Hopeless in Seattle: A Mythotherapy Commentary

hope

I woke up today, a beautiful sparkling day in Costa Rica, mad as a hatter. Then I just found myself crying into my pillow. My heart hurt and I had to wash my face, click on my computer and tell you why.

When I started this site nearly a year ago I had three inspirations: To encourage people to tell their stories, to help writers get published and to share what I know about writing, navigating the publishing world and most of all, to honor story as power in the world.

Most of my clients are first world citizens who enjoy many of the luxuries that most of the planet do not have the opportunity to experience: Clean and free water, electricity, watching a show before bed while eating Ben and Jerry’s, a bed, buying food on every corner, one or two Starbucks coffees in a day and money. I think it’s safe to say that my clients are mostly Caucasian, privileged in my sense of the word and writing is a luxury, sometimes a hobby and most of the time a story that is true in their lives and the telling of it will help others and heal the writer at the same time. All but one storyteller. This is who I want to speak about in this post.

Over the past two years I have been getting to know a young man in his twenties from Zimbabwe. He has a story to tell, passion for his people and his family, a large family that his mother is raising, and he has no vehicle to tell his story other than Facebook.   And in my mind the best writers are those who cannot help themselves and have to write, are roused in the night and must jot down ideas or begin a new chapter, dig into a new flash of insight or who have lived through the unthinkable and still possess a light in them and their story of triumph is the medicine the world needs. A writer who does not write as a hobby or a tangential part of life, but sees writing as their life, like breathing, is a very different animal. Emmanuel is one of those writers and storytellers. And he has gotten under my skin.

I grew up in a black and white world of the 50’s. Yes there were pink poodle skirts, bobby socks, diners, 38 records and then came the Beatles, the Vietnam War and chaos and cover-ups. But there was also growing up in the south where an African-American person was a “nigger”, when Brazil nuts were call “nigger toes” in my family, where I grew up with maids and drivers and black gardeners who pruned our hedges and clipped the grass around a four-foot metal lawn ornament of a black man holding a lantern and wearing a butlers outfit. This was my norm as a child. Then it all changed. I saw more sides of the black and white issue, as I became a teen.

My knees buckled as race riots were out of control in Watts. As front-page news was Selma and countless other towns and cities brutally murdering black citizens. I sat with my parents with our aluminum TV trays and Swanson TV dinners in front of a black and white television as JFK was gunned down and began hysterically crying as my parents sipped a vodka tonic and praised the conservatives and bashed the liberals. I became despondent when our government murdered Martin Luther King, and then the same people assassinated Bobby Kennedy. By 17 I was hopeless.

watts

The black and white issue began to eat away at my soul. Why? Because it was a human story for me. It was about people intentionally killing hope. From those days forward I was all about keeping hope alive. My hope, the hope of people in poverty, people who had so much less than me, people who had no future in our country back then because of the color of their skin. As for me I was lily-white, blonde, blue-eyed and wanting for not one thing in life.

Fast forward. I moved from hand writing letters to my congressman on stationary with my embossed initials at the top and mailing it to them by snail mail for eight cents to emailing those letters decades later. The KKK had gone underground and reappeared dressed differently. They were now corporate leaders, governing officials and not very interested in my emails. The Internet opened doors for all of us and there was a new power of the word birthing itself every day in cyberspace. Facebook shattered barriers and became a tool I would come to use religiously. Not because I wanted to simply dazzle the world with photos of my children or inspiring quotes, but because it connected me to stories around the world. I then started a Facebook page called Equilux, all about the dark and the light, all about the not so black and white issues we face. Then I met Emmanuel through Facebook and was instantly transported back to the days of my life at thirteen when life was becoming hopeless.

Emmanuel in his twenties, lives in a country in Africa that is a regime dedicated to keeping people from telling their stories, keeping people in poverty and powerless. Zimbabwe is not necessarily a black and white story though; it is a black and black story that is perpetuated by white values. Emmanuel is one of several children, the oldest, raised with the rest of them by his mother, living a life in a house with dirt floors and tiny brothers and sisters who dream of school and an easier life. Emmanuel is the only one to graduate school and who wants to go to college and follow a dream. His dream is not to get a job in IT and adopt empty western values, his dream is to go to film school so he can tell his story, his mother’s story and the story of his people. Emmanuel knows that is the only power of change for him and for his country; Words, stories and telling his truth.

If you go to Facebook and look Emmanuel Mazivire up, you will see him post photos of his family, his people and say things like “One kind word can change someone’s day” or “Do not judge by appearances, a rich heart may be under a poor coat”. He has not lost hope. So Emmanuel and I started to talk two years ago. He shared some of his writing of a story he wants to submit for a documentary on his mother and all the single mothers raising children in Zimbabwe. I posted about him and tried helping him get a basic video camera, which took six months to reach him because of how they monitor the mail in Africa. He still wishes to find a way to go to film school in the United States, still needs a video camera worthy of a documentary and is working on his writing.

