I grew up as the only daughter among brothers. My relationship with my mother was very difficult and as a result I identified more with the masculine. I was a tomboy. I did play with dolls, but often my dolls were bad and I had to beat them. These patterns plus my astrological makeup did not make for much feminine energy in my early life. I was surprised in my twenties to hear that people experienced me as being very feminine. This observation baffled me. If I didn’t trust them, I wouldn’t have believed it. That was how out of my awareness this possibility was. There were many crossroads in this masculine/feminine split that taught me a lot. When I joined Yokefellow, after a few months the co-leaders of my group separated their practice. This unexpected event threw the whole community into all sorts of chaos and projections. We each had to choose–were we going to continue with a male therapist or the female therapist? What an evocative dilemma! For me, it was a no-brainer, as I would never feel safe enough to choose to stay with a woman. I was so uncomfortable with the feminine that I had denounced any feminine aspect of my personality. When I entered therapy, they had wisely instructed me to spend time with women. I don’t mean to say that I had no women in my life; I had many female friends. The quality of these friendships, however, was very limited. I had trouble staying present with my female friends and was known to disconnect, no one home, bye-bye. And accordingly, men were overly important in my life.

By being instructed to develop relationships with women, my most core pathological pattern was brought to the surface more than a year later. I had introduced a male and a female friend to each other. They had become very very close and as a result, I became triggered. I felt abandoned by the man. With the safety and support of my therapeutic community, I uncovered and navigated through my most unconscious issue regarding gender, which was really uncovering the triangulation I had experienced with my parents. Letting go of control was not my strength. In order to uncover deep unconscious issues one has to be able to let go of control. Somehow, with the set up and the support of these people, I gathered the courage to be out of control. By being willing to face this situation that left me heartbroken, I was able to begin to heal the greatest delusion that I had been living under. By working through the heartbreak regarding Steve, I was able to see that the true heartbreak was the loss of the feminine. This revealed a reversal that had run my life.  My lack of connection with my mother had created an excessive alliance with my father. And this pattern reverberating throughout my life. What a revelation.

Prior to this breakthrough I had given birth to my daughter. Hearing the words, “It’s a girl,” I remember being terrified by blatant inadequacy at the thought of raising a female child.  Severe postpartum depression during her first day of life reflected that. Fortunately, the depression was short-lived; and it receded as we bonded. The bonding we experience was clearly mutual. Fortunately, she was young when I completed this triangulation work. Thank goodness for that. How do people raise children without all the support I have been fortunate enough to find?

After integrating the teaching from the triangulation work at Yokefellow, my relationships with my women friends became much more significant. My relationships with men, on the other hand, became more normalized. I would like to introduce three of the champion women from those days who I have contact with on a daily basis:

Anna-I met Anna during my first group at Yokefellow. We shared a home group, we were the original “homies.”  When I arrived in my home group, it was an auspicious time, as Anna had just “come out from under the blanket.” It was like a timeline of where in the process Anna was with her courageous unveiling. Remember, this was not a typical group. We plunged deeply into the unconscious in order to liberate ourselves. Anna and I became fast friend. The trademark of our friendship was deep belly laughter. This lightheartedness allowed us to journey beyond our limitations. Probably because of the work she was able to do, Anna has been my greatest champion for me to find my Power and my voice. There have been times in both of our lives where we have been totally and unselfishly there for each other and continue to be so today.

Diana–when Diana and I first met in 1980, she was looking for a roommate situation. There was such a disparity between our personalities that the temperature was luke warm between us. With a nudge from Anna, Diana was encouraged to pursue the friendship with me. Eric had just moved out and Casey and I were a strong twosome. Diana moved into our apartment and it worked. After some time, Sid and Cranston edged in and we were a fivesome. Diana and Cranston played music until late in the night and Casey and I were known to boogie to “Salty Dog.” For a challenging time in our lives (but nothing like the future would bring) there was much lightness and harmony. Soon after being roommates, Diana moved to Rome and it wasn’t until many years later we reconnected. I introduced Diana and Cranston to Werner Ehrhardt’s work. Diana and I continued to bond, but there was subtle  friction not uncommon in friendships with women. Despite this, we continue to maintain a strong connection. When David and Mark entered our lives, I remember meeting at La Madeleine Restaurant and realizing that they were both from the Midwest. Diana commented, “oh great, we’re going to have to listen to them talk about tractors.” From that moment on we became a foursome that would create much synergy: socially, psychologically, and spiritually. We essentially became a family, a family that shared everything, birthdays, anniversaries, devastating diagnoses, celebrations and tragedies. As the bonding began to mature, I can remember being in a parking lot with Diana and arguing and crying with each other until we got to a resolution. This marked something that few relationships can weather. When Katrina was nearing New Orleans, since our horse farm was on high ground, Diane and Mark arrived with cases of water, food from the freezer, two cats, and all of Diana’s immediate family from New Orleans. That experience catapulted our connection to a totally different level. We were no longer friends, we were clearly soul family. With their influence, I joined the gospel choir and they encouraged me to open my throat, which set much in motion about letting my voice be heard. When I was diagnosed, and then Mark was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, we shared the ultimate heartbreak together. My last words to Mark in Austin, Texas, the day before he passed was, “I know I will be with you in my soul family group and we will be together.” He affirmed what I said and from where he sat, he knew. After his passing, Diana and I spoke on the phone nightly for hours for the next year. And when my illness progressed and I couldn’t use the telephone anymore, Diana and I Skyped almost daily. I have no friend who could reach down into our hearts the way she and I can and speak from pure Love. There is something about being in the trenches together that is the purifying.

Alexandria–My closest friend who I referred to as a soul twin is also my administrator for this blog and has had my back probably since the day we met. Alex was in pre-vet when I was interested in returning to school in premed. While studying science together we shared a fascination with obscure forms of parasites and learned the genus and the species as well as their unusual presentations. With a competitive edge, we tried to one up each other with the details of their gross presentations in human bodies. Our love of competition stimulated some pretty energetic racquetball games. We were evenly matched and played for hours. During the later years, I introduced Alex to breathwork.  I remember the specific telephone conversation about breathwork with her as I began shaking uncontrollably. It became clear to both of us that we would share this path as well. I was with Alex when the old woman originally made her appearance.  Alex is a brilliant and insightful woman who early on had a tendency to become out of balance with her intellect. While she was in graduate school she was confronted by one of her most challenging teachers-chronic fatigue syndrome. This was one challenge she could not think her way out of. Her transformation into her heart during these years was profound. And when my physical symptoms began to take hold, Alex understood illness from the inside out. Of course Alex suggested the tool of a WordPress blog when I expressed interest in writing. I just have to quote what she wrote to me  yesterday and I don’t need to say anymore: “I will always have your back Aliyah. Always and no matter what.” To Alex and to me, it is clear that our connection is way beyond our limited understanding of what is seen.

It is beyond my comprehension to imagine navigating this limited reality without the help and helpers I have found along the way. I am forever grateful to these women, to my children and to all the other teachers and students I have had in my life. And I know you know who you are.