Rather than donning an expert hat and speaking from the perspective of knowledge, Dina speaks from the perspective of experience. What Dina terms the 3x3 -her 9-minute per day meditation practice- became the key to her healing. This process is so effective and unique that she enlisted Bruce Lipton, Phd and bestselling author of Biology of Belief to help explain why and how the 3x3 enabled Dina to experience such a profound level of physical and emotional healing, from food and alcohol addiction to weight loss to relationships with others.
Madly Chasing Peace takes you step by gritty step from the depth of Dina's personal desperation up through the victory of her healing of body, mind and soul. Her story can inspire you in your own journey to finding internal freedom from inner demons, comfort in your own skin, and access to a depth of joy little known to most people.
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|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
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how could this happen to a good girl like me?
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
— Anaïs Nin
The agonizing week I described in the Prologue took place in late September 2008. By Friday night of that week I had decided that I just couldn't live with myself any longer. Looking for a sign from God or the universe, I decided that if the two kind women I had met at the recovery center weren't there the next morning, I would end my life with a bottle of my anxiety medication and a bottle of vodka. I thought that should do the job in a not-too-awful way.
So, early that Saturday morning (Suicide Saturday, as I call it), I went to the recovery center for the meeting. I was anxious, sweating and exhausted. I hadn't slept all night.
Hands shaking, I opened the door and walked into the room looking for the two women who had sat with me the past few mornings. There they were, waiting near the door. Their professional weekday attire was replaced with jeans and t-shirts, but the same warmth and compassion was in their eyes. They both grabbed me by the hand right away and led me to a seat.
As much as I willed them not to, my tears came. These poor women had no idea what I'd been planning for later that day. I was relieved that they didn't ask me questions or try to get me to talk. Maybe they sensed that all I wanted was a little comfort from human touch, that I just wanted to sit near them while they held my hands and brushed my tangled, tear-stained hair back from my face.
My body was present in the room, but my mind was a million miles away. My sign had been granted in seeing them, and I thought I would feel relieved. But my desire to escape my inner pain was stronger still than the sign I'd asked for.
Throughout the meeting I couldn't stop myself from continuing to obsess on my suicide plan — the timing, the details, wondering if everything at home and work was organized enough to leave behind. An hour went by too quickly, and the meeting was over. Everyone dispersed. One of the women, Anna, gave me her phone number and told me to call her anytime I needed to talk. Both women hugged me and reminded me that if I kept coming back, things would get better.
I watched them walk out together, feeling detached, like I was in a dream. I had thought that, if I saw them, I would have my answer, but now I wasn't sure. Seeing them had comforted me, but I wasn't convinced that things would get any better if I stuck around longer. My mind was a soupy fog.
I walked out to my car after the meeting but I couldn't bring myself to drive home yet. I couldn't even open the door to my car; I just wasn't ready to head home to die. My anxiety medication and vodka were waiting for me there, ready to send me off to sleep forever. But part of me wasn't ready yet.
I forced myself to take a walk around the block. My mind was spinning with the "should I, shouldn't I?" question and my tears flowed continuously. When I got back to my car I still wasn't ready to get in and drive home, so I took another walk around the same block. My thoughts kept returning to the women at the recovery center. One part of me wanted to see what I could learn from them, even though the other part of me just wanted to end everything.
As I rounded the corner and approached my car for the second time, I suddenly had a thought: I could always just kill myself tomorrow. If I didn't feel right about doing it today, I could just put it off a day. I could do it anytime I wanted to, really. Just not today. Maybe I did want to explore the people at the recovery center more. And if nothing came of it after another day, or two, or three, I'd do it then. It's not like I had to throw out my bottle of pills or anything. I could just keep them safely tucked away until the day came.
That decision ended up saving my life. At the recovery center, lots of people had told me just to focus on today, just to worry about making it through this one day. Of course what they meant was, you don't have to drink today. You can drink tomorrow. Just not today. But what it meant for me was, I don't have to kill myself today. I can always do it tomorrow.
Because one thing was clear: there was no way I was about to quit drinking. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep myself from committing suicide if anyone took away my safety blanket of alcohol. There was no way I could endure life without a drink. I'd much rather be dead than have to feel the excruciating pain of my deep self-hatred and depression. Though my anguish was purely mental, it was as torturous as if the blood in my veins was several degrees warmer than it should be. The constant throb of mental and emotional torment was nearly unbearable.
Of course, I didn't tell anyone that. For weeks I kept going to the center, thinking I'd go to meetings for as long as they'd let me. I was surprised but relieved that they never kicked me out even though I never made a promise to quit drinking.
In between thoughts of suicide and internal debates about whether or not to cut back on my drinking, a nagging question kept arising. I couldn't help but wonder how on earth I could have ended up in this situation. How in the world could a good girl with a privileged Long Island upbringing, who graduated from college with honors just ten years earlier, have ended up this profoundly miserable?
