Authors note: This article will be more meaningful if you’ve read Suicide Is Not an Option first.
It was toward the end of March 2005 and I was still living in my friend Patricia’s place. The two of us were struggling with our own issues, and each other, as we mirrored our fears back to each other for each of us to see, hear and feel. Deep inside she believed that I wasn’t really the friend who I purported to be. Part of her believed that I didn’t love her and care about her, and part of her did, and it was the former belief that was winning out. Of course, as we usually do in these circumstances, she had friends that she consulted that supported her core belief that no man really cared about her as they egged her on in that direction. To them, she should just kick me out of her house and be done with me, and I can certainly understand that point of view. She and I did have an agreement to work through our emotional issues and to stay current with each other. I think that’s what motivated her to work so hard at this, along with the fact that we’ve been good friends for over 20 years.
I guess I’ve been doing this work too long to talk to anybody about this kind of conflict except those like Jelaila and my friend Nancy Joy, who both know and use the Keys of Compassion in their own lives. They know that in any conflict there exists a mirror of ourselves, and they’re good at supporting me in looking at that perspective. So my focus, for the most part, was on my issue with my mother that I needed to clear.
My issue was the belief that if I be for me, bad things happen. This, as I have already explained, came from what I call the mama’s boy syndrome, a situation in which a boy’s mother has trained him to be for her before he thinks of his own existence, much less his own needs and desires. And, in my case at least, as an infant I interpreted that, to be for me, was actually a threat to me, a true mind fuck of a way to live. This was because, on an unconscious level, if I went against her she could cause me harm because she held life itself – her mother’s milk – as a bargaining chip. Again, I emphasize that this wound occurred on an unconscious level, with intelligence but without awareness. This therefore had become an internal war that externalized with females to whom I became close and who carried a similar pattern to my mother’s. So the more she confronted me about not closing a cupboard or something else in my behavior or habits that offended her, the more frustrated I became, feeling incompetent, hopeless, oppressed and shamed. As you know, all this led to a huge fight between the two of us, and that led to her throwing me out of her house. But before all this happened, when we were still both warm and fuzzy, something else happened, and that I did not tell you about. I left it out because it wasn’t pertinent to Suicide Is Not an Option, and I felt that the article was getting too long. The more I thought about it, however, the more I felt like I should write about what happened, because it was a valuable lesson to me about how sometimes I must fight hard for what I don’t want, but do need.
Patricia has for many years been a participant in a series of trainings called the Landmark Forum, a company founded by former trainers involved in EST, an awareness training company no longer in business. She has, over the years, invited me to attend her graduation of the training. Sometimes I’ve accepted, and at other times I’ve declined. When she asked me this time, I felt inclined to go with her because, I suppose, it seemed to feel good to be supportive to a good friend. I had no inclination to attend a training myself and I knew that the company uses these graduations to sign up new clients. I just had never been drawn to do the Forum because my training in hospitals was done by someone who used many of the EST techniques and I saw no reason to pay to attend something so similar to what I already knew and practiced in my daily life. So this I made clear to her in my acceptance of her invitation, that I was going only to support her and I was not going to attend the Forum as a participant because I knew she hoped I would.
A gentle but persistent rain fell the evening we went to the graduation, as we were at the end of the long and intense rainstorms that had inundated California that year. The traffic reflected my congested emotions manifesting congestion throughout the entire short distance to the Forum’s offices. I felt relatively comfortable going with her that night because I have no trouble saying no to salespeople, high-pressure or not. In addition, having been open and honest in regards to my intentions, I was relaxed being with Patricia this evening. Grateful for the covered parking, we took an elevator down to the lobby level and scurried through the courtyard to the dryness of the lobby of the 10 story high-rise in which the Forum operates.
Sitting in a room large enough to easily seat 500 people that was destined to do so this evening, I found myself quite comfortable and somewhat at home, not nervous or on edge at all. This was quite noticeable to me as most of the time these days I did feeling nervous and on edge when out of the house among groups of people, even something as mundane as the grocery store. To me, it usually felt overwhelming which brought up fear and then the need to cope with it all. But here I was, sitting in the very front row, feeling quite at ease and noting how the person speaking was a man about my age with the same type of graying beard. I noticed that I was enjoying being with him. I found myself just sitting back flowing along with his presentation and energy, feeling somewhat like I imagine a normal person might feel in such a circumstance. At the same time, I was aware that given how I would normally feel at this part of my spiritual quest – the reptilian template – I shouldn’t feel so good! This dichotomy was my first clue that something was up.
After an hour or so all the guests were split into smaller groups and led to smaller rooms for a chance to decide if they wanted to enroll. Much of the Forum is interactive usually with whoever is sitting next to you. When we were instructed to interact with person sitting next to us, I had no one sitting next to me, so a Forum volunteer walked over and sat next to me, another man about my age with yet another graying beard much like mine. Now I’m starting to know that something really was up.
