Prologue: What's Important?

My life began in an alcohol-saturated womb. I was born blue and with my right foot turned inward. The blue needed warmth — the doctors chose an incubator. My foot needed either a half body cast or a daily massage — my mother, a stranger to touch, chose the cast. Within two weeks she was so overwhelmed by motherhood that she called her mother begging for a nanny to deliver my care. It set a theme for my early life. Cold needing warmth and touch.

By the time I was two and a half my parents had divorced and I would spend the remainder of my young life as an only child with a single, depressed, severely alcoholic mother. The stories are horrific, as you can imagine, and too much to tell here. But I can say that while growing up Catholic in the 50's in an upper middle class area, there was a code of silence that surrounded every family. Whatever happened inside never was told on the outside. I didn't find out until many years after graduation that some of my closest friends from high school had alcoholic parents. We each carried shame and scores of secrets about which we were forbidden to speak. It would have been a 'sin' against the family to let an outsider in on what was really happening behind closed doors. The pain stayed inside.

I took on a role as caregiver for my mother very early in life and made a promise to myself that I would never leave home until I found a way to get her sober and off prescription painkillers and sleeping pills. I heard the party line of 'they have to hit bottom', 'you can't hurry the process'. If my mother wasn't already at the bottom, then I could never tell you where the bottom is. Yet, she wasn't ready for healing. She had to be pushed. It took me 20 years.

Life with my mother and without a father created a sensitivity and compassion in me for those in pain. Early on I could see it instantly in a person's eyes and thankfully I cared. Curiosity followed. What was going on? How does this happen to people? How can I help? How can I fix this? There must be a way.

It took me some time to appreciate the road I've traveled. Early childhood has been my teacher. My personal pain could have been my downfall if I didn't enter its door with determination, compassion of heart and light. It has become my greatest asset, a source of wisdom, strength and resiliency. It has given me the capacity to love more deeply. The choice was always mine. Ignore it and stay on its path and it would dominate my life. Face it and choose a course of healing and it would illuminate my life forever.

As I've learned and healed, my interests have expanded to others in similar circumstances who might benefit from my experience. Openly and admittedly I chose my profession in order to heal my family and myself. I don't think this is unusual in the helping professions. My work has been a life's mission; I was initiated and trained for it every day of my early years. And so today I bless my broken road — the old paths and the new ways — and the trails they've left behind that have led me to who I am today.

Imagine. Look back at the road you have traveled in your life thus far. Is the road smooth, meandering, rugged, straight, straight up, narrow, predictable? Have you been squeezed into it or had room to move? Has it changed? Has the climate been arid, lush, cold or hot? Has it been a lonely road or peopled with loved ones? Have you been safe, protected or violated? When you reached a fork in the road, what did you do? Did you turn away clinging to old routes or did you venture to select the unknown path? Were you wide-eyed and open armed when the bends in your road insisted on change? What has mattered most to you? Does your life reflect what’s important to you?

You get to travel through this lifetime once. Although the way can unfold and the terrain can change dramatically by chance or by choice, to me what matters most is that the road you choose be one where your heart and soul feel belonging and freedom to reach and breathe.

Growth, for all living things, is a natural process of leaning toward light and love. Like a flower caught in the shadow of a rock, it strains upwards to find the sun. The journey is often arduous. When you have walked into enough brick walls along the way, when your inner ache overwhelms you, when your awareness tells you that you can’t go on traveling the same destructive path — then your organism quite naturally cries out for healing.

People in psychological pain rarely stand out in a crowd. They're everyday people like you and me who have families and jobs along with a strong sense that something is seriously missing in their lives. They want to be better human beings to create happier families. They want to love and be loved more effectively. They want to remove the barriers in their lives and provide more for their loved ones on every level, economically and emotionally. They are looking for ways to contribute and improve their contact skills in the world. They also want to stop repeating the same negative patterns, want their fair share of life and love, want to say something that's been eating them up inside for years, and more than anything, want to feel better about themselves. What they’re doing is reaching for health in their lives, searching for a right turn in the road.

I like to consider “exact moments of healing” as right turns in the road, life experiences that offer you a chance to enter into a new dimension of living – something deeper, more complete, more in rhythm with the beat of your heart and more fulfilling than you’ve known before. They are fitting organic responses to your human quest toward wholeness.