* * *
My earliest memories are not unhappy ones, but when I compare them to most people's childhood memories, I can see that I took life way too seriously. In my college psychology courses I heard more than one professor say that often people make one or two decisions as children that turn out to be life-determining. Looking back, I know exactly when I made one of those decisions, though of course at the time I had no idea the impact it would have.
I was probably eight years old, sitting in the front passenger seat of the family minivan next to my mom, who was driving. My two younger sisters were in the backseat. As we drove, I looked over and noticed that my mom was crying silently. I was shocked. My mom was a strong superhero, not a person who cried! I got very scared about what might be happening. I remember asking her what was wrong, and she began to cry harder. She pulled over to the side of the road to regain her composure. I was frightened and felt very insecure.
"Mommy, what's wrong?" I asked again nervously, wondering if I'd done something to upset her.
"Oh, Dina, I just don't know what to do!" she sobbed. "What should I do? Please just tell me what to do and I'll do it. I just don't know what to do!"
She kept repeating those words over and over. I know now that she was talking to herself, or maybe to God, but as the oldest daughter, I thought she was talking to me. I thought she needed my help, but I didn't even know what she needed to know how to do.
For my mom, this was a rare five-minute episode in which she lost her composure in front of her kids. For me it was a life-changing moment. I was deeply upset with myself because I thought I should've known what to do, and I didn't. After a few minutes my mom's crying subsided and we continued driving home. But by then, I had made two decisions. I had vowed to myself that (1) I would always know what to do in every situation, and (2) I would do anything I could to make my mom happy. I couldn't bear to see her cry, and I never, ever wanted to be the one who upset her.
This led to my morphing overnight into Super Kid. My parents had always told me how smart I was and how important good grades were. I asked them if they thought I was smart enough to get perfect grades, and they smiled and said, "Of course. You're one of the smartest kids in your class; we can't imagine you would earn anything less than the highest grades in your school."
I believed them and decided I didn't want to just have good grades, I wanted to have the best grades. I wanted to make them the proudest they possibly could be. Looking back today, it's obvious that my well-intentioned idea of demanding perfection of myself led to the chronic anxiety that created the mess I found myself in as an adult. Striving tobe impeccable was a curse: if I didn't do everything absolutely perfectly, I wasn't happy.
I had always needed to understand everyone and everything. I remember one time even writing out a questionnaire for my tooth fairy. I asked her if she sold my teeth for money, if I was her only tooth child and if she was invisible. I was curious about these things, but I also needed to know if she was real, so I wanted to compare her handwriting with my parents'. She wrote back that very night and told me her name was Marlene. She neatly printed her response and my parents always wrote in script, so I was able to prove that she existed. Marlene told me that she never sold my teeth, she had lots of other children she visited and she wasn't invisible. She was just very, very small.
As a kid, I also created precise daily schedules for myself, listing when to brush my teeth, do my homework and clean my room. And the times I set weren't 7:00, 7:05, 7:15 ... those were easy, rounded-off times that anyone could stick to. For my schedule I set times like 7:03, 7:12, 7:19 because only a perfect person could conform to schedules that precise. My deepest need was to be the best I could possibly be, and the closer I kept to my schedule, the better I felt about myself.
Most people wait to have their mid-life crisis until their 40s, but I got mine out of the way the night before my 13th birthday. Of course I planned to live past the age of 26, but the idea of being a teenager, almost a grown-up, terrified me. Most of the grown-ups I knew weren't terribly happy people. My teachers at school were stern and strict, and my parents took life very seriously and always told me how important it was to be responsible. And so far, even with my strenuous self-discipline, I felt that I wasn't good enough, wasn't perfect enough, so I was scared to death that I was going to be a miserable adult. I was afraid I wasn't prepared enough to be a teenager, that much closer to adulthood.
And at 13, I was afraid of getting my period too. That would be the real sign that I was becoming an adult. On my last day of being twelve years old, I felt like some people feel the night before their wedding — being carefree has been fun, having youth and freedom has been a good ride, but now the time has come to settle down. I knew it was all downhill from here, as far as enjoying life was concerned.
And then, a couple of years later when I was in high school, one evening my parents sat me down to talk to me about something important. They told me that my dad had been drinking too much and had started going to a recovery program to get help. He wouldn't be drinking whiskey every night anymore. Well, that was OK with me; that big jug of whiskey in our cupboard smelled terrible and was always in the way when I was trying to get my cereal. It seemed odd though, because I had never seen my dad drunk — or maybe I just didn't know what drunk looked like at that age.
In any case, I made another life-defining promise to myself that night. None of my friends from private school drank, and I'd never tasted alcohol at that point. I vowed that even when I was old enough to drink I would never, ever drink any alcohol whatsoever in front of my dad. And I sure would never get drunk in front of him, whatever "getting drunk" meant.
Later into my teens, as I began comparing myself to my friends, I felt like I was missing something. I had an emptiness inside of me that my friends didn't have. Everyone around me was having fun, and I tried to fit in too, but I never felt like I was one of them, like I was a cool kid that belonged. My ability to maintain straight-A grades and a place in the Honor Society and on the Yearbook Committee didn't enhance my self-esteem. I liked being smart, but it didn't help me feel like I fit in. From the outside no one could tell anything was wrong. But inside, none of my grades or achievements mattered. I saw myself as ugly and different.
