Posts Tagged ‘Hoffman Process’

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.

 

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

There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet

December 3, 2008

I went Christmas shopping yesterday for my one-legged girlfriend. I managed to find her this great prosthetic leg, so I bought it. It’s not her main present though, more of a stocking filler.

 

 

Thanks folks, I’ll be here all week.

 

Ok, seriously, this is my favourite joke of the week: Two nuns are driving down the road, when out of nowhere, a vampire jumps on the car bonnet. ‘What shall we do?!?!’ Screams the first nun, to which the second nun replies ‘show it your cross.’ So the first nun shouts ‘GET OFF THE FUCKING CAR!’

 

This week, I have mostly been NOT revising. I write this sentence at 09:26am, meaning that I have a grand total of 33hrs 34mins to learn the entire biological process and theory of anxiety, including notable dates of discovery, who discovered them, and, for good measure, an encyclopaedic mental reference guide to animal testing, differences in human and animal brain hemispheres, and, if possible, where all the main receptors are located in the brain. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

 

But prior to this, I have some work of an entirely different nature to do. In fact, no, scrub that – it’s basically the same. I have a friend we’ll call Alex. Alex is a fucking great guy, has a great job, and a great life. Alex has a brother, who we’ll call Steve. Steve is ying to Alex’s yang – where Alex is successful, bright and together, Steve is unemployed, has no motivation, and suffers terribly with depression.

 

Alex and I know each other well enough that I was able to tell him about my process – why I did it, what I was going through, and how I feel as a result, and, because of this, Alex has asked me to talk to his brother. I met Steve once – he came out for my birthday with Alex – and, at the time, he seemed pretty happy, if a little shy. The meeting was orchestrated by Alex, with a view to me meeting his brother, just so he has someone to empathise with, and to talk to – I guess Alex feels I’ll understand some of the things Steve is suffering with.

 

So last week, I called Steve, and my heart nearly broke. Alex has obviously told Steve he can talk to me and he can tell me anything he likes, and I’ll have at least a small understanding of what he is saying – but when I called him, he sounded as though somewhere inside of him, all he wanted to do was curl up in a corner and wait until the entire idea just goes away.

 

Gone was the friendly, together person I met 6 weeks earlier, and in his place was a very clearly frightened person, stammering and stuttering his way through disjointed sentences. Like I said, my heart nearly broke. How I felt for this guy; how daunting the entire idea must be for him. He’s never had a day’s therapy in his life, and has just shouldered and swallowed every feeling he’s ever had, and tonight, he’s meeting with someone that was there, and has come out the other side. What he doesn’t know is just how nervous I am, too.

 

Though there is overwhelming temptation, I am going to resist the urge to advise Steve about what he should do. Sure, I can help in little ways, but mostly, I am just going to listen. And hopefully he will talk. I really, really hope that whatever I can do, it will help or comfort in some small way.

 

Thinking last night about talking to Steve, I remembered an oh-so great behavioural pattern of mine, and, in thinking about things I might talk to him about, I was reminded of what I used to do, and, in a time when I am consumed by change in my life, am perhaps guilty of recently.

 

And that is setting myself unobtainable targets, and experiencing what it is to ‘fail’. (and whatever goes with it)

 

Currently, it is with regards to finding a new job, so I set myself the target of get ‘get a job’. Of course, unconsciously, I don’t just want ‘a’ job, I want a job that best represents myself, caters to my ego needs, and pays the sort of money I feel I should be earning.

 

None of these things are impossible, of course. But what I have learnt, and can thankfully now identify, is that in-between thinking ‘I want a new job’ and the many, many rejections all applicants receive at one point or another, I experience no ‘win’ – no sense of a target reached, or something achieved. Instead, I batter down the mental door with a constant barrage of ‘no’ and negativity, and, eventually, my self-esteem suffers.

 

A more positive process takes a little extra time, but the rewards are significantly more. Instead of setting myself a long-term target which will take a long time to receive, I break things down. I start, perhaps, by checking my CV (or ‘resume’) best represents me and the job I am applying for. Target 1 achieved. Then, maybe, I’ll think and try and identify something I might want to do. Target 2. And this continues and continues – the point being that I always feel overwhelmingly positive about what I am doing. Of course, it helps that I like myself quite a lot, and feel like I know what I want, but that in itself is just another process which needs to be approached in small steps.

 

So I guess what I’m getting at is this: if you’re out there struggling with something, or getting down on yourself because you feel you can’t do it, set yourself achievable targets. Let yourself feel good. Let yourself experience the joy of actually starting and finishing something. It can be as small and seemingly insignificant as you like – my sister, also a Hoffman graduate, always begins any period where she wants to lose some weight by saying ‘I want to lose ¼ lb,’ for instance – and alleviate some of that pressure. It really, really works.

 

I’d like to finish today with a pondering I have been throwing around in my head. I’ve been thinking about this a while, but I have to tell the truth and say that I am very hesitant to say it out loud. But you know something? I’ve never been scared of speaking my mind, and I’m not about to start any time soon.

 

I have a friend, we’ll call her Christine. Christine has a history of problems I won’t go into, but recently, she went away for some treatment, finished, and decided she wanted some more. Christine is, I wish to stress, one of the bravest people I know, and I am proud and almost humbled by how she faced the ghosts and horrors of her past in the way she did. Over a period of about 4 months, I cannot even begin to conceive how much punishment she must have put herself through almost every day, just to get better. But get better she did, and returned to normal life, happily declaring her treatment complete.

 

Of course, like everyone that knows Christine, I readily (and genuinely) joined in the congratulations – she thoroughly deserved every bit of it.

 

But then something began to trouble me. Christine declared she wanted to go by a new name, lets say Jane. Jane decided that she had left Christine behind, and that the person who had gone by her previous name was long gone into the mists of the past. But, I have to confess, my first thought was that she was running.

 

I am in no way accusing her of anything, nor am I trying to demean what she went through, because I think she’s amazing, and, of course, I could never even begin to understand the internal processing that led to wanting to change one’s name.

 

But (now) Jane’s new name made me think of parallels with another story I had heard recently. A friend of a friend had been dating a guy for about 6 months. He was into drugs, suffered with depression and anxiety, was quick to anger, and was constantly involved in something or other ‘dodgy’. After these 6 months, this friend of a friend discovered that (a) his American accent was a fake, (b) he lied about his parents being dead, and that (c) essentially nothing he had told her had been true, not even his name. This guy was, she decided, consumed by self-hatred to the point where he had invented an entirely new persona to live by.

 

A situation I can well sympathise with, as I have done similar, just to lesser extremes.

 

So, dear readers, I leave you with a question, a question I have been wrestling with for about a week.

 

‘When is a new beginning actually a new beginning, and not just another really big target we set ourselves?’

 

Maybe you’ll be able to answer it better than I.

 

Until next time, 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