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Mary’s Talk at the October 27, 2018 Group Session

“The Power of Perception”

Saturday, October 27, 2018 (Group/Hinsdale, New Hampshire)

Participants: Mary (Michael), Ann (Vivette), Bonnie (Lyla), Brigitt (Camile), Denise (Azura), John (Rrussell), John H. (Lonn), Kyla (Amie), Lisa, Lynda (Ruther), Sandra (Atafah), Tariq (Jessik) and Val (Atticus).

MARY: So, the first thing – and this can go out to everybody – is that I want to say thank you to everybody for all of their support and love and help that everybody gave this summer when I was so sick and when I had to have the surgery, and everybody has been so amazingly wonderful.

It’s a very weird experience. It’s like… I don’t think most people have this kind of experience in their life, where it’s kind of like the real-life version of It’s a Wonderful Life. You know, where you just… you have this perception of yourself, and then you see all this outpouring of stuff from other people and it doesn’t match. It doesn’t match what your own perception of yourself is. And it feels very surreal and strange. And it’s also a little bit hard to take in, because it’s like your brain – or my brain – keeps going in the direction of “This can’t be real.” (Laughs) “This can’t be what people really think or feel." And then it tries to do these tricks with me, which it’s been doing my whole life, where my brain starts going in the direction of “Yeah, well that’s just because they don’t know me. If they really knew me they wouldn’t do this.”

But actually, I think that most of you know me pretty good. I mean, at least you know who I am now, and I think I’m kind of somewhat transparent in that part of who I am now. So, I think my brain just hasn’t caught up yet with what has transpired and the experience that I’ve had. But it is really amazing.

I also wanted to share with you, after I got out of the hospital I made a decision to start seeing a counselor. And before anybody gets any questions in their brain, the reason that I decided that is because I think when I decided to quit smoking in May, I think I opened a huge can of worms that was going in the direction of dealing with and addressing to anything that is not healthy or that is an obstacle for me or that holds me back. I had no idea that I was going to do it in such a big, dramatic way.

I started with the physical things. I quit smoking – not that I was actually thinking any of this out, because I wasn’t, just I started to become aware of it as it started to happen. But I quit smoking, and then you know, as we all know, then I got sick with my diverticulitis and that went off the charts. And then that ended up leading me in the direction of the surgery. But the surgery, as horrific as it was, it fixed it, and I don’t have to worry about that anymore and I don’t have to deal with it anymore. It’s gone. So that is something that cleared something out in a big way. And I mean, I’ve been dealing with that for years and years and years, and it’s gone now. Which I’m still kind of a little bit adjusting to, because for so many years I was being so careful, especially with what I eat and things like that, and I don’t have to do that anymore, which is kind of awesome. It’s kind of cool. But that was a big clearing out.

I also have had a lot of time to think about the experience that I had with that surgery and in the hospital. And I don’t think that the things that happened there were accidents, either. I think that them having to revive me twice wasn’t an accident. I think I probably was… I think that was part of a clearing out. Not that I’ve ever gone in the direction of being suicidal; I never have, my whole life. I’ve never entertained those kinds of thoughts or feelings or anything. But I think it was more of a choice of “Do you want to keep going down this road? Because it’s going to be rough. Or do you not want to go down this road?” And I think the choice was that I want to go down this road, even though it’s going to be rough.

And so when I got out of the hospital I also made a decision to start seeing a counselor, because I realized that there are some things in my life that have to do with trauma, big traumas that I can’t get past by myself. But I know I’ve done a lot of work in those directions already; I just need a little help to get over the last hurdle with them. And the reason I chose what I chose is because yes, I could go through the dead guy like you guys do, but I would have to do that by proxy. And that wouldn’t really work, because I need to actually be talking to someone to be able to get this all out. This is a big piece of it for me, because the trauma that I have experienced in my life between two and twenty-five or twenty-eight, I have never spoken of. I have never shared with anyone. My own children don’t know. It has been a big throw-that-all-in-the-vault. Actually I, as some of you know, I didn’t even remember any of it until about ten years ago. I had some breakthrough about ten years ago, and I got flooded with memories. But up until then, I didn’t even remember any of it. It was as if I didn’t exist before that age.

