When I made the decision to leave Mike I had no idea where I was going to live. I wasn’t working at the time due to therapist “burn-out” and being physically unwell. I also had very little in the way of finances. I now had an additional expense, a horse that I purchased the year before. This horse meant everything in the world to me, and I just couldn’t imagine being without him. I was determined to find a caretaker position in exchange for free housing and board for my horse. I placed an ad on Bay Area Equestrian Network, a website that is very popular with horse people. I got a response from a couple who were horse trainers and needed someone to help out on their ranch. We all met and got along great. However, things were quick to change when I moved in. The woman could be extremely nice and considerate then at a drop of a hat go into rage--a psychotic rage. It was frightening. I thought, “Oh my god, the pattern is happening all over again. What haven’t I learned?”I couldn’t help but reflect on my ex-roommates that I discussed in the first chapter. In retrospect there were red flags that I chose to ignore out of desperation. They are always there!
I felt I was in danger and was very concerned about my animals. Immediately, I contacted a boarding stable near by, and they transported my horse to their facility. I didn’t let my dog or my cat out of my sight. I called Mike and said, “This is an emergency, will you get me out of here.” He said, “No, I won’t help you.” (In time I would find this was the best thing he could have done for me.) I was speechless and wondered if he really ever cared about me. I was extremely hurt as you can well imagine. I hung up from him and called two gay men that I knew in Georgetown. I left a message on their phone machine: “This is an emergency, please get me out of here!”
During the time of my break-up with Mike, one of the men named, Craig said, “If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.” I’ve heard that before, but he meant it. Two hours later Craig and his partner Fred came with a large horse trailer and loaded all my belongings. The woman was so obsessed with having control that she wouldn’t let them on the property. I was forced to call the police, and during the call she grabbed the phone out of my hand and started ranting on and on. I will not take the time to write down the bazaar and sick behavior that she displayed. The police arrived and let my friends on the property, while they stood by in case the woman went off in a tangent again. One of the officers told me that the police department had nothing but problems with her.
My horse was now boarded, my belongings were in a dirty horse trailer, and I had no where to live. I was basically homeless and very frightened. I was so concerned for my cat, because he was diabetic and stress could make him very ill. I had to stop on the road to give him an insulin injection. Thank God, my Border Collie was doing fine. I stayed with an acquaintance that night, but after that I had no where to live. I could not find a hotel that allowed animals and I certainly couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel for any length of time. I needed a quiet place where I could center myself, get some much needed sleep, and think about what I was going to do. Except for Craig, I had absolutely no support system in Georgetown. I never really connected with the people there. I decided to go to Clovis, which is on the outskirts of Fresno and stay with some dear, dear friends who accepted me and my animals with open arms. It was so good to be in the presence of genuinely loving people. I so badly needed to feel safe and loved.
After a couple of very stressful days, I realized that I must find a place of my own and somehow get back to work. Every time I move in with strangers because of the lack of money, it becomes a nightmare. Once again Life was calling me to get bigger. It was time for me to tackle the world again. Even though I didn’t like Fresno, I decided to see if there were any affordable rentals.
I opened the newspaper and there was an ad for a country cottage. It was affordable, so I decided to take a look at it. It was located in the country surrounded by beautiful vineyards. The cottage was adorable, covered with Ivy like you see growing on country farmhouses in England. It was landscaped with orange and yellow mums, orange marigolds, purple and pink impatiens, and a huge mulberry tree that shaded a lush green lawn. The views of the vineyards go for miles and can be seen out every window. The cottage was fairly good size with lots of windows. I felt I could be happy there. I filled out an application and waited to hear from the landlords.
The following week, I was told the cottage was mine. The rent for the cottage was very reasonable, but I would not be able to afford it for very long unless I returned to work. I also knew that I might have to sell my horse, and the thought of that ripped at my heart. My heart still breaks when I think of the time when I had to give Dickie away. But for the grace of God my neighbors boarded my horse free in exchange for grooming their young horses.
