Saturday, October 18, 2014
The Journey Begins
The tale I'm going to tell you is, in effect, that memoir I spoke of a couple months back. But told from the inside out, in the voice of the real me who was trying, in so many painful fits and starts, to find out who I was and what I wanted in life. I was raised in a situation where everything I wanted to do or be was prohibited or discouragingly criticized. So by the time I left home, I had no idea what was me and what wasn't. I was running away, but I had no clue what I was running toward. It took me a very long time to get some ground beneath my feet.
There's really no difference to me between personal growth, self development, and spiritual awakening -- I see them on a continuum. My trajectory through personal growth, which began in the early 1970s, led eventually to self development (aka attempts to fix myself), which empowered my self understanding and eventual spiritual maturation. You could liken my path as from the occult, like Astrology, to mindfulness of right-now reality, as in Zen Buddhism. And pretty much everything in between.
I graduated college with a degree in psychology. I'd never planned to be a psychologist; rather, I'd hoped to begin to learn some things about myself. The field of psychology in the late-60s/early-70s was all about rat behavior, social and industrial psychology, physiological psychology, and abnormal behavior as in psychoses. Nothing humanistic, transpersonal, self-awareness or Jungian about it. My personal curiosity about myself and what made me tick, though, had begun and would never end.
Instead of launching into a career after graduating, in 1971 I married my first husband, and we relocated to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles. I worked at UC Santa Cruz and took my first personal growth-type workshops through UCSC's Employee Development Department. Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling was offered, and through that I began to delve just a little bit deeper into myself. Also, a good friend at the time soon became involved with the San Francisco Zen Center, and my visits with her inspired me to read Alan Watts. I also read other pop psychology authors of the time, including Ellis, Maslow, Rogers, Assagioli, Perls.
My nascent soul stirring made me realize I wasn't happy in my marriage. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted, only that I didn't want to have to dumb myself down by playing the wife in a planned-childless marriage where there was no true intimacy. There had to be more to life, and more to myself.
We separated and then divorced in the mid-1970s, and I began what would become a 35-year journey of ongoing transitions in my personal life: geographic changes (from Santa Cruz to...Maui, back to Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Norway/Denmark/England, Maui, Boulder, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Humboldt County), relationship changes (including a second five-year marriage, a three-year cohabitation, and countless shorter-term attempts at love relationships), travels (to Europe as mentioned above, and Bali in 1984), job changes and a career arc, and many house moves within most locations.
During the early part of my journey, in the late 1970's, I was into the occult and sampled Eastern philosophy. I'd had my astrological chart done for the first time (a totally right-on analysis of my life and what I was/would be up against throughout my life ~ MANY squares and oppositions in my chart ~ that set the context for what was to come), I studied Tarot, I threw the I Ching compulsively. There was an Arica House in the Santa Cruz mountains and I went to group sessions there for a while. I read a lot of Eastern masters of the time ~ Muktananda, Baba Hari Das, Sai Baba, Krishnamurti, Swami Satchidananda.
Also during this time, I took est (Erhard Seminars Training) for the first time, and while I was on Maui, in 1978 I took psychology courses at Maui Community College taught by an instructor whose work then was steeped in Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal Work. So I wrote my heart out for the better part of a year, looking deeply at my life for the first time, writing about pretty much every nuance of every early relationship, every event, and every steppingstone and intersection I'd negotiated in my life up til then.
The legacy of my childhood and adolescence, having been raised with the particular set of circumstances that I had been, was that I felt wholly defective. I wasn't like anybody else, at a time when conformity was something one strived for and being one's natural self was shunned. I came of age feeling shameful and sick inside. Which is why I kept moving. I was looking for a connection with people and/or places where I felt like I fit in. Although there were high points and short-term alliances with individuals and groups of people, I wouldn't truly feel good about myself inside for another 25 or 30 years.
But by the late 1970s, it was still early days of my self-knowledge. All the personal growth work I'd done thus far had been undertaken in an effort to understand myself so I could FIX myself ~ i.e., fit in, be "normal," conform.
To be continued, here...