But even in having all the memories now, the memories are separated from the feelings. I either have feelings with no memory, or I have memories with no feelings. They don’t go together, which is probably a protective safeguard that my own brain has done over the years or when things actually happened.

But I have come to a realization with this decision to be seeing this counselor that my experiences weren’t usual. For most of my life, even when I remembered everything I’ve had this perception that everyone of my age, everyone in my generation, experienced similar things, that their child raising, their childhoods, their adolescence, their young adulthood was probably all very similar, it was probably all the same because the culture was a certain way when I was a kid. But I have come to find out that that isn’t true, that the things that went on in my childhood and as I was growing up are the things that they play in the news once in a while when they find children that have been kidnapped and placed in horrific conditions and are tortured or are captive. Those are the kinds of things that I experienced on a regular basis through my childhood.

I could not talk about those things to another person and have them talk to Elias about it. Besides which, I needed to be able to actually speak those things out to someone and say the words of things that happened, because it’s very different when you think about things and when you actually say it out loud.

And one of the reasons that I never shared anything with anybody before – beyond that I didn’t remember anything – but when I did remember, I couldn’t. Whatever that experience of trauma is, whatever it does inside of you – which I’m not 100% sure what it does – but whatever it does, my own body would react so strongly if I tried to share something that I would shake so badly my teeth would chatter and I wouldn’t be able to speak. So, I just never did it. I just stopped. I was like, “Okay, we just won’t ever talk about this stuff.” And I thought for a good long time in this ten years that well, that was then, this is now, and I know the difference and I’m not crazy, so I guess that maybe I don’t need to address all that stuff. Maybe I can just lock it up and say, “Okay. Whatever.”

But there have been some things that I can’t get past, that do influence me, some sort of associations that I’ve been trying to deal with for years. And I’ve used everything that I could possibly think of that Elias talks about and it just doesn’t work, because they’re locked in there in a vault and I can’t get past them.

So I figured, "All right, this is something that I need somebody else to help me with to get beyond this." I don’t figure I’m going to be dealing with this counselor for very long, because to her astonishment I seem to be moving pretty quickly and getting some real realizations and revelations really fast. But like I said, I think I’ve been doing a lot of work for the last twenty years and I just haven’t… this is like the last step in that department.

One of the things I recently – I shared with Ann the other day – but I recently realized in a way that made me really think about so many other people, so many of you that have talked about not being good enough or not feeling your own worth or not feeling deserving or feeling like whatever you do, it’s wrong. And I’ve heard those words from other people for twenty-three years, and I hear it a lot. And I personally didn’t really… I wasn’t relating to it through my own experience or through my own feelings, but mind you, I have learned how to turn my feelings off from the time I was a very small child. So, even though I started turning them back on about ten years ago, there’s a lot of them I’m not real familiar with even yet. And there’s a lot of them I don’t pay attention to yet, but I’m starting to.

I had a kind of a breakthrough which was fascinating to me, about how strong perception is. It’s like crazy, wicked strong. I just had no idea how incredibly strong perception is and how real it is. This was an experience that just took me over the edge. In fact, so much so I thought I WAS crazy. I told my counselor, I said, “Okay, I think I’ve finally snapped. Everything has caught up with me and now I’m officially crazy, because I have snapped.” I said, “Because I had an interaction with my daughter the other day, and I reacted to her for no reason,” I said. “And not only did I react to her, but I heard myself do it, I heard what I was saying, I heard HOW I was saying it, and it was like somebody else was talking, not me. It was like I was actually thinking different while I was spewing. I’m like, “I’ve never had that experience before.” I’m like, “It was like there were two me’s happening. There was one that was spewing out this stuff, and then there was the one like in a lucid dream that was watching myself do it and going ‘Shut up!’ It’s like ‘Oh my god! Stop talking! Just shut up!’ And I didn’t shut up.”

