When I was 15-years-old I began a journey of escape from my own insides that included sex, drugs and alcohol but also a perfectionistic relational style constructed to build a protective wall around my soul that prevented deep intimacy. My chosen patterns would last decades and became the primary obstacle to my lifelong quest for nourishment of my soul.
It was a thirst I could not escape.
I wrestled spiritually and psychologically in a sort of functional holding pattern until my late 40’s, and the thirst for something transcendent never abated. I did not know how to be real; walking as a ghost upon the earth. I covered the darkness with religion, a frenzy of activity, accomplishments, and alcohol.
The soul waits to be discovered, because without it nothing truly satisfies.
My husband and I had immersed our family in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement which provided a source of direction that became progressively and insidiously oppressive and demanding. I was vulnerable to this cult mentality because I had lost touch with my internal compass and needed a source of authority to tell me how to live. This only exacerbated my dissociation from my true self and I was blind to the internalized oppression inherent in the patriarchal system. I had allowed my femininity, intuition and spirituality to be smothered by someone else’s view of how I should live. From the outside, it appeared I had it all together. But I was miserable. Buried under decades of shame, unconscious fears, and estrangement from my true self, I still had a glowing ember of hope for something different; something more.
I had to accept that many of my assumptions about life were incorrect.
The resulting journey of the last 15 years has been a roller coaster ride. I admitted that I was a survivor of sexual abuse, that my drinking had become uncontrollable and that my marriage was based upon immature, harmful assumptions and expectations. My husband and I nearly divorced, being separated for 8 months and then slowly, tentatively attempting to create something different from the wreckage. He was my high school sweetheart, and we had failed to grow together in healthy ways. Today, we have been married 36 years and have discovered a deep intimacy that I never thought was possible. We continue to challenge one another in love.
For me, the wisdom of both psychology and spirituality seem to be the alchemy that best heals my soul. I have been a client in psychotherapy with a wide variety of practitioners for most of the last 10 years, and I have wrestled with my addictions, the ways that I hide, and both relational and sexual trauma. While I am a trauma-informed psychotherapist, I also consider myself an authentic spiritual guide. It is not that I have achieved or arrived at anything, except for the humble realization that we are all on this journey together and I can only accompany you as far as I have been willing to go myself.
Trauma that is inflicted in relationship is only healed within relationship, and so we embark upon a journey together. In relationship.
While I still struggle at times, I have developed the capacity to feel a wider spectrum of human emotion, and I am less reactive and more responsive. I can usually choose my behaviors with intention from a deep place within my spirit. My meditation practice has cultivated a vivid awareness and increasingly I know who I am and what gives my life meaning. This self-awareness enables me to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships. It is like going from black and white to color; entering a fourth dimension of reality.
I did not disregard nor obliterate the pain – it is part of the tapestry.
The mystical journey is of primary importance to me, and I am informed by both the Contemplative Christian and Tibetan Buddhist (Vajrayana) traditions. Experientially, nature and relationships are my teachers. I often retreat to the Rocky Mountains where I feel most alive. I spend lots of time with my eight wonderful children, their partners and my two grandchildren. My favorite activities are hiking or downhill skiing cradled in the awesome majesty of the mountains. I also enjoy listening to music, swimming, yoga and lifting weights, which cultivate embodiment, inspire me, and remind me of my calling. While there are some who have achieved spontaneous instantaneous enlightenment, and I do believe it can happen, for most of us it is a lifelong process.
Renée’s Education, Training,
Master of Arts, Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology
Naropa University, Boulder CO
Completing 3-year training
Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute
Noeticus Counseling Center and Training
ASIST – Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
OK Corral Series, Basic Weekend Seminar
Survivors of Abuse Leadership Training
Open Hearts Ministry
School of Spiritual Direction
New Way Ministries