"Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind"
Back in the mid-90’s, I was a long haired, Nirvana loving teen…
I had a close circle of friends, but I often felt awkward and struggled with anxiety and depression. I tried to figure out how to escape these feelings, but I felt trapped by them.
As high school drew to a close, many of my friends had plans for College or University, but I knew that path wasn’t quite right for me. As fate would have it, I met a few people my age who were travelling instead of getting a job or going off to College, and I decided to travel. It felt like a big risk at the time, but in hindsight, travelling alone forced me to face my fears and I began to gain confidence and trust myself a bit more.
Even though I was starting to get glimpses of a different way of life, I returned home because I didn’t know what else to do. Once back, the old feelings of anxiety and depression returned and still feeling uncertain, I went to College.
Along the way, I was introduced to back-country canoeing and met someone from Germany who changed my life. We exchanged a series of letters where I poured out my heart and shared my frustrations about the world.
The process of sharing my thoughts and feelings with someone I felt comfortable with was what helped me start to make sense of my experiences.
Soon after, we began travelling together, working on organic farms, living out of tents, and cooking our meals on top of a fire. I began eating healthy, exercising and feeling more connected to nature, and as a result, I started to feel stronger.
This newfound self-discovery led me to study yoga and meditation so that I could continue to shed the old feelings I had carried with me for so long and start stepping more fully into this new solid, secure sense of self.
I volunteered at a yoga centre in the US called Kripalu and learned more about the physical and philosophical practices of yoga. For many years thereafter, I travelled to other countries and explored the world with a sense of adventure and confidence that I had only begun to touch into back when I was in Israel. As I continued to develop myself spiritually, I went to numerous Vipassana retreats (an approach to silent meditation), began to teach yoga, and worked as a wilderness guide.
In hindsight, my experiences travelling and studying yoga helped lay the foundation for the things that I had been lacking from my childhood: confidence, happiness, and better relationships.
As far as I had come, I recognized that the Nirvana loving teen part of me was still struggling and I wasn’t quite sure of the direction of my life. With the help of a friend in the yoga community, I got in touch with a therapist began psychotherapy.
Therapy gave me real insights into how much I had been holding back from others, and how afraid I was of being vulnerable.
As scary as it was at times, I was confronted with an important choice: I could keep holding everything in, or I could take a risk and share the parts of myself I was scared and ashamed of, with other people.
Much to my surprise, the people I began to tentatively share myself with were receptive and supportive. I was finally able to process a lot of old sadness, grief, fear, and anger. Once I took the risk to share all of that, I started to feel more alive. My relationships improved, I was able to take responsiblity, hold myself accountable, and be more honest with myself and others.
Through this therapeutic work, I developed a deep appreciation and respect for psychotherapy and made the decision to go to school to become a therapist myself. Six years of education gave me an even deeper appreciation and love for this work. Looking back, I truly believe I was meant to go through the challenges that I faced. Each of them guided me perfectly along my path.
I have always been known as a caring and compassionate person. Now, because of my personal experience and professional training, I get the opportunity to share my care and compassion with others on their journey.
Now, I am dedicated to helping others move through their own suffering so they too can recognize how perfectly their path is set up to guide them to the life and experiences they’ve been dreaming of.
At this next stage in my practice, I am now working with an associate as well as being in the process of developing a clinic with fellow therapists from a diverse range of backgrounds, immersed in relational and embodied psychotherapy, to support clients at all levels.
To read my associate, Frank Marchese’s story, click here