And then I went into some sort of semi-rational explanation for what I was spewing, which I was still thinking, “Who is this talking? Just shut your mouth and stop talking!” But I kept talking and I didn’t shut up, and it turned into my daughter being very upset and going, “Why are you doing this?” And then me spewing out this ridiculous, lame rationalization: “Well, I’ve been telling you that I’m working on trying to deal with yelling or when people have a tone of voice, and I get really easily triggered by all of that.”

And then I got met with, “Well, NOW I have a tone of voice. I didn’t have one before, but NOW I do because now I’m pissed and now I'm going to yell at you.” And I was like, “And I know that, and I don’t know why I’m saying these things!” It was crazy. It was really bizarre.

It felt like there was something else in me that was talking and like I was channeling something, only I was aware of it. It was so bizarre. It was creepy, and I really did think that I was going crazy.

And it ended up being strangely… we ended up talking it out, and it was fine. And it didn’t last very long, which was another bizarre point, because from beginning to end it was only a half an hour, which was bizarre, because usually it would be hours and hours and hours, and it wasn’t.

And the next day, something that my counselor had said the week before popped back into my head, about her saying, “Well, it’s no wonder that you have an issue with people that yell or that have an angry tone of voice or whatever because of your parents and what you experienced when you were hit and da-da-da.” And I had said to her at the time, “This isn’t making sense to me, and this is not ringing...it’s not resonating with me.” I said, “My parents never yelled at me. Not once.” And I said, “Neither of them. They didn’t yell at me or my sister. They yelled at each other, in another room, but they never yelled at us.” I said, “So, that isn’t… Something is missing here.” And I said, “I don’t know why I have this problem when I don’t have an association with someone yelling.”

And in fact, it was the opposite: When something really bad was going to happen, everybody got very quiet and very measured in how they spoke. And THAT was what was scary, was no yelling and screaming, no craziness, no going mental. It was all very calculated and quiet and frightening.

And I realized that I had somehow created a perception, that I had somehow created my own trigger. You know how Elias talks about triggers that could be anything: a scent, a movement, a color. It could be anything that your senses connect to, and then you have a trigger because it connects to a memory. I think what I did was make my own trigger of tone of voice or yelling, that that was my signal that the other person is agreeing with me. And what they’re agreeing with is that I already believe that everything I am doing is wrong, that somehow I’m bad, everything I’m doing is wrong or it could be better, and that is my signal of validation and that’s why it paralyzes me, because it’s like, “Yep. There it is. It’s true. This is it. This is who you are.”

Which is why it was so hard for me to accept genuinely this tremendous outpouring towards me when I was sick, because why would anybody do that if you’re always wrong? If you’re bad and you’re always wrong and everything you do is wrong, people shouldn’t like you. And no matter how much I have listened to that with other people and talked to them and told them over the years that’s not true, it didn’t sink in with me. But that’s because I didn’t even know that it was there. I didn’t know that that was the association that I was making.

It started to register with me when I realized, "That’s what that feeling is. Whenever I freeze, that’s why I’m freezing." Because the feeling is fear because I’m wrong and I’m bad, and bad things are going to happen because I’m wrong, and this is really bad. And the bad things that happen are really bad and that they can be even life-threatening, so it’s REALLY bad.

I think that that was a huge realization, not only for me for myself, but it really gave me a new insight into other people, not only in relation to them thinking that they’re wrong or that they’re bad or they can’t do anything right or that they don’t deserve things, but also in what they do much more frequently or obviously, in that they can’t accept a compliment. That when you say something nice to them or you tell them that you care about them or you tell them that they’re good at something, they shy away and they make excuses and they say, “Oh, I’m not that bright,” or “It’s not that big of a deal. It’s not that good,” or “I didn’t do it myself,” or all kinds of things. They deflect so fast, so automatically, you very rarely hear someone very quickly and automatically say, “Thank you. I know! Wasn’t that great?” (Group laughter) They don’t. People don’t do that very much. I mean, you might hear them do it rarely, but you don’t hear it very often.

