Getting to Know Me: How I Learned the Value of Being True to Myself
When I was a very young girl, my father read to me every night at bedtime. He taught me how to memorize and recite poetry, and shared his favorite quotes and snippets of wisdom. By the time I reached the age of reason, I had been exposed to every fairly tale, children’s story and nursery rhyme available at the time. He even read selections from Shakespeare to impress on my young mind the importance of honoring my nature, my heart, my creativity and passion, and my values and truth. It was the greatest gift a father could give his daughter, a legacy that has served me throughout my life.
Dad always treated me as an intelligent, holistic human being; with love, respect, compassion and understanding. He was my first spiritual teacher, and until recent years, one of the few people who connected with me at the level of heart and soul. His own relationship with spirit was strong and his intelligence keen.
As an adopted child, I was grateful to have Dad as my advocate in the world. He was my guide, mentor and parent, protecting and defending me until I developed the strength of character to care for myself. Sadly, my adopted mother was a fearful controlling woman. Had it not been for Dad teaching me to stand up for my truth, I might have been victim to her neurosis and emotional immaturity. With his guidance, I was able to endure her unreasonable demands and punishment-oriented parenting.
One of my earliest recollections is a time when I was sitting in my junior chair (a wooden high chair with the tray removed so I could sit at the dining table). I was about 3 1/2 years old and though I don’t recall the specifics of my mother’s issue with me, I do recall the feelings.
She was demanding that I confess to, and apologize for, something that I knew I hadn’t done. I refused to do her bidding. Even at that young age, I knew I was being truthful, and that by apologizing, I would be telling a lie. She threatened to keep me home and not allow me to go with my father on his Saturday errands in town. She knew that this was the greatest punishment she could administer, as Saturdays with my father were the highlight of my week.
In my mind I can still see the incredulous look on her angry red face. It was an expression I witnessed many times throughout my growing up years when mother grabbed a wooden coat hanger, yard stick or hair brush and spanked me to justify the rage she carried inside. I rarely did anything to justify punishment, and certainly not the kind she delivered.
The bottom line was that my mother didn’t trust me and somehow resented my relationship with my father, her husband. Even as a child, I knew that the reasons behind her anger were not about me. And thanks to my father’s teachings, I did not own the shame or guilt that lie beneath her rage.
As I grew older, I realized that her behavior was the result of not trusting herself. The torment she felt came from what she herself had done when she was young. I was the “whipping boy” to assuage her guilt, though I didn’t know the reasons behind this until many years later…but that’s another story. My deepest sadness around my mother is that I cannot recall an encouraging word, or a time when she held me or hugged me with love. I only recall her judgmental words and touching me in anger.
I am grateful to have been blessed with a father who loved me and encouraged me to be true to myself. Throughout my youth, he was my rock until his untimely passing at 60 years of age, when I was only 21. He was not only my father, but also my best friend.
I shall always remember his soothing voice, heart healing hugs, and gentle loving ways. He was the one who was there for me, to listen and give guidance and comfort, when I was frightened or sad.
Dad’s favorite quote was William Shakespeare’s,“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” It remains my favorite quotation and I live my life by it to this day. Thank you Dad…this quote and your guidance served me well.
Although I had a good intellectual understanding of our family dynamics, it was not until I did some deep inner work, that I was able to release the loss I felt upon my father’s passing. It was compounded later that month when President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963. My father was put to rest on my first wedding anniversary. His words still live in my mind.
My mother, who was five years my father’s senior, remained a widow and lived another twenty five years. She never released her fears or need to control. In her eighties, she would pout and throw tantrums in attempt to get her way. It would have been lovely to feel her love and know her as a friend, much like the relationship I’ve nurtured with my son.
Not surprisingly, I’ve attracted to myself people who’ve attempted to control me…but could not succeed. I had the perfect parents to teach me how to stay true to myself despite what others would have me say, be or do.
While studying Counseling Psychology at California State University in Chico, CA, I exchanged sessions with fellow students. As an intern at the Human Awareness Institute workshops, a Life Mastery Teacher trainee at Hartmont Institute, and a hypnotherapy student at the Palo Alto School of Hypnotherapy, I experienced a variety of therapeutic modalities including Hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Voice Dialog, Guided Visualizations, Focusing, Role Playing, Rebirthing Breathwork, and Transactional Analysis to name a few.
To become proficient in these various techniques, students work through their own personal issues and gain experience working with both private clients and groups. I personally love using teaching tales (reminiscent of the famous medical hypnotist and psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson) and drawing on my vast and varied life experience.
In working with clients, I also rely on my innate ability to read, channel and move energy. Additionally, as an avid student of Spirituality, I incorporate yogic practices and the Universal Spiritual Principles, especially Law of Attraction, in my work.