I know at a soul level why I was destined to be in Fresno at this time. It was to see my sister who lives in Fresno and carries part of my shadow. (Later I would find it was also to reconnect with my parents and a dear friend.) My sister has had Tourette’s syndrome ever since I can remember. Tourette’s Syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder. It is defined as having multiple tics and one or more vocal tics, which occur before the age of eighteen years. Although my tics didn’t start until my early twenties, I carried the TS gene. When I was a flight attendant I had to have a series of vaccines, so I could work the military flights to Vietnam. Shortly, thereafter, I noticed the tics emerging. I believe the vaccines triggered the TS gene that was dormant at the time. The symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome are on a continuum. My tics are very minor compared to my sisters and hers are very minor compared to those serious cases where some individuals uncontrollably fling their arms and legs and can’t control the impulse to verbalize profanity. This can be a very cruel affliction.
My sister will never admit to having tics nor will she discuss such matters. I was absolutely stunned when she vehemently denied having tics. I have known for sometime that my sister has been a mirror of myself--a mirror I didn’t want to look into. I have been so embarrassed of my tics that I couldn’t stand looking at her and seeing myself. My sister also has phobias. David E. Commings, M.D. has done extensive research into Tourette syndrome and has observed a correlation between the TS gene and phobias. I encourage anyone suffering with Tourette’s or know someone that does to read his book Tourette Syndrome and Human Behavior. He firmly believes this is a genetic disorder and is more common that we believe.2 The more I understand this genetic disease, the more I wonder if this really is a phobia or if it is basically sensory overload. All I know is that I just can’t handle a lot of stimuli whether it is from groups of people, traffic, loud music, or even the humming noise from a refrigerator can drive me nuts.
I don’t know why I’ve carried so much shame about not always being able to control my tics or my sensitivity to crowds and noise. I have never thought less of anyone else who struggles with the same condition or any other painful condition. I couldn’t have been a compassionate or effective therapist if I did. Why are we so hard on ourselves? I certainly related to a quote by Edith Weisskoph-Joelson that I read in Viktor E. Frankl’s incredible book Man’s Search for Meaning. She talks about “certain unhealthy trends in the present-day culture of the United States, where the incurable sufferer is given very little opportunity to be proud of his suffering and to consider it ennobling rather than degrading” so that “he is not only unhappy, but also ashamed of being unhappy.”3
For me, this last chapter I have written is the most important one—the admittance of my shame. I have felt such shame that I couldn’t imagine having this book published and my story revealed. But I know now that to be authentic, and to be truly whole, I must accept this part of myself that sometimes doesn’t look or feel so “pretty.” People with severe Tourette’s may feel insulted when they hear of my embarrassment over the mild tics that I have compared to the horror they experience each day. I can only say I am deeply sorry, but I can’t deny what I feel. I have deep compassion for these people and hope for their understanding.
I am thoroughly enjoying being on my own again and being independent. This time it is not a defense, but a real sense of coming into the fullness of my being and knowing myself in the deepest sense.
I mentioned earlier that another reason I feel I’m in Fresno was to reconnect to my parents who live only a few hours away in Los Angeles. My sister’s denial about her condition is a pattern that has run through my family. No one in my family wants to admit to anything that may be interpreted as negative. To me, this made me feel that my family was inauthentic and I avoided them for years. I carried the drama and the trauma for the family. It wasn’t until a few months ago when my mother became very ill that something shifted within me. I began loving her and wanting to be with her. It wasn’t because I thought she might die, but it was because she was vulnerable for the first time. Her defenses and “perfect” persona was gone. She was human and I loved her. This also applies to my father. I held onto some pretty nasty baggage regarding my father from childhood. That has been transformed and all I can see is his beautiful sweet soul of ninty years.
I also reconnected with Lyn, a woman who was my best friend all through junior high and high school. We were inseparable. It wasn’t until we graduated high school that we went our separate ways. We had issues with each other that severed our relationship. Lyn’s older sister, Sandy who I remained friends with since childhood, told me that one of Lyn’s children lived very close to me and Lyn comes to Fresno quite often. When we saw each other again, it was as if thirty some on years had never passed between us. We have lived such different lives, but we have come together again with a bond only a true soul sister can have with one another.