And that started to really hit home to me, because I know I’ve been doing it my whole life. I am pretty awesome at some things. I mean, I’m pretty artistic and I do some pretty nice work, and it’s worth noting, and it’s worth people seeing it and praising it. And a lot of work goes into it, and a lot of love and energy goes into what I do. And I, up until now, have been notorious for doing the same thing everybody else does: “Yeah, well, it’s not that great. I can see the flaws in this one.” (Group laughter) “It’s not perfect,” or “Thanks, but…”

And it’s like I started to really realize well, that’s just stupid. I mean, why? What I do IS good, and why CAN’T people care about me? And why can’t people love me? And that isn’t fake. It isn’t that they’re all delusional. Believe me, I have thought that, and my daughter has reinforced it with me, because her experience with me is something completely different. She’s been on this earth for forty-four years, and her experience with me the way I am now has only been for the last maybe seventeen or eighteen of those forty-four years. She has a whole history before that.

I have made no secret of it that I was definitely not a stellar parent. And I was a single parent, and I was not a stellar parent by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t abuse them, but I was emotionally unavailable to them also. I was not a good parent. I didn’t have any tools. I don’t beat myself up for that, because I know I didn’t have any examples of being a good parent; I didn’t even know what that meant. So, how was I going to know how to be a good parent? I didn’t. And I don’t excuse that in myself, but I also don’t beat myself up for it.

But now, in the last, I’d say the last thirty years of my life, not just for the last twenty-three years with Elias, but I was already starting to go in different directions before this started with Elias. And I was starting to really pay attention to myself and things that I was doing, and why was I doing this or that. I mean, because I was… My counselor says, “It’s amazing that you’re as normal as you are.” And I’m like, “Well, I wasn’t for a while. I would say for the first thirty, thirty-five years of my life I was pretty screwed up. I was a pretty big mess. And yeah, you didn’t want to know me then. I was pretty bad."

I couldn’t help but be a screwed-up mess, I mean, because of what I had experienced. I’m amazed that I’m as normal as I am. (Laughs) But I worked hard at it, and it’s not something that… I suppose you make a choice. You can either turn into a sociopath, or you can go in a different direction and try and make yourself better, and try and move in a direction in which your life doesn’t suck. That’s what I chose to do, go in a direction to try and make my life not suck. If I’m going to have to be here, let’s try to make it not be so sucky (group laughter) and make it like somewhere happy.

And I think I’ve been getting there, in increments. And this was the last step in that. Eventually I imagine I will be able to be open with other people and share my experiences, especially if I am interactive with someone who is sharing pretty horrific experiences with me. I can relate, and I can probably, going forward, be able to be more connected and more understanding of other people’s experiences from a REAL perspective, not an intellectual perspective – which is pretty cool.

Actually, my counselor said she was worried that we’re doing this trauma work, and she was like, “This actually does alter things in your brain, like physically.” She was like, “So, I just want to make sure that you are okay with that, because what if it affects how you do what you do for work?” And I was like, “Well, I don’t think it will, but if it does, it probably will just make it better or make it clearer or make another change where the volume of energy gets bigger.” And I said, “So, I’m not real worried about that.” But she was still worried about it, and so she was like, “But what if that does happen?” I said, “Well, if it does happen, then I’ll stop talking to you.” And I said, “And I won’t come here anymore, because that’s too important to me.” And I said, “If it goes in that direction, then okay, it can all go in the vault and stay there until I die.” And I said, “I just will be as happy as I can be with it all in the vault.” And I said, “I don’t want to do that. I want it to be out of the vault and I want it to be gone so that I can be a normal person, just be relaxed and drop it all and stop carrying around all this weight.”

