The other title I considered for this post is ‘The best $500 I’ve ever spent.’ I am currently attending the Landmark Forum, and I can already confidently say, this is the best $500 I’ve spent. Ever.
The Forum works to show people how to live life powerfully and how to live a life they love. One huge benefit I’ve experienced so far is an inexplicable freedom from crippling fear. As I mentioned before, this is a fear that has played itself out in panic attacks when I was in college. It’s this fear that has kept me from connecting meaningfully with people throughout my life. Fear that has kept me from truly sharing my feelings, because I believed that certain emotions are bad, wrong, and not normal for me to feel. Fear that has continuously kept me from being my authentic self, even with my favorite people on the planet.
In the past three days of the Forum, I’ve experienced real breakthroughs with loved ones. With my parents, ex-boyfriends, and close friends, I’ve created possibilities that did not exist before. Here are a few examples of my interactions over the past three days:
My recent ex-boyfriend Eric is someone who I love tremendously. He is fantastic, and inspiring, and beyond intelligent. A week ago, I sent him an article called ‘Hold Me Tight,’ which walks through the notion that the biggest reason why people fight with their partners is due to perceived emotional disconnection and a lack of touch. The story I told myself when sending this to him was that I was being thoughtful in sharing an insight he could learn from. When I got real with myself during the Forum, I was able to admit to him that I sent that article to make myself feel better. One of my ongoing complaints about our relationship was that he wasn’t affectionate enough. I would literally count the number of times he held my hand, planted a kiss on me, put his arm around me, and when I wasn’t satisfied with the number, I’d spiral into my own world of sadness, loneliness, and anger. I focused my energy on proving myself right in that theory during and after we broke up, and sent him this article with a smug feeling of, ‘See! I was right!’ What ‘being right’ did for me was keep me from really expressing my love for him. Being in the moment with him. Grabbing his hand! Having fun with him. When I called him up to admit my inauthenticity, apologize, and share with him the possibility I see of us starting a new, amazing relationship, he listened thoughtfully, thanked me, shared insights I had never heard, and truly accepted me. It felt wonderful!
Yesterday, I called my mom to apologize for all the times I’ve chosen to fight with her instead of really listening to her. I let her know that I’ve created the possibility of no more pointless fights, and no more blaming her for how I feel. I reassured her that I am happy and leading a life I love, in large part due to the amazing job she did raising me. Finally, I asked her, ‘Mom? Are you there?’ My mom is usually VERY chatty! Then I heard some sniffles, and realized she was crying. I got worried and asked her if she was okay. After a brief pause she then said, ‘Thank you. Thank you so much for calling me to tell me that. It makes me really happy.’
Another person who I reached out to, totally nervous and unsure, was an ex-boyfriend from over seven years ago. Bizarre, right!? I shared with him a letter that I had written to him while in the Forum, and what it opened up for us was a mutual respect and, in my opinion, the best conversation we’ve ever had. Here’s the letter, which I appreciate him allowing me to share on this very public blog:
A special thank you to my wonderful friend Jen, who inspires me and cared enough to share her experience of the Landmark Forum with me.
With courage, love and (definitely) intensity,
Photo credit: Dia™ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND