of self-discovery, so that the good qualities I possess could shine their brightest. I was supposed to meet my old therapist. I was supposed to be cleansed in the way I was.

 

And, somehow, I was supposed to meet DR. It’s not a love at first sight or anything like that, in fact, our emerging ‘relationship’ is on a very new and previously unexplored terrain – total, naked honesty. Within moments of meeting DR, I felt like she was an old friend, and, in the last two nights, I have not been to bed before 1.30am such is the lengths of our conversations.

 

In telling DR about my Hoffman Process, and the journey I have undertaken, I have opened the floodgates the beginnings of her own journey; a tale much like those I know all too well. Having spoken to her – and, I stress, being very conscious of appearing to be a salesperson or PR spokesman for the course, which I most certainly do not want to be – she is now aware of the process, and has a desire to explore further.

 

I feel… humbled. Emotional. Tired. I feel a great weight of responsibility – like I have created an opening, a sign of hope, and having been asked to attend the November 4th open day in Regent’s Park College with her, that I have been asked to guide her and hold her hand through a stage of the process I never experienced – those delicate, terrifying moments when you start to realise you are not alone, and you take baby steps towards the beginnings of owning your own true, authentic self.

 

I left the process with an urge to give back – initially, I begged the Hoffman office to let me set up a bursary fund for people that could not afford to do what I had just done. Then, I toyed with the idea of becoming a Hoffman teacher. I went to Closure – partly for me, but mostly because I wanted to provide relief for anyone sitting in a room, terrified of the future, and returning to the real world.

 

This quality I discovered after years of introspection and selfishness, and the subsequent total turnaround I experienced. I discovered in myself a self-replenishing desire to give back to people, and, as people who read this blog with any sort of regularity will know, I am now studying with the aim of becoming a counsellor.

 

Perhaps, after such little sleep and so much talking over the last two days, I have lost the ability to truly explain myself. But I feel as though I have given someone the gift of life, and uncovered a little bit more light in myself.

 

Tomorrow is the Jewish Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – a day when Jews across the world gather in homes and synagogues to think and reflect on the bad things they have done in the year previous, and ask for forgiveness.

 

For the first time in my life, I feel like partaking.  I will not be in a synagogue, nor will I be fasting for the day (you’re supposed to) but I will be certainly taking moments of internal reflection to think about the events of my last year – where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. Jews, through prayer, will be asking for forgiveness and to be resolved of their sins. I will be forgiving myself; not all day, but if you look really hard, at some point in the day, you might find me in the corner with my eyes closed, taking a good look at myself.

 

I expect I’ll be smiling.

 

Until Friday, readers, I leave you with my wishes for a wonderful two days. Though you yourselves may not be Jewish, the gift of self-forgiveness is a truly wonderful one, and I encourage you to occasionally give yourself a break from the blame we all lay upon ourselves sometimes. We are just human beings, acting in human ways.

 

My love to you all,

Closed Box

Closure

September 19, 2008
 

(Sorry for the quality of the images – they were taken with my phone)

 

  

Good Morning Readers… *yawn* thud*

 

Yeah, I’m pretty tired today.

 

Yesterday, we set a new record for visitors to this blog, so thank you all for stopping by, especially Tonje, my new Norwegian reader. Takk deg for lessened, Tonje! (I hope that was right, my Norwegian isn’t as good as your English…

 

I guess I was nervous; it just took a while to recognise it.

 

I raced from the office at 12, arriving back at my house at 1, showering, shaving, and attempting to get dressed. I’ll admit, for the sake of being honest, that I was in a bit of a panic about what to wear, something compounded by my impending, self-imposed ‘must leave the house by 2.15pm’ deadline.

 

Eventually I made it out, and set about my 2 hour journey to Florence House in West Sussex for Closure – the Hoffman graduating ceremony, and scene of one of the happiest nights of my life.

 

I have traffic to thank for calming me down.

 

I didn’t need to be there until about 5, but I wanted to allow time for the famous traffic on the M25, so I gave myself an extra 30 minutes. It was only just enough. 2 ¾ hours later, I arrived at Florence House having spent the vast majority of my journey in total silence; a far cry from the tornado of nervous energy and loud music I had begun with.

 

Florence House

Florence House

The House

The House

I parked in the driveway, and walked up to the house, immediately spotting the glorious open grounds in front of me. Memories flooded back – of revelations around the fire, of roses left behind, and of so much more – and I felt a lump in the back of my throat and tears forming in my eyes. For the first time in at least a couple of weeks, England had decided to have a sunny day, and the rays warmed my face and shone upon me. I don’t believe in God, but it was a godly sort of day.

 

There was one problem, however. My instructions were to enter Florence House at the back of the building, which meant entering the back garden, and then sneaking past the room, which I did, stalking past like Wile E.Coyote trying to sneak up on Road Runner. Though the curtains were closed, I later realised that due to the amounts of sunlight, if people’s eyes weren’t closed, they would have seen me, in silhouette, throwing some very weird and funny shapes as I snuck past the windows.