My indicator that I’m still carrying around weight is memories, that they keep coming up, that randomly I have flashes of experiences. Well, they’re obviously still there and I’m still carrying them around if I keep flashing them to myself randomly, for no reason. I don’t have to get triggered; they just pop up by themselves. I don’t even NEED a trigger. They’re just there.

So, hopefully this step will put them to rest in a way that they don’t keep popping up, which I do have some evidence of already. And some of the memories that were really horrific that were very consistently popping up randomly have stopped. And if I think of them intentionally, I don’t… there’s no charge with them anymore, so I’m not experiencing them.

But what’s fascinating about that is this perception piece, that when I had this interaction with my daughter, my ears were hearing that she didn’t have a tone. A piece of me was actually aware, for the first time, that she didn’t have a tone of voice. She was saying something. She was making a comment to me. She had no tone of voice, nothing. I immediately interpreted it as her having a tone, even though I was aware that I didn’t hear one. Now that’s the first time that’s ever happened, which is why I thought I was crazy, because I was hearing one thing but my perception was so strong and so real that what I was hearing wasn’t real, what I was hearing wasn’t right. What I was perceiving was the real thing, but what I was actually hearing wasn’t.

Then later I thought, “Oh, crap! What if I’ve been hearing that tone for all these years and she’s never actually even had one?” THAT was kind of frightening. I don’t think it’s that black and white. I think she does have a tone a lot of times, but I think there’s probably a lot of times when she doesn’t and I’m translating it that she does anyway.

Because it’s just all one blur, it’s just all what I expect. So because it’s what I expect, that’s what I hear. My senses reinforce it, and that’s huge. To know that your perception is that strong that it can make something real that isn’t actually even happening, it’s like, “Woah! Okay. That’s crazy.” We are wicked strong. We are some powerful beings, if we can do that , because we make it real, even if it… It BECOMES real even if it didn’t start out that way. It’s like wow, that’s crazy.

And that to me is as nuts and as strong as making an apple appear in your hand, because you’re making something happen that isn’t happening. And all your senses are telling you it IS happening, but it isn’t happening. It’s like, “Woah! Okay, there’s that apple. I guess I actually made one, didn’t I?” (Laughs) Everybody’s been trying to make that apple for twenty years. I bet we all are making it all the time (group laughter) and we just don’t know it. It’s like, “Woah! How did THAT happen?” It’s pretty crazy.

But I think that it’s really encouraging now—now that I’m past thinking that I’m nuts—NOW I think it’s really encouraging because if I can get past some of this stuff, there’s no limit to what people can do. There really isn’t. People can do anything. You can all do anything. If I can do it, then forget about it. (Group laughter) Yeah, it’s like a cakewalk. (Laughs)

So, I wanted to share all of that with you guys this time (applause) because it is important. And thanks! I’m not going to say it wasn’t a big deal. It IS a big deal, and thanks.

GROUP: You deserve it.

MARY: Thank you. (Applause) And I don’t think I’m going anywhere any time soon. If I didn’t go after that surgery, I’m not going. (Laughs)

(Group applause and chatter)

It’s kind of good that I didn’t remember any of it anyway. (Group laughter) It’s kind of cool when you check out and you don’t know that you did, because you don’t remember any of it anyway. (Laughs) So, you just come back like nothing happened.

But yeah. And I’m doing good.

GROUP: You look great.

MARY: Thank you.

GROUP: (Applause) Hey look, she took a compliment!

MARY: That’s also something that my counselor told me, that you know when you’re really making headway when you do things, when your behavior changes automatically, when you don’t have to think about it first, or when you just automatically… which I’ve seen several of my own behaviors change in the last few weeks automatically that I noticed afterwards. And I was like, “Oh! That’s weird. I didn’t do this before. I did do this.” And I didn’t think about it, it just automatically happened. So it’s cool. Things are working. But I wanted to be encouraging to everybody else, too.

GROUP: Thank you. (Applause)

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