So before the sun came up today I was roused by the part of me who after five decades of watching the black and white story, which is really the privileged and underprivileged story, the money and no money story, the entitled and not very entitled story and the turn a blind eye story because it is too inconvenient to know too many inconvenient truths, my heart hurt. Because Emmanuel is one in a sea of young people with stories to tell, dreams to live, love to share and who has very little means of doing so without help, without compassion, without others sharing the load. And like many I am not one to swoop into Zimbabwe on a plane with great video equipment and shoot a doc on Emmanuel and his life. Why? Because, no one can tell the story better than the person who is living it.

And I am one single mother in the world myself, privileged to live my dream, and not wealthy by a long shot. What I can do for and with Emmanuel is help him tell his story, be a voice along side of his, read his writing, coach him for free, share with people who are touched to help with a camera and support him on Facebook. But he needs more. He needs to have the flames of his hope fanned. What power each of us has to do that. He is pushing against all odds even in circumstances you or I would cry uncle to have to face. He needs a mentor, a documentary camera, a plane ticket, help for his mother, his siblings, his story. He needs to go to school, have a patron, get his video into film festivals. He needs me, he needs, you. I do what I can but as Emmanuel knows first hand…it takes a village. He is one person in a sea of stories. But as he posted last week:

few sincere words

So these are my few sincere words. There is an ocean filled with Emmanuel’s in this world, on every street corner, in Mumbai, Russia and New York City. Story is power. The power I chose to use in my world. We hold it in our hands every day and have a choice what to do with that story, sometimes failing to see that words are one of the most powerful tools we all have and only second to the power of the heart. Put the two together and we would all be unstoppable.

Note: If you are interested in knowing more about Emmanuel, helping in any way, running a Kickstarter Campaign to raise money for him, buy him a plane ticket, give him your video camera that is documentary worthy, or help me to help him please contact me personally at mayachristobel@gmail.com or write to Emmanuel directly at emmanuelmazivire@gmail.com and visit him on Facebook at Emmanuel Mazivire and send him your support. Become part of the global village.

emmanuel in school

 

Emmanuel doing some teaching.

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Quack or Quantum

oscar winner

Those who tell the stories rule the world.” –Hopi American Indian proverb

 I have been a psychologist for over 30 years. Carl Rogers was all the rage when I went to study for my graduate degrees at Harvard University in Developmental Psychology. The year was 1980. America had imprinted on our favorite therapist through the Bob Newhart Show, and it was the decade of the Rubik’s Cube, Cabbage Patch Kids and Bill Cosby. So, when it came to being a shrink, Carl Rodgers was a next great step forward from Sigmund Freud and the movie What About Bob.

What I took away from Carl was a process called “mirroring”. It goes something like this: “Oh, what I hear you saying is that you feel like throwing your cat out the window”.  At that point the client throws the tissue box at me. This approach rapidly became a tool I tossed in the trash.

Then I became a bit obsessed with Fritz Perls. He was an unorthodox psychologist and I felt I would give him a try while my client was sobbing uncontrollably. The approach was an utter failure. Fritz not only believed in ruthless honesty, but also believed in disarming the facade of the client by eliciting a “spontaneous and uncensored response” through what amounted to insulting and antagonistic remarks, like, “You’re such a phony, in fact you’re a bitch”. The only place that took me was to the closet to get yet another box of tissues. I wrote a lot of apology notes during this time. Therapists aren’t perfect.

This approach proved equally as unhelpful in the process of doing therapy with a client who simply wanted the only thing that any client wants in the end: To be loved and feel lovable. My sacred job was to find out where the story of love was broken.

The One Story

After decades as a therapist I have found that there is only one story any person is recovering from and hoping to heal: A Love Story. Every client, every trauma and every impasse to healing is only about… Love: Self love, the love of a parent, falling in love, betrayal in love or the love of god. The ultimate longing is about feeling loved, feeling worthy, feeling enough. It didn’t matter if Dad was an abusive alcoholic, whether mom abandoned the family, a husband or wife cheated, a car accident left a young woman disfigured, whether someone was penniless and on the street or couldn’t hold down a job, it all led back to the most primal place in each human and the spiritual core of who we are: Feeling the certainty that we are unconditionally lovable and abundantly capable of giving and receiving love.

When I saw this truth embedded in the thousand stories that walked through the door of my office, Story became the only place I focused with each and every client. Their hoped for love story, their fractured love story, their mad-as-a-hatter-I-hate-the-world story of love gone wrong, of loves betrayal and their story of broken heartedness. Helping a full-throated version of their story emerge is the most powerful tool for healing I can offer.

Story as Medicine

As I helped clients dig down deep to the core of their own personal story I saw something begin to happen that was unexpected. People’s physical ailments, chronic health issues, cancer diagnosis and near death experiences turned on a dime toward healing, health and life. So, in 2003 I embarked on the study of how we hold our stories, like books, in the library of our neurology as jammed vibrational frequencies. And, I began to study Quantum Entanglement.

Quantum Entanglement is one of the central principles of Quantum Physics though it is also highly misunderstood. In short, quantum entanglement means that multiple particles which can be atoms, cells or people, are linked together in a way such that the measurement of one particle’s “quantum state” determines the possible quantum states of the other particles.