My insecurity ran deep, but I never let anyone know that. I worked hard to put on a front of being easy-going and fun, while the black hole inside me continued to expand. I knew no one else felt the same way — everyone else was happy and loving life. I thought something was wrong with me, but I didn't want anyone to think I was weird, so I never told a soul.
Living in the dorms at college, I discovered that my eating habits were different from my friends' too. I saw them have a cookie or two for dessert or a slice of cake at a birthday party and leave it at that. I'd always been sort of a sugar-person. One slice of cake was never enough. I'd eat a cookie or two with other people, then later, alone, I'd finish the box. I always did these mini-binges alone so no one would think I was abnormal.
And it wasn't just food. After watching a TV show or two with my roommate, she'd go off to bed but I'd need to keep going. I'd end up watching hours of mindless shows, sometimes all night long. All-or-nothing was how I lived. A friend of mine once said my mantra was, "If it's good, back the truck up!"
All of my extreme behaviors were an attempt to fill my inner emptiness and make me feel happy. But all the excess food and TV (and later, men and booze) only worked to give me temporary relief. It never lasted because the stuff I was filling this gaping hole with wasn't what I was truly hungry for.
After college, I decided that maybe helping others would give me a sense of purpose and satisfaction. If I could just find something fulfilling to do, I might feel better. Well, true to my all-or-nothing nature, I didn't just volunteer here and there on the side, I found myself on an all-out mission to heal the world, and hopefully myself.
I thought about joining the Peace Corps, but frankly I was scared to live in a third world country, so I found a similar volunteer corps within the U.S. that provided community housing and a small stipend in exchange for my work in a full-time volunteer position. I chose a placement in Southern California, where I'd never been before. I thought changing my environment would fix me, and I didn't just want a new city, I wanted the opposite side of the country.
My volunteer placement was at a homeless shelter for pregnant women. I liked working there but it wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped, so I started volunteering after-hours as a mentor to teens in juvenile hall. I also tutored kids at a family shelter and helped out on another charity's "bread runs" late at night, picking up that day's leftover bread from nearby bakeries and bringing it to soup kitchens.
Volunteering with yet another organization on the weekends, I made dozens of sandwiches and gallons of soup and brought them to homeless people on skid row in downtown Los Angeles. I met lots of people who called cardboard boxes home, including a guy called Five-Coat Joe. He didn't own a blanket because he learned you could get arrested for sleeping overnight in the park under a blanket, so he used coats instead. He knew all the technicalities of outdoor living.
By the end of that year, I had learned a lot about others whose lives were very different from mine, but nothing had really changed inside of me. If anything, the emptiness had continued to grow. I thought maybe the people I was working with weren't poor enough, and I might find it more satisfying to overcome my fear and go to a third world country and help out. So I took a job working at a non-profit international aid organization and traveled with them to Africa for several weeks. I thought it would be a wake-up call for me to realize how hard others' lives could be, and that might put my life in perspective and launch me into feeling grateful for my life and better about myself.
Well, much to my surprise, the villagers I met in Africa were happy. I couldn't believe it! The impoverished women danced joyously and taught me how to swing my hips. (You haven't danced until the village ladies in Africa have swung your hips for you.) Their calm, wide-eyed children were curious and affectionate, constantly smiling and patting my long, fine brown hair and soft, pale, sun-protected skin. I was more confused than ever. What on earth had these folks — who lived without running water and electricity — figured out that I hadn't?! How could they possibly be so much happier than I was? They were so poor! And yet I felt they were giving me more than I was giving them.
I worked for non-profits for several years and was even honored with the U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award two years in a row for my volunteer work. And yet, I still felt unfulfilled. In fact, I felt horribly empty inside. And so, when the position I was holding lost its funding, I felt it was time to try something else. I went to a temporary employment agency to find work, and they placed me in a paid administrative job. I still volunteered in my free time, doing office work and raising money for an organization that brought clothing and computers to South America.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Madly Chasing Peace"
Copyright © 2013 dina proctor.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Peggy McColl,
Part One: MY TURN,
Chapter One: How Could This Happen to a Good Girl like Me?,
Chapter Two: Surrender,
Chapter Four: Mending the Past,
Chapter Five: The Damn Laundry,
Chapter Six: Kate,
Chapter Seven: Oatmeal Cookies for Breakfast,
Chapter Eight: KC,
Chapter Nine: Video Games,
Chapter Ten: Pre-forgiveness,
Chapter Eleven: Kate's Back,
Chapter Twelve: Healing from Addiction,
Chapter Thirteen: My Healing Continues (featuring Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.),
Part Two: YOUR TURN,
Introduction to the Games,
Game One: The 3x3,
Game Two: Watch Yourself,
Game Four: Pre-forgiveness,
Game Five: Smile-inside List,
Game Six: Who Knew?,
Permissions & Credits,