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“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor FranklTragedy

At the age of thirty-five, I was raising two children, struggling in my marital relationship and at an impasse regarding my career. I wanted to practice as a psychotherapist, but was seemingly stuck in a Catch-22; in order to attain licensure I needed to secure professional supervision in a job I could not secure without my state license. I felt like I was in a vice and could not move forward. I remember walking out to my deck and desperately screaming to God, the Universe, to anyone who would listen, “Please let something change. I would do anything to get through this hopelessness.”

It was soon after that that the subtlest neurological symptoms began to appear in my body. I was able to stave off major anxiety until my husband returned home for the holidays, and then I lost it completely into a state of high anxiety. It was as if I could immediately imagine the outcome of the illness, with all of the devastating limitations. Either I remembered the pre-birth planning of this possible challenge, or the option that terrified me more, my greatest fear would be realized-catastrophic illness. After all, I had heard the new age theory that thoughts become reality. If the latter option would manifest, I would be riddled with shame and helplessness. I desperately sought any strategy or support that would render me innocent, innocent from ruining my mission in life to help change the world into a better place, innocent from abandoning my children when they most needed me, and innocent from disregarding the life I had been given. With this shame riddled process, debilitating anxiety was assured.

In retrospect, I can see how all of my self-hatred was being brought to the surface to be dealt with. I lost thirty pounds that I could not afford. However, I was also completely present to my process of plunging into the depths of my soul. My meditations were rich with instructive symbols and messages. I knew that if I didn’t move forward, I would die. I could now see that I didn’t incarnate to merely tread water. Despite constant anxiety attacks, I secured a job with a community mental health clinic as a psychotherapist. In addition to being a therapist by day, I would assess after-hour emergencies, many of which were people surviving suicide attempts or dramatic circumstances. In the midst of my own crisis, I remember telling my friend and colleague that I could not become suicidal, because I would have to call myself. My humor has been a tremendous gift throughout this ordeal. In the midst of facing my greatest fear in life, I was able to detach enough to also be a witness to the process.

Having been raised in an atheistic, though culturally Jewish family, there was no God in my house. However, I had always felt a deep, spiritual connection to nature and animals, recognizing these connections as greater than how they appeared on the surface. This Knowing of the interconnectedness expanded to include humans while I was in intensive group therapy in my thirties. At this critical time, this spiritual connection became internalized. Perhaps this ordeal was necessary to trust my inner Guidance above all else, in order to ascend spiritually for myself and others. It was becoming clear that the symptoms were a call for me to balance the love in my life that was too outer directed and needed to be redirected internally as self-love.

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who encountered his transcendental ordeal when sent with his family to a concentration camp during the 40s. Dr. Frankl, being the only survivor in his family, became a leader in existential and humanistic psychology. He posited that it was essential to find greater meaning in all of life’s circumstances, especially those that were more brutal and catastrophic. It is only by attributing greater meaning to these horrific experiences that one could lead a meaningful life.

Today, there is much suffering in the world that is getting purified by souls who are willing to live a meaningful life with catastrophic injuries and illnesses. I would like to spend the rest of my life reminding myself and others of this higher, Sacred purpose for what we would otherwise believe to be unnecessary suffering.

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