 

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Tea Room

Tea Room

I entered through the back door, still quite nervous, and suddenly overwhelmed with memories. It was all there, just as it was before – the seemingly never-ending biscuit barrel, the teas, the shelves of plates, the kitchen with its chairs and decoration ready for the post-Closure food – everything, just as it was. It was as though someone had pressed ‘pause’ in the house, and I was coming back to press ‘play’. It felt weird, it felt surreal, and mostly, it felt like home.

 

I made myself some tea, but I didn’t feel relaxed. I was the only one there, for one thing, and it began to dawn on me the tremendous responsibility I would have if I were the only graduate there – and more, how disappointing it might be for the people finishing their process if the only one to turn up to turn up to a Closure was someone who had only just finished theirs. I mean, it’s lasting change they ultimately would like to hear about.

 

 

 

I paced the kitchen. I looked out at the back garden, the scene of our group photo. I played with my phone, and I was not relaxed. This was not an ideal way to be. The door opened, and out popped Simon. I’d forgotten just how long his hugs went on for, and resolved that if I should ever meet him again, I’d ‘out-hug’ him – just for fun. We had tea together, and somehow, just being with him and in Florence House once again calmed me, and I felt a whole lot better.

 

Eventually, I was led into the room, where the group were sitting in their all-too-familiar semi-circle. I sat at the back, on some pillows, and closed my eyes, trying to tune into the part of the ceremony they were currently in. It was actually really tough to do this, being that they were about halfway through, but eventually, I got there, and though I was distracted from time to time, looking to see if anyone else had turned up (eventually, someone did – Karen, who had finished her process 8 years ago – thus killing two birds with one stone) and to see when I would need to move into sitting in a chair. I can’t think if my mind is just playing tricks on me, but I distinctly remember opening my eyes, and seeing the graduates there as if out of nowhere.

 

Still, the Closure ceremony was as moving as it ever was. I was connected, and I felt those same feelings of forgiveness and comfort that I remember all too well from sitting in that room on July 10th.

 

Eventually, I was introduced to the group, and joined them standing in a circle along with Karen. They broke for dinner, and after talking a little to Mairi and a couple of the other teachers, I answered what seemed like ten million questions, trying to be as honest as I could, without revealing too much about what had happened.

 

I stumbled over a couple of questions – especially ones about relationships after the process. I mean, it’s not easy to explain to someone without killing their positivity that my relationship went out the window shortly after I left Florence House…

 

When all the questions were finished, the party began, and I took it as my cue to begin the long journey home. I got into my car, and drove home in silence, eventually getting back very late, and falling into bed.

 

I wish today’s entry could have been longer. On one hand, I am, as I said, very tired, and very conscious that today’s work isn’t my best writing – and that’s annoying me. But also, as people reading this who have done the course will appreciate, I don’t want to say too much about what has passed. That’s for that group, and for me to remember.

 

I’ll leave you today with my final thought of the day. At the end of the questions, I got up and announced I had to begin my long journey home. One person said ‘you came all this way just for us?’ And then thanked me, as did the other members of the group.

 

It made me think about the course as a whole. Whether or not I came to help out the others is irrelevant, but their reality thinks it I did just for that reason. Similarly, whether or not the Hoffman Process is the answer for everyone, I don’t know, but in those moments, in those 8 days, it worked for me, and provided the answers I was looking for. I thought that when I left, and I thought how angry I’d felt a couple of days earlier when my arrogant father said ‘Hoffman isn’t the answer to everything you know.’

 

It is to me, as the notion of someone undertaking a 4 hour journey was to the group.

 

Have a great weekend everyone.

 

Closed Box

 

 

 

4th October: My Birthday Present To Myself

September 18, 2008

Although, it should be said, my birthday is actually on the 21st.

Anyway, just a quick entry today as I have a very short period of time to do some work before I leave at 12 in order to get home, and then get to West Sussex.

I have decided to get a second tattoo, this time in the inside of my arm. I have one other tattoo, my grandfather’s initials, which are HG.

When I was young man first living in London, my mother and I lived alone. During the school holidays, my mother would drag me to work, where she worked with her father (who had rescued us, effectively) in Archway, in his clothes shop.

Every day, they would buy me lunch and comics, and sit me downstairs where they kept all the stock, where I would read the comics in about 30 seconds, and play football with bundled up tissue paper covered in Sellotape.

Being that I was about 6 or 7 years old at the time, I would very quickly get bored, and I would sneak upstairs to see what was happening with the grown ups. My grandfather, a moody, buy ultimately soft man, would scowl at me and I would scream and run back downstairs before repeating this process over and over again.

I grew to love my grandfather like the father he was at that time in my life, and, in the spirit of our playfulness, and never forgetting those days, I dubbed him ‘The Green Eyed Monster’ – the man who scowled when I came upstairs.

When he died, I resolved to get a tattoo to remember him by. With my past drug-fuelled indiscretions, my memory ain’t what it should be, and sometimes, I forget things. So, one day, after wanting to get it done for about 2 years, I went to a tattoo parlour in Covent Garden, and had ‘HG’ tattooed on my lower back, with a little devil tail coming off the ‘G’ for ‘The Green Eyed Monster’. I don’t see it every day, but I always know its there, and more importantly, I’ll never forget.

And so, this October 4th, I will be commemorating something else I don’t want to forget with this:

I’ll see you all tomorrow with my ‘Closure’ report.

Closed Box