Today is November 18, 2005. I am fifty-six years old.I still have many of the same trials and tribulations I had prior to working with the unconscious, but today they don’t define who I am. I've become larger and forever enfolding with a centeredness I have not encountered before. Before doing inner work, I identified with the phobia and could not see beyond it. I now know that the phobia is only a very small part of who I am.
Agoraphobia has been my Achilles heel but also my greatest motivator. It has given me the impetus to look deeper into my psyche and introduced me to my soul. I would not know compassion as I do now, if I had not experienced suffering. By confronting my pain I would not have realized how much strength and courage I contain. I don’t think I would have grown and experienced the richness within myself, if I had not experienced this pain. I don't want to sound like I’m romanticizing it, because it can be pure hell, but I want to get across that there is always a bigger picture to our dynamics. Without pain in our lives, I don't think we'd have the motivation to think deeper and grow or become a person of depth or awareness. And there is nothing that entices me more than being conscious. This is my life; this is my game.
At the same time, I have to admit there are times when I do regress, but I am thankful that I usually have the awareness to recognize the conflict and resist the urge to run away, to not deal with whatever is happening in the moment. Luckily this usually delivers still greater insight and I end up being thankful for the opportunity to grow.
This phobia and/or sensitivity has brought me back to my own true nature. I came to this conclusion when I attended another workshop given by Brugh. Once again he was playing "high intensity music" that really gets my unconscious going. My head started to shake. This is an indication that I'm becoming quite phobic--a critical stage. I stayed with it and let it take me where it would. I turned into a primitive woman. In the vision my head fell forward and I began swinging my long matted hair back and forth like a mad woman. Later I would learn after reading Linda Leonard’s book Meeting The Madwoman that I became The Mad Woman archetype.3 I know this inner woman who one would think is mad but actually she is quite sane--just different. She is more at home with herself and the universe when she is in seclusion, tucked away somewhere in nature, nestled in the country where the only sounds she hears is the rustle of leaves and the exquisite symphony of nature.
I recall as a child being quite happy being by myself in the backyard digging a hole to China (I really believed that I could do this), and playing with all the critters that came my way whether they were snails, Gila monsters, or moles. My mother would always say, "Why don't you go play with your friends?" Even though I had friends who I enjoyed being with, I preferred being alone. This is my nature and I don't feel I have to run away from it any longer just because it isn't the social norm. I have to admit the phobia was a great excuse for not having to go out and socialize. Most people who meet me would find what I have said mind-boggling, an apparent contradiction, because I am so outgoing, but I find my soul feels God more often than not, when I am alone. This is my pattern and obviously it is not for everyone--and thank goodness for differences. But I can only hope that some would taste the delicious waters of aloneness and listen to the most beautiful music in the world--silence.
It’s been a long journey trying to getting “fixed.” Now I know there is nothing to fix. There is only the acceptance and love of self…and that is my journey toward wholeness.
This, dear reader, is where my story ends and where my story begins, a never-ending process of transformation.
AFTERWORD It is January 6, 2008, two years since I completed this manuscript. I now know, which I suspected over the years that I have never been agoraphobic. I am an intuitive empathic and you might be as well.
Recently a friend of mine recommended that I read the book Second Sight by Dr. Judith Orloff.1 Dr. Orloff is an intuitive psychiatrist who also worked with Brugh Joy, so I already felt some comradely with her. After reading her autobiography, my confusion about my situation with people came to rest. Her feelings about life paralleled my experiences in many ways. She confirmed what I already sensed that I do not have agoraphobia, but psychic sensitivity. She suspects, as do I, that many agoraphobics are misdiagnosed. She has found this to be true time after time in her psychiatric practice.
Empathics tend to energetically merge with other people and can actually feel what they are feeling. There have been a number of times that I actually knew I was doing this, but I didn’t have the tools or the know how to do anything about it. However, this phenomona is usually unbeknownst to an empathic. What’s so disconcerting is that many times empathics can’t distinguish between their own feelings and another’s. This can be quite disturbing especially in a crowd when energy fields constantly interchange. You can easily experience sensory overload. This has been my biggest dilemma.
