From Therapy to Therapist
Back in 2000 I was the mother of two teenage children, feeling, as many do in their early 40’s, a lack of meaningful achievement, a sense of time running out, and a burning question…who am I?
On the surface my life looked good. But the truth was that I was struggling to identify who I really was underneath the role of daughter, wife and mother. My spiritual life had no form and little content. I could see that my working life had been a series of random, opportunistic and luckily, interesting jobs, primarily chosen to fit around the care of my children.
I’d been in therapy for some years dealing with childhood trauma, including the death of my father when I was five and, while I’d made progress, little in my behaviour had fundamentally shifted. A good friend had returned from the Hoffman Process, sparkly-eyed, energetic and focused, and most importantly, more ‘herself’. The prospect of eight days of continuous exploration, as opposed to one hour psychotherapy sessions, ending with my having to collect the kids from school or whatever, had huge appeal.
I loved my Process, sobbing my way through it and emerged knowing that I was OK as I was not the ‘bad’ person I had believed myself to be, what a relief!
Finding Clarity – Planning a New Future
I was now facing the next phase of my life with more clarity and purpose. My children would soon be adults and I had some apologies to make to them about my unconscious parenting – ouch! Since then my son Tom and his partner have had 2 children and I delight and revel in them. I’m very different as a grandmother, present, thoughtful, patient, and heart-meltingly loving. I’d heard about the legendary grandparently love but, by heck, it hit me like cream doughnut in my heart…soft, squishy and entirely delicious!
I’d learnt on the Process that I wanted to train in both psychotherapy as well as become a Hoffman teacher which so obviously played to my skills and strengths. I began my training on a Buddhist-based Core Process Psychotherapy course, accredited through Middlesex University, a fascinating and deep nine year journey of study and supervised clinical practice culminating in a Masters degree. I hugely enjoyed the depth of the psychotherapy work, seeing weekly clients from my practice. In August 2005 I qualified as a Hoffman teacher, and as a Supervising Hoffman teacher 2 years later. I love my work, It’s a privilege and a pleasure to watch people returning to or finding their true selves.
On my own Process I had reconnected to a small flame within me, my spiritual self, and knew this was a fire which would need regular stoking. So I continue to find out more about myself, others and life, through further trainings, the Enneagram, Constellations, meditation, dreamwork and I’ve joined a group interested in spiritual teachings – we meet twice a year for week-long retreats.
Alone at Last – The Joys of a ‘Gap Year’
After my accreditation with the UK Council for Psychotherapy in 2011 I decided to take a sabbatical and set off on a long-delayed and much-condensed gap year. Committing to one-to-one clients and teaching the Process had ruled out real holidays; after several years of this I was feeling like I needed a decent, restorative and exciting break.
Fourteen weeks in the Southern Hemisphere, basking in warmth during the depth of an English winter was, well, sheer bliss. But more than this, I was out in the world, little old me, properly alone for the first time and not without trepidation – the solo times in my childhood had left me wary of what life could throw at me.
So it was a joy to experience this world unfurling itself before me like a vivid, multi-coloured, richly-patterned carpet. I could feel myself blossoming into the pleasures and delights of life. Time with my daughter in Melbourne after a year’s separation was heaven, visiting my brother in Tasmania, camping in the bush, staying with a treasured friend who was ill; yes Australia was fun and rewarding. I had spent a year there with my husband and two infant children as a wife and mother 25 years ago. This time it was just me. Any shades of my old belief that ‘I would never be enough on my own’ evaporated. I was happy to see myself reflected in the eyes of old and new Aussie friends as a loving, funny and authentic woman.
Perhaps the greatest adventure was camper-vanning around New Zealand on my own. I swam with dolphins, sat in sulphur bogs, met fascinating fellow travellers at campsites and witnessed the vast red sun sinking into the Tasman sea on an empty beach. I even met a wonderful new man who has now joined me in England!
Happy in My Skin
So here I stand at 54, truly in my own skin, deeply grateful for my life and all its riches and challenges, happier than I have ever been. Refreshed from my Southern adventure, I’m finding a new depth and joy in my Hoffman work.
My journey to this place has not always been easy: my valued marriage ended, I had to find the strength to do hitherto unexplored very “grown up” things and I have had to work on my continuing (irritating!) patterns. So what of my burning question “who am I?”. I find I’m a human being who often fails, but I don’t beat myself up for it as I used to and I allow my vulnerability to be seen. But most of all, I feel I am lovable just the way I am and I can claim my place in the hearth of the fire of life. Now THAT is worth everything.