Four months ago (July 16, 2015) I wrote a post that I didn’t post. I needed time to reflect. What I learned in this time of reflection is that I simply can’t create and post anything until I do this; every time I try to write something else, I come back to The One I Didn’t Post. Hopefully doing so now will help 1.) others know they are not alone and that help is available, and 2.) jumpstart my blogging intentions once again.
It’s rather long, so grab some water, coffee, tea, or whatever you like, and get comfy. Here it is…
How the Services I Provide (& One I Don’t) Saved My Life
It’s no secret I’ve endured a few challenging years, especially the last two and a half which were gut wrenching. If you’re human, and you’ve lived long enough, you probably know the kind. Those times when something so traumatic happens that you are brought you to your knees and you feel like you’ve been physically socked in the stomach numerous times, and then churned beneath the wheels of a convoy. Sooner or later, we all have such experiences in life.
People often make the mistake of thinking that those who work in holistic, alternative, mental health, – hell, even mainstream medicine for that matter – have some special inborn or well learned response to unbearable trauma. Sure, we have a lot of tools and knowledge many don’t, and that, in some ways, does profit us immediate options others may not yet have, but guess what? We’re human. Traumas knock us just as out of whack as they do others. When they do, yes, we will often reach for the very tools we use with clients and use them to prompt our own recovery.
When the life and world I knew collided into an invisible steel-reinforced brick wall, I was so broken I was unable to do anything but remember to simply breathe. Just breathe. I was unable to perform any other healing methods. Breathing is something we all do. If we don’t breathe, chances are we are surely dead. Thus Breathing Meditation, initially coupled with remaining present (hard to do when you are desperate to get away from the torrent of pain at any cost) was my initial life-saving line. I breathed and cried, breathed and sobbed, breathed and wept, breathed and screamed, breathed and agonized, and stayed present with it for a long, long time. Staying present was most excruciating because I wanted to be anything and everything but present.
The day after the initial blow, my brother-in-heart – you know, those friends who are more family than friends – came and stayed the night. His wife, my sister-in-heart, sent him with a blend of Neroli and Palo Santo pure essential oils on a tissue placed in a sandwich bag. This I opened and breathed in in deep and long breaths while clinging to the unakite stone she had also sent with him. These tools brought an immediate stabilizing effect, allowing me to become calmer and gain some semblance of clarity and hope, and also allowing me to again speak with some intelligence.
For the first month or so, I was incapable of running energy even for myself, so I relied on only remembering to breathe, to remain present, hold the stone (I had to cleanse it several times each day in the beginning), and inhale the Neroli and Palo Santo blend. Because I couldn’t eat, I survived mainly on a special blend of drink which consisted of a combination of two powered protein drink mixes flavored with a scoop of lemon-lime Gatorade. Those few simple things required every milligram of energy I had left to concentrate on.
And I’m not afraid or embarrassed to admit I called on a licensed counselor. From where the strength came to call her on the first day, I cannot answer, except to say by the grace and mercy of God. Because of the stigma associated with feeling such a thing, I am, I admit, afraid to tell you I started to have suicidal thoughts. I didn’t want to die. I just wanted the merciless agony to end. Nothing more, nothing less. This phase of the recovery process I was undergoing was frightening in and of itself.
As time passed, I was again able to work with guided healing meditations. Still unable to facilitate healing energy for myself, I listened to these multiple times each day; adding them to the continued breathing meditations, practicing presence, holding the unakite stone, breathing in the essential oil blend, and keeping my counseling appointments.
And I started doing yoga again.
Those were the beginning steps of the processes that literally saved my life.
Eventually, I was able to incorporate EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique; aka Tapping) and was again able to eat solid foods on a daily basis. And I had started teaching workshops again. One day, the weight of the initial trauma came barreling down on me. I felt almost as overwhelmed as I had during the initial days. I was worried I would have to cancel an EFT workshop I was scheduled to teach the next day. I sat down and began doing EFT on myself. In only two rounds it all shifted from an extreme ten (I call this the “I’m-going-to-go-postal-on-somebody’s-a**” level) to a one. I had been a practitioner-teacher of EFT for ten years at that point, so I knew this was possible and had experienced it myself and seen it with clients many times prior, but this time I also felt a dramatic shift (and, boy, do I mean dramatic), and I disbelieved. Yet, it was undeniable.
What was different? I wondered. After a quick assessment I realized something. Never before that moment had I used the phrase “…love myself” in the EFT set-up phrase! (This probably makes more sense to those of you who are EFT-knowledgeable.) Can you imagine? In ten years of practicing EFT, I had never used the phrase “…love myself.” That was a stunning realization, and it made all the difference. I now use it quite often.
Being able to self-apply EFT again was a genuine stabilizing force for me. I was once again able to facilitate healing energy (various styles and methods). Though it didn’t come easy, the effort was worth it. Five or ten minutes was all I could manage at first. Then fifteen minutes, then half an hour.
Little more than nine months after the first trauma, I was hit with a second severe blow. It was a small period in which I neither progressed any further nor reverted in decline. It was simply a period of stalemate in which I continued doing what I had been doing up to that point, able to sustain the current stage of recovery though unable to press forward.