I encourage anyone who has these experiences to read Dr. Orloff’s autobiography and her book Guide to Intuitive Healing: 5 Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness.2 She illustrates the steps to follow that can help buffer your sensitivity and live in the world a lot easier. I have found them to be extremely helpful.
About the Author
Cassandra Williams received her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. She holds certifications in domestic violence, sexual assault, creative expression, and “shadow” work.
2 B. Gordon, Dancing as fast as I Can (New York: Harper & Row, 1979).
Chapter 2: Leah
1 Brad and Francine Steiger, The Star People (New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group, 1984).
Chapter 3: Ananda
1 P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi (Los Angeles: Self Realization Fellowship, 1981).
2 P. Yogananda, Whispers From Eternity (Dakshineswar, Calcutta: Yogoda Satsange Society of India, 1986), p. 58.
Chapter 5: The Apparitions of Mary
1Sister Lucia, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words (Fatima, Portugal: Postulation Centre, 1976), p. 151.
2 Ibid., p. 151.
3 Ibid., p. 151.
4 Ibid., p. 151.
5 Ibid., pp. 152, 154.
6 Handout on The Apparitions of Fatima
7 Sister Lucia, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words (Fatima, Portugal:
Postulation Centre, 1976), p. 151.
8 Ibid., 167.
Chapter 9: The Shadow
1 H. Stone and S. Winkelman, Our Lost Instinctual Heritage. (Delos, Inc., 1993).
2 H. Stone and S. Winkelman, Our Lost Instinctual Heritage (Delos, Inc., 1993).
3 R. Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding theDark Side of the Psyche (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).
4 W. Joy, Avalanche: Heretical Reflections on the Dark andthe Light (New York: Ballantine, 1990), p. 202.
5 E. Bertine, Jung’s Contribution to our Time (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967), P. 59
6 Ibid, p. 65.
7 Ibid, p. 57
8 W. Joy, Avalanche: Heretical Reflections on the Dark andthe Light. (New York: Ballantine, 1990), p. 199.
9 E. Bertine, Jung’s Contribution to our Time (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967), p. 247.
10C. Zweig, & J. Abrams,(Eds.), Meeting the Shadow: TheHidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990), p. 132.
11 R. Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding theDark Side of the Psyche (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), p. 46.
12 Ibid, p. 50.
13 Ibid, p. 52.
14 W. Joy, Avalanche: Heretical Reflections on the Dark andthe Light (New York: Ballantine, 1990), P. 112.
15 J. Sanford, Evil: The Shadow Side of Reality (New York: Free Press, 1981), p. 52.
16 Ibid, p. 52.
Chapter 10: My New Name
1 F. D. Peat, Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matterand Mind (New York: Bantam Books, 1988).
3 D. Stein, Stroking the Python: Women’s Psychic Lives (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publicatons, 1993), p. xiii
4 M. Z. Bradley, The Firebrand (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987)
5 J. Wanless, Voyager Guidebook: Tarot Instruction Book (Carmel: Merrill-West Publishing, 1986), p. 52.
Chapter 11: Relationship as a Path to Wholeness
1 J. Amodeo, The Authentic Heart: An Eightfold Path to Midlife Love (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2001).
1 D. E. Commings, Tourette Syndrome and Human Behavior (Duarte, CA: Hope Press, 1997).
2 V. E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (Washington Square
Press, 1984) P.170,171
3 L.S. Leanard, Meeting the Madwoman: Empowering the Feminine Spirit (New York: Bantam Books, 1993).
Afterword 1 J. Orloff, Second Sight (New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1996).
2 J. Orloff, Guide to Intuitve Healing: 5 Steps to Physical,
Emotional, and Sexual Wellness (New York: Three Rivers Press,
I have used this process with my clients that have given their power over to another person. It has been quite helpful. I encourage you to try it.
To learn more about these energy centers of Chakras, please read Introduction To The Chakras by Peter Rendel.
It was difficult to write negative things about my parents, but it was necessary to demonstrate how we choose our partners to work out painful and unfinished business from the past. My parents have also grown and are loving and accepting people.