If You’ve Got a Moment, I’ve Got a Vivid, Articulate Account of One Mind Seeking to Set Itself Aright to Share With You

When the theme of your lifework is “changing things by changing thinking,” you have the opportunity to take ringside seats to a lot of people’s personal odysseys. Nothing is more fascinating. When you can, and where you can, you provide an idea, a caution, a suggestion. Usually, though, they’ve already thought of it or received it from somewhere else, because, as I’ve often noted, the kinds of things that interest me and the kinds of personal development activities that I study and write and talk about aren’t usually of interest to dull, unobservant people.

It’s not at all unheard of for the individuals who permit me an unusual degree of access to what they are thinking and feeling and doing to be articulate and introspective—and very good writers. And write they often do. What follows is excerpted from a long e-mail (one of many I’ve received from this person over the years) that narrates the travails of an individual I’d judge as “stuck in Mind Level 6.” Level 6, for any of my readers not conversant with the Clare-Gravesian-based model I’ve explored in a number of books, is the Big Kahuna of Healing stages, where one gets one’s psychological act together, or one doesn’t. I have the writer’s permission to invite you to my ringside seat, believing that there is much in what she’s experienced and experiencing that will strike a familiar chord to many. And that her travelogue will be as fascinating to others as it was to me.

I’ve been on the most interesting adventure. I wrote you some of it, midstream, the processing of the end of that disastrous [love] affair. But that was a component of a larger search for the answer to the question: what’s wrong with me?

Years ago, when I came to the training, you looked at some of my scores and said, “If some of you could just get your left brain working as well as your right brain, you could change the world.” And that statement, as well as so many other of your writings and comments, has stayed with me. When I started the company, I had to learn how to protect it so I could pay all my salaries, and that was a left-brain stimulating experience. In fact, in owning the company, I became more comfortable with the whole idea of ruthlessness, taking responsibilities for risks, for what you might cost other people in getting something accomplished, for taking responsibility for action on the material plane in general.

But this love affair challenged me on a different level. It surfaced all my identity weakness, my need to obtain outside validation to know I exist, my uncertainty about my own value on so many levels. I think he was a sociopath. That’s a tough thing to say about someone else. But with everything I’ve read, I think it’s true. And he targeted me because I had money, was nurturing, trusting, and almost pathologically without defenses. And I got what you get from people like that — the big charming seduction and then, when you’re locked in, the relentless denegation and remorseless exploitation. The thing is, I couldn’t get out of it. I had some kind of addictive connection with him.

Well, when I finally found the wherewithal to get him away from me after five years, I was a kind of husk. No trust in myself anymore. No self-esteem left at all. I’d been listening to all the reasons I was unlovable for five years. And the truth is — I don’t even know if he was as bad as I remember, because something about just completely whacked out my perspectives. There was some element I desperately needed from a relationship that I wasn’t getting, and something in me just dropped down into the red zone and stayed there.

So when he left, I just made up my mind to figure out what’s wrong with me. I’m two years into it. One year I did on my own, the second with a therapist. In just the last few months, we’ve finally gotten down into the incest stuff, where it becomes clear that this guy was just a kind of molded plastic wrapper around my father. And I’m facing the reality that something happened to me, someone did it to me, and that person didn’t care about how it came out for me or how much of my life was being destroyed.

It sounds awful, and it is. But from the first time in my life, I’m standing in my own shoes and seeing what’s outside me as clearly outside me. Things happened that are not about me. They affected me but I didn’t cause them. There are people who, whatever they are when they’re not monsters, are monsters sometimes. And if I’m dealing with a monster, it doesn’t who matter who they are otherwise. It’s not my job to fix them or understand them or do anything at all but protect myself and get away. Does all this makes sense?

My boundaries were so blown that I didn’t know the difference between outside and inside. It made me incredibly open and interactive and intuitive and perceptive. It made me a kind of saint. (And I might have been just fine as a saint, if I’d never owned anything.) But I had no grounded sense of being inside myself. No firm identity as separate from everything else.

I was reading your questions in the first chapter [of The Mother of All Minds]. I’m learning all the left-brain levels at once. Survival, Fastest Gun, Entrepreneur. It’s so weird to have all of this emerge at my age (57). I’m learning anger. Resistance. I’m tossing people away. Sometimes I’m so self-centered in my viewpoints that I don’t know if I should be celebrating or trying to shrink myself back to size. And I fear that I’m losing some of that lovely New Age airiness of mind I used to have, in favor of something a lot harder and more grounded. I feel the loss, but hope that it will all settle down eventually.

The really peculiar part of this, Dudley, is that I read my old journals and letters, and I discover that there is nothing I’m learning that I didn’t know. Nothing new in me. It’s just that it’s moving from words to belief to action. I’m still in the interstice between belief and action, emerging slowly from two years of solitude and relative inaction. I even quit working for six months from last spring until shortly after Christmas. Now I’m just gradually re-entering the marketplace.

It’s very hard starting over again. I knew when I began this that I had to excavate my way down to where it began with my father, when I was 13. And I suspected that when I got there, I would uncover a part of myself that had been deeply buried. That I would have to pick up from there, as a teenager, and somehow grow it up to work in my life now. I had faith that it would grow up quickly, because I have so much experience to feed it. I also thought it might be hard. And it is much harder than I thought it would be. There’s an adolescent quality in my thinking, a rigidity to my idealism combined with a social awkwardness. It may always have been there, but I feel it now very sharply.

In all of this, there is a odd sense of not becoming anything new, but becoming myself. That in the end, there will be nothing that wasn’t there before, but I will not be constantly stumbling over the knots in myself. I didn’t realize how much of a presence depression and anxiety were in my life. And how much of my life was dedicated to managing around them.

I’m trying to write a book about it. I’ve written reams of letters to people during the process. Sometimes I thought that I wouldn’t live through it, and would just die of sadness. But at least I would leave the letters behind. I think what I’m writing about is recovering from what incest does. But I’m also writing about a journey that started with the realization that, if I didn’t change my life, I was going to die never having owned it or done what I really wanted.

I think I’ve gotten pretty well along in the process of taking my life back, owning it finally. Now, I have to figure out what I really want. And that’s a process in itself.

I am surrounded by the material environment of the way I was. I own so much stuff, bought to make myself feel better. At least I’ve learned now that pain is just a messenger, and what needs to be cured is the source of the pain. I live in a house with a $2200 a month mortgage payment that I bought to house my various human appendages, now all gone. I love the house, but the mortgage is an albatross. My work in PR is intrinsically dysfunctional, if I can put it that way, dealing with massive egos who barely understand what I do and regard the attention I bring them as merely their just due. Just clearing it all away is a task like Hercules cleaning the stables.
Overwhelming, and I sometimes think of just burning it all down and beginning life again with whatever I could stuff in the back of my car.

I wish, I wish, I wish I could find a way to just teach people to think and speak and write, aligned with who they are and what they want. People who really want to learn, to accomplish something in their lives. I watch for clues about the direction I should go. And I keep working on this project of mine, because I’m still not quite ready for prime time. Still too easy to anger, too defensive and untrusting. It will settle down.

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