ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE STORY . . .
At twenty in the Veterans Hospital you were aware
of healing. It was rather vague but did you have some
understanding about what healing was?
RH: I knew the intensity of my pain. Once again I found
myself in a hospital setting, this time a Veterans
Hospital. When I participated in a group therapy process
I described my situation as a "soul sickness".
That lit up the facilitators of the group. The Veterans
Hospital that I was in at that time had an approach
to healing through medications but that approach did
not seem to help me. I also had some compliance around
the issue of my own alcoholism/drug addiction and reached
out to a twelve-step program again. This time it was
for the alcohol and drug problem but it was probably
another two years before I had any real success with
JH: You could name soul sickness. Were there specific
issues within it that you thought you were faced with?
RH: There were all sorts of life issues: relationship
issues, authority issues, job related issues. Identifying
that there was some sort of "soul sickness"
gave me a frame of reference that maybe something could
be done about it. But I didnt have any awareness
of resources or skills that would specifically make
that happen at that time.
JH: You knew there were problems but you had a sense
they could be surmounted in some ways?
RH: Yes. Actually I had been watching my parents
recovery process in a twelve-step program. I saw them
change their life dramatically from totally non-functioning
to more responsible citizens. The trouble that I was
experiencing at that time was that I was constantly
teaching my health care providers in the Veterans
Administration about alcoholism. I did not have a clue
that I also had Post Trauma Stress Disorder from the
assault in the Army or from my childhood experiences
with physical, emotional abuse, and incest. Most of
my therapeutic time was spent in attempting to educate
people about alcoholism and having grown up in an alcoholic
JH: So a big piece of the obstacles was that the
resources were not conscious of what you really needed.
They werent really available for you?
RH: Yes. In the mid seventies, I had not come across
anyone who was treating adult children of alcoholics,
trauma, incest, sexual abuse. At that point there was
ignorance about these issues. I was involved in a twelve-step
program for alcoholism and initially, but I was abstinent
by association, rather than any significant recovery
oriented efforts on my part. I did not have much in
the way of financial resources to seek out too much
help. After a number of relapses, I finally got sober
At that time I was not conscious that beliefs were being
challenged. Looking back, I can see that some fundamental
beliefs that I had developed in my childhood experiences
were being questioned. Some of those beliefs were survival
beliefs such as, "dont talk, dont feel,
dont acknowledge what is really going on."
It was the greatest challenge for me because those rules/beliefs
had helped me to survive the incest, the physical abuse,
the rape at knifepoint. A lot of the challenge at first
was unconscious until I got deeply into the12 steps
and the ACOA work. I began to see that things had happened
to me that were common to some other people and that
we all had developed some strategies for survival. And
once I had grasped that, it made a difference. When
I look back now with the insight I have, I didnt
have a clue then, but I see now that I was having normal
responses to abnormal situations. PTSD responses were
normal for the traumas I had experienced. But in society
I had been perceived as the abnormal one.
JH: Can you speak to how those beliefs were reconstructed,
some of those that you mentioned: "dont talk,
RH: I started to pick things up around twelve steps
meetings. I heard people talking about things that were
unspeakable prior to that time for me. I realized through
the mirroring that I received in those meetings that
no matter what I had done, where I had been, that I
was still a human being who was and is worthy of security,
love, recognition, and worth. It was people showing
up for me regardless, people offering genuinely from
their heart with no strings attached. They cared.
JH: And what you started to know was?
RH: I started to know that I was a human being, not
some crazy being. I had inherent worth, that I was capable
of anything, that I could make a difference in this
JH: During those difficult times, you spoke about
the external resources that were there for you. What
inside of you kept you going?
RH: There was a basic instinct for survival and a desire
for love. I also had a sort of knowing inside that said
I had come into this life to make some kind of a difference.
As I awoke more and more to myself, I was aware that
my life path was about healing and supporting others
to heal. That has been my drive for a long time. Soul
level stuff kept me going.
JH: Looking back to that first phase of walking blindfolded
with just little glimmers of light coming in to keep
you going, can you see what metaphors would represent
what came after that?
RH: The best kind of example that I could use would
be the experience of "connect the dots". I
began to connect the dot with the things that I was
finding out in reading, in workshops and different modalities
of healing. I was exposed to things like psychodrama,
Reiki, movement therapies, Alexander Technique, guided
imageries, the Therapeutic Spiral Model of Psychodrama.
I connected dots and made overlays of ideas and principles
that were common in a variety of spiritual traditions.
It was putting the pieces together of what made my life
different, sometimes one simple step at a time despite
the desire to have it all change all at once.
JH: Did you feel the blindfolds were off then?
RH: After the experience in the hotel atrium at the
conference in Princeton, yes, the blindfold was off.
Yet there was frustration because I didnt have
all the pieces of the puzzle yet. I wasnt totally
blind anymore-- I could see the puzzle, but couldnt
find all the pieces.
JH: You could connect the dots, but you couldnt
see the form that it was making? Even so, were there
some points that were epiphanies for you?
There have been a lot of epiphanies in my life. One
was being in a body-centered workshop where I had trauma
memories surface. At that point, I was being supported.
I basically went into memories of sexual assault as
a child, and ended up being able to sob, rather than
contain it one more time. I was not crazy. The person
that held me was able to let me know that they understood
about this on a deep level. And it was not about being
out of control. It was about regaining control through
sharing and feeling that which had been unsafe to feel.
Anytime I had gotten close to those feelings in the
past, I had shut down. This time it was okay to open
and release them. It made a profound difference in my
I had grown up learning to be tough and stoic. I attended
a Mens Retreat where I met a Lakota man who taught
me that tears were really about strength and not something
to hide. He taught me, "Tears contain salt. Salt
heals the wounds of the warrior."
Another epiphany was watching and working with adolescents
in a rehabilitation center. There we attempted to make
a spiritual container that allowed them to discover
themselves. Many of them did. I watched them heal when
they were supposed to be the "bad ones". These
are some of the epiphanies over the past twenty years.
Helping to create a safe environment in which people
can connect to their humanness and heal. To facilitate
a little and hold a space for people to do this work
has been incredible. And it is not just 1+1=2, it seems
as though its 1+1=73. It would just keep expanding
right before my eyes. The strength of spirit at work