I began my inner process when I was 34, and from the start knew this was a path I needed to follow. I connected with deep-seated pain I did not know was inside of me while receiving a quality of love beyond anything I had ever experienced. I felt lighter and freer. My longing for love was met and I had to find out more about that.
I grew up in an era when roles were clearly defined. Women were homemakers, financially dependent on men who escorted them into the world. I relied on my father and older brother to rescue me from the greyness of my mother’s deep depression. Afraid to cause trouble because of her fragile mental state, I became a ‘good girl,’ gradually losing touch with what I wanted, unable to speak for my desires. My fun was in school and with friends, but even there, my focus was primarily on others.
Married at age 21 to a brilliant and soon-to- be highly successful man, I continued the pattern of putting others first. I had no idea of my needs and desires and felt good contributing, yet after caring for one, two, three and then four children and a demanding husband, I was emotionally exhausted. I decided to begin therapy. From the first moment, I knew it would dramatically change my life, and passionately pursued my process. Five years later I asked for a divorce.
I continued to delve, feeling pain then release, hope then despair. I experienced many challenges — indebtedness, career- building, forgiveness and loss. Yet with each step I gained more strength and freedom, aliveness in all its forms. I learned about my feelings, how and where to express them, about my desires and talents, my sexuality and spirituality. I learned how to meditate. I learned to differentiate myself from my past and how to be present and honest with myself, taking responsibility for making decisions even when difficult and painful. I learned to live life on my terms.
Going through my inner process taught me that there was nothing more important than raising my children consciously and supporting others in raising theirs. Having majored in early childhood education at Cornell and having taught first grade, I opened a Parents School in 1977. There was no such thing at that time, no such word as parenting, only a few books. I approached libraries and schools, teaching parents about listening and allowing, setting structures and limits that give children safe spaces in which to choose. I told parents that their behavior taught their children far more than their words. These classes soon led to the start of my 29-year family counseling practice that became my daily delight.
Through all this I learned that life is an inside out process. In order to sustain happiness we need to know and stand for our authentic selves. I also learned that there is nothing more important than self-love, another way of saying soul selfish, for in our souls we are all connected. When we live from our souls we can only benefit others.
The words I want to share with the world:
“There’s no more time to waste. No more doing the ‘right thing,’ putting up with undesirable behaviors from others or putting off what is important to you. No more compromising your authenticity, ‘people pleasing,’ looking to others to fill you and love you.
You are your first relationship! The more you know, accept and love yourself, the more goodness will overflow from you to others. You have more love to give than you can imagine. Your journey is not for you alone.”