I was participating in Quantum Entanglement every time my client wrote and shared their story, chapter by chapter, with me or in a group. I was changed in the same ways as my client was in the movement of energy through the telling of story. And the movement of energy was initiated through the powerhouse of the heart, the largest electro-magnetic field in our body.

I then began a decade of using biofeedback to neutralize the imbalances in our neurology, which create those nasty “triggers” in life we just seem to respond to over and over again no matter how much therapy we do. We can all relate to having done a load of therapy, spent a pile of money on dealing with anger or fear and just when we think we are well beyond our issues, we hear a parent yelling at a child at the local mall and are instantly transported back in time to feel all the emotions we felt when we were yelled at as a child. We cannot help it. It just takes us over. Our neurology flips a switch and produces a full-blown regressive state. Most of us have dozens of repeating triggers that just don’t let go with regular therapy, because they are body memories. Energy cluttering up our electrical system.

I then started to work with soldiers who had returned from Iraq, broken and suffering from PTSD and only being given mind and soul numbing drugs as a solution to their pain. Working with how our physical bodies held the memories and the experience of trauma and then helping them to release these body memories through biofeedback was a monumental success.

In the process of watching my clients move how they held their stories in their cells, their neurology, their muscles and their minds it became even clearer that moving energy through the telling, the writing, the drawing, the dancing of our story had unlimited healing potential. Story has a vibrational frequency that goes with it and is shifted in the telling of story. Every word, name and emotion has a frequency as well.

There is agreement among science, medicine and metaphysics that certain frequencies can repel disease, and certain frequencies can destroy disease. Herein lies the link between frequency (vibration) and health. Everything in nature vibrates at different frequencies. In fact quantum physics describes the universe as nothing more than vibrating strings of energy! Scientific research has shown that different parts of our bodies have their own sonic signature. In other words, the sound of the cells of your heart differs from the sound of the cells of your Lungs

The awareness of Quantum Entanglement and the power of changing a person’s vibrational frequency changed my life and the lives of my clients. Therapy began to look like this: When one person fully shared the story they were born to live and tell, the experience of two or more people in a room sharing in the story changes each and every person in the room on a vibrational and cellular level. Cells began to spin differently and each individual was physically altered by the experience. New brain chemistry then takes over, hearts beat at a higher vibrational frequency with the presence of vulnerable emotions. In short, story heals and changes our physiology. And sharing a story in its fullness with those who are hearing you is simply an act of unconditional love. Now we have story as medicine.

So what does an M.D. have to say about story as medicine?

Lissa Rankin, MD is an OB/GYN physician, author, keynote speaker, consultant to health care visionaries, professional artist, and founder of the women’s health and wellness community OwningPink.com was discouraged by the broken, patriarchal health care system, she left her medical practice in 2007 only to realize that you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling.    She embarked on a radical path that has led to revelations about the power of story and how it can heal the body.

Lissa says, “Telling your story—while being witnessed with loving attention by others who care—may be the most powerful medicine on earth. Each us are a constantly unfolding narrative, a hero in a novel no one else can write. And, yet so many of us leave our stories untold, our songs unsung—and when this happens, we wind up feeling lonely, listless, out of touch with our life’s purpose, plagued with a chronic sense that something is out of alignment. We may even wind up sick.

Every time you tell your story and someone else who cares bears witness to it, you turn off the body’s stress responses, flipping off toxic stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and flipping on relaxation responses that release healing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins. Not only does this turn on the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms and function as preventative medicine—or treatment if you’re sick. It also relaxes your nervous system and helps heal your mind of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and feelings of disconnection.

When we tell our stories …a sense of disconnection eases and you start to glimpse the truth—that we are beings of vibrating energy, connected on the energy internet through processes like quantum entanglement, with overlapping consciousness that connects us to a divine source and to the inner pilot light of every being on this planet.”

As a psychologist and a writer I decided to embark on a path of therapy and healing that focuses on helping people unearth and tell their story, write their way to health and healing and share the uniqueness of who they were born to be and the story they had lived, with the world.

Countless people who have no idea that they are creative and have no intention to tell their story but instead, keep it under lock and key in their hearts, their bodies, their bottom drawer of a desk, have ventured to tell their stories unabridged, fully felt and fully disclosed only to find it was the most powerful choice they had ever made.

My spiritual belief is that we are the authors of each and every painful, exhilarating, mind-boggling story we have lived. Ultimately, we are not victims to a story. And as the only keeper of these stories, we incarnate on this planet to live the stories and learn, but to then share and teach. A story that is buried and that does not see the light of day in consciousness or in reality can create a toxic illness of the body and a stagnation of the soul.

It is my dedication at this juncture of my career as a writer, as a storyteller, as a therapist and as a teacher to help healing happen through the blissful, terrifying, passionate, challenging process of telling our stories to each other and the world. But, to ourselves first and foremost. Words are power and each one of them carries a vibrational signature that can alter reality.

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
― Nikola Tesla