I continued to work with fierce diligence and determination with the healing energy until I was again able to self-treat for up to two hours. [The two-hour self-treatment started coming easily to me again, on a regular basis, only about two months ago.] The one hour mark came more readily than the two-hour mark. For nearly a year I hovered within the one-hour and one-and-one-quarter hour range.
It had been well over a year since the initial trauma occurred, and although the suicidal thoughts and feelings were lessening in intensity, they were still difficult to grapple with, and I was diagnosed with chronic clinical depression. I had had bouts of depression before. Just like we all experience at least one trauma in our lives that seems to upend every cell of our being, we all experience low, depressive states at least once or twice. This was a level however I had not before experienced. Thankfully I see a holistically-minded general practitioner who understands I prefer natural over chemical, so instead of prescribing me a synthetic anti-depressant she suggested I try Saint John’s Wort. Though I had taken it before, I had never taken it long term. I started noticing positive changes within the first days.
About two or three weeks from starting the Saint John’s Wort regimen, a friend asked me what my doctor had prescribed me that had carried me through to that point. I shared with her I had been healing myself with the tools I use with clients, and that I had just begun taking the Saint John’s Wort.
“What?” she exclaimed. “I thought you’d been taking some real serious anti-depressants this whole time.” It was one of those moments along the way in which I recalled how powerful holistic healing therapies really are. Turned out, almost everyone I know who knows the trauma story, thought I was taking some kind of prescribed, heavy-duty anti-depressant. This still makes me chuckle. [Today, when I look back to that time, I understand her shock. I understand why so many thought I had been taking prescription. It makes me shake my head in awe.]
During the same time frame, I was growing serious about Flower Essence Therapy.
Flower Essence Therapy (FET) was not new to me. Like many, I used it for a few years, here and there, for immediate assistance where deemed necessary. I knew enough to use it in my personal life with some success, but now I wanted to know much more. I knew I needed to do everything I was capable of in order to recover as fully as possible. In earnest, I began studying, researching, and using myself as the cliché guinea pig. (If it doesn’t work well for me, no matter how well it might work for others, I don’t incorporate it into my business.) I learned which essences do what and when, how to choose essences for balanced blends, and various dosing and preserving methods, all while using them for my own healing. The more I incorporated them into my own life, the more benefits they provided. FET quickly became an integral part of my self-care tool chest, and one I continue to use. It too is now available to clients.
Because what I went through was so powerful and so raw, it seeped into every area of my life, including business. I firmly believe in the “heal yourself first” motto. As a practitioner, I believe practitioners have no business working on clients when they themselves are not in proper shape to do so. In the first stages I didn’t work at all for almost two months. Slowly I began to schedule clients again, only one or two per week; and when I wasn’t in the right place to do so, I rescheduled, whether it was a healing session, a reading, intuitive guidance, you name it. As someone who literally survives session to session and class to class, this was a terribly frightening time and added to the already overwhelming obstacles I was facing. But I could not, in good conscious, provide a service I was in no proper shape to perform just to meet my bills, no matter how dire my financial situation. That is a downside to this business, especially when you are a sole proprietor.
I lost a lot of business and I lost of clients. And to add insult to injury, there were those in the wings more than happy to take advantage of my situation. Colleagues I never in a million years would have believed would do so, actively pursued clients of mine which they wanted. I’m glad those clients were still receiving services; after all, I did refer them out. Their need and desire for services don’t cease because I’ve gone out of commission for a while. I just never expected some of these colleagues to do what they did.
This caused an exacerbation of anxiety. So that too was thrown onto the heap I was already dealing with. I have had anxiety and panic attacks for many years, which have been controlled 90% by the holistic therapies I self-apply, and 10% by occasional prescriptions which are taken only when there is an acute, active attack which needs to be stopped right now. Thank God, that’s rare.
So I’ve had to move on. And I have. I am now basically rebuilding business from scratch. The upside is that things are open for a whole new clientele, and hopefully the new clientele will be as loyal as those who have stuck with me through the years. I now have even better services, because what I have been through led me to studying some new things which, happy coincidence, improved upon methods I had already been using; and I now also have a new service (FES, which I mentioned previously). So both loyal and new clients will benefit greatly from all I‘ve been through.
That’s the thing about it. As awful as what I went through was, it helped me become a better, wiser, more skilled, more educated person and practitioner. I try my best to not let any experience, even those I’d rather not have, go to waste. If I may so myself, I’m doing a hell of a job of it this time!
I’m a stronger person for it all, and that too had seeped into my business. And I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t relied on the very services I offer clients. Yes, there were people along the way who rallied to my side, some literally, others in their own ways, and they too each made significant impact on my surviving what I have. But the real work, the hard work, that was all up to me. No one could do it for me. The events that caused the initial trauma and the one succeeding it are still evolving and I pray will resolve for everyone’s best interest, but I’m still here, damn it! I’m still here! And I’m doing well.
I’ll never again be who I was. What happened to me, changed me. Fundamentally. Forever. And for the most part, it has been a really good thing. Like I said, things are still evolving, which includes me.
The final thing I want to share with you is this: just when you think your life has ended, when you’re feeling like you can’t take another breath and you’d rather be anywhere but here on this planet, please hold on! On the other side of the chaos, turmoil, and unbearable pain you’re experiencing, just might be something incredibly beautiful.