I have been both fortunate and unfortunate in my life — in my family of origin and my culture. I grew up in an educated, middle class, American family — full of books, family time, toys, healthy food, and a stable bedtime — to a mother who was often unhappy, often perverse, and alcoholic, and a father who was desperate for external approval, occasionally cruel, and often neglectful of me. Both my parents were quite wounded from their own childhoods — and acted out their unresolved issues on me abusively.
Yet at the same time both provided well for me in other ways — better than their own parents had for them. This contributed to my growth, which paradoxically provided me the strength to be able to break away from them. Although breaking away has come at great personal sacrifice, it has been vital for my development as a human being and my connection with my true self.
My basic inspiration comes from looking within. My true self, like the true self within all of us, is a powerhouse of purity and energy. Self-reflection has been my life’s devotion for nearly 20 years, and experience has shown me that the answers are within each of us — if we can find them. My path of self-study and self-exploration presently involves journaling, analyzing my dreams, maintaining strong sexual boundaries, practicing creative expression, spending time with healthy friends — and engaging in hard work!
Yet I have also been influenced by others on my journey. In the field of psychology my greatest inspiration has been Alice Miller, despite her limits. But by the time I came across her writings I was already well on my way to having developed my own point of view. She did, however, give me validation for certain ideas, and helped me crystallize others.
I have also derived many of my ideas from conversations with friends and colleagues. Several of my closest friends are gifted and courageous therapists — some of whom I’ve met through this website. I myself worked for ten years in New York City as a psychotherapist — a job which is so much more than a job. Being a therapist was an unparalleled experience in my life — and an enormous privilege. I am eternally grateful that I could witness so many people’s deepest dilemmas and truest selves — and provide guidance to the best of my abilities.
I ended my private practice in March of 2010 for a variety of reasons. I was ready for new horizons, new challenges, and a new freedom, and so far that is exactly what I’ve found. I’ve done a lot of traveling and couch-surfing and hitchhiking since then, I’ve made three new films, I’ve been learning new languages, I’ve been studying myself and continuing to heal from my history of childhood trauma, and in many ways I’ve stayed intimately involved with the mental health world — by studying it, critiquing it, trying to make sense of what is good in it, and also trying to figure out how to make it better. Yet I no longer have a calling to be a paid therapist. In fact, many days I’m not even sure if I believe in this thing called psychotherapy anymore. I’m much more a proponent of self-therapy…
A bit more about my past
In a few words, I would say I’ve had a pretty rich life so far. I was born in 1972, I lived in both the city and the countryside as a kid, and I feel comfortable in both environments. I grew up spending a ton of time outdoors — hunting and fishing and camping and swimming and playing sports and having a relatively free and wild life with my friends from a very early age. But I was also extremely academic, and had the good fortune to get a good formal education, which, even though I grew to detest formal academics because of its shortsightedness and general high level of denial and stupidity, has served me well in the long-run. But I learned more from my non-academic life: being around animals, incubating duck eggs, catching butterflies and moths, having pet turtles and snakes, building snow forts, going sledding with my friends…
At 18 I went to Swarthmore College and graduated with a degree in biology, which steeped me in scientific thinking, something I respect to this day. I hold the scientific method in high regard, and have internalized it deeply. I love to evaluate and collect data and test for myself the world around me — and, perhaps more importantly, the world within me. I never worked professionally in biology though. Instead, after college, I waited tables, I tossed pizzas, I hitchhiked around the world, I was lost and depressed a fair amount, I did temp-work in New York City, I worked as a kids’ folk musician and storyteller, I played a ton of guitar, and eventually I found my way into the mental health field as a professional. Meanwhile, I have also put a huge amount of effort into studying children, parents, and families. This subject, and especially the subject of the universal dilemmas of children, is one of my great passions.
I have also broken away from my own family of origin. I came to realize that my parents were unhealthy for me and that having a relationship with them was impeding my relationship with myself. The more I grew the more I realized I could not afford this. So I don’t talk with them anymore, and haven’t for years. And I have no plans to talk with them either. This has been a major relief for me — and a major liberation. I breathe better because of this, I love myself much more, and I find much more passion and honesty and health in my days. And it’s odd, because even though they harmed me a lot in my childhood, and really set my life’s path in some twisted directions, I’ve worked a lot of this out over the past fifteen or twenty years and don’t go through my days thinking about them much — or feeling angry at them. Mostly they’re not on my mind — though I spent many years when I thought and dreamed and journaled about them daily, which was necessary for me to process what they’d done to me.
But now I’m in a different place. Although I still have more inner work to do regarding my childhood, as I still have some unresolved issues, I feel I’m really over the hump of the worst of it and have come to a great deal of clarity and self-love. Had I stayed close with my parents I feel this would have been impossible. The gravity of the family system simply would have sucked me back in and crushed my expanding self. I have broken out of their orbit, and feel very grateful as the result.
The more I’ve become free of my childhood traumas the more my future opens up for me. I find this immeasurably exciting. Although I am now in my 40s, I feel more youthful passion than ever, yet what I love now is that I don’t live under any oppressive or mixed-up parental regimes. Now I am my own parent and take pretty excellent care of myself. I’m not sure exactly where my future will take me, but my plans are as follows: 1) To continue to work hard to spread my messages. 2) To continue to become as emotionally healthy as possible. 3) To take more and more healthy risks, to step out of my comfort zone, to try new things, and to really do my best to manifest my deepest truth.