The facilitator of our group had given his initial presentation which included his own experience of his personal growth obtained by taking part in the Forum, and now instructed us to speak/listen to our partner. I don’t remember what the details were but I knew that I had no desire to temper down a conversation with this individual … in other words take some more sane thoughts from the insanity of my mind and only present what I thought he might be able to relate to. Instead I just let whatever came to my mind spew out of my mouth, half expecting him to run from the room. I wish I could relate the exact words of our conversation, but the two of us went into some kind of zone where no matter what I said, he seemed to be able to hear it and actually became so engrossed in the conversation that he would ignore the facilitator’s next instructions, wanting to continue our point of conversation rather than go on to the next part of the exercise! It was like I could say: I feel like taking out my knife and slashing your throat and watching your blood spew forth down your white dress shirt , and he would casually reply, Yes, I did that once and red is a great color! I’m exaggerating here, but you get the idea -no matter what I said, he seemed to relate … even though he could not possibly know enough about what I was saying or even understand the context from which I spoke to be able to respond. Yet he did … again and again. Now, I was acutely aware of how surreal this all was and I knew that I was getting a very clear and even dramatic message to stay connected here at this unlikely venue. I felt strongly that there was a piece of the puzzle… maybe only one piece, but an important one … here, and I needed it. If I could just remain open, I would find it.
The final confirmation came when Ken, as he was called, said, I don’t really belong here tonight, as I was supposed to leave for home two hours ago, but for some reason, completely unknown to me, I stayed. I was just standing at the back of the room when I felt compelled to come and sit next to you. OK, I get it. Of course, I still had no money and by now Patricia and the other graduates had joined us. I still somewhat reluctantly expressed my very clear desire to sign up for the program, but explained that I lacked the funds. Immediately, Patricia volunteered to give, not loan, me the down payment as a gift. Why was I not surprised? Once I decide what my next step is, I like to move forward as soon as possible, so I selected the very next start date which was in two weeks. This selection, we all discovered, prompted the need to pay full tuition tonight. I now became very aware of an agreement I had with my wife, since she was at home managing all our funds, I would not make large expenditures without checking with her first. So I told Ken and Patricia I’d have to wait until I could speak to her tomorrow, as it was too late in her time zone to call her now. At this point, Patricia stated that she would loan me the balance under the condition that I only needed to pay her back when I could with no time limit. This, of course, closed the deal with me keeping my agreement with Jelaila.
Another reason I wanted to start as soon as possible was that I’ve noticed that when I am getting ready to take my next step in spiritual growth, some resistance comes forth, so why not take the leap and go for it? As the reader already knows, a few days after this wonderfully synchronistic evening together Patricia I would have our knockdown drag out fight which would culminate in her evicting me from her house. By the time the Forum was to start, I was staying at a cozy little motel on Coast Highway in Sunset Beach, right across from the beach. I was walking on the beach each morning and then selling home improvement contracts for my son’s boss as a way to generate a few dollars. All my life I wanted to actually live at the beach and be able to walk on it without having to drive there first and now I had it. So I was in no mood at the time to move up to a cheap hotel by the L.A. airport where the Forum was to be held. After what had occurred with Patricia, I didn’t even want to do the Forum anymore and was thinking I must have been nuts to have signed up in the first place. But having an agreement – having given my word – that I would be there, I checked out of my new home away from home at the beach and moved to -of all places – a Motel 6 at LAX.
While an obviously invaluable resource for me at the time, Motel 6 somewhat stands for everything I loath – cheapness extraordinaire – representing a belief that there’s not enough and only give to yourself the bare, and I do mean bare, minimum. Even the towels are more like washcloths than true towels! My point is, that here I was, truly now in resistance to this whole idea. I really did not want to do this anymore, especially since it came from Patricia who now, at this time, was a very unpleasant memory. So I checked into the Motel 6 and paid for the three nights ahead of time as they required. They had no restaurant at this hotel, so I was walking next door to the Holiday Inn to eat as I glanced up at the building across the street which was where the Forum was located. At that moment my cell phone rang and it was Eliza, a volunteer of the Forum, calling me. She then said the most amazing thing to me. She explained that Patricia had withdrawn her payment of my tuition and if I wanted to attend tomorrow, I needed to pay for the full amount myself tonight! I could not believe my ears! Here I had fought through all my resistance to even be here and attend a training that I now didn’t want and I thought I didn’t need, only to have it all jerked away – after I moved all the way up here and paid for my hotel. I was very much, not happy.
Now I’ve been around long enough to recognize a set up and this was a classic. I was acutely aware at that moment that I did need to do this Forum, I did not want to, and that if I accepted Eliza’s position I would, even though not taking the Forum would surely be justified, fail in taking my next step. As William Bendix used to say, What a revolting development this is! One of the main elements on which the Forum prides itself is integrity. When you make an agreement, you keep it, no matter what, which is very much in alignment with my own values. So I hung up the phone and stomped across the street and into the elevator up to Eliza’s office where I confronted her regarding what I felt was the Forum’s lack of integrity, the breaking of their agreement, since I had a paid receipt issued by them. Where the money came from and whether or not they allowed Patricia to break her agreement, had nothing to do with their agreement with me, as was evidenced by my paid receipt. This became quite an intense conversation as you might imagine, the whole time with me being very aware that I was indeed giving it everything I had, fighting for my right to do something that I absolutely did not want to do, but had to do!
In the end after I demanded that Eliza bring in her supervisor, they agreed to grant me a scholarship and they now considered the tuition paid in full – by them. So I got to do what I didn’t want to do and as a reward for fighting my way through this resistance, it was free! As the reader already knows from my last article, I did get a very significant piece at the Forum … how to create a reality that I’ve never experienced before with no outside physical support. That reality was happiness without a reason, happiness just for the sake of happiness. Somehow it seems fitting that I, being me, had to fight for it.
Written January 2006