This one is crazy.
I feel crazy. Crazy angry, crazy sad, crazy embarrassed and crazy exposed. I was interviewed for a local magazine article about a woman I admire more than any other woman I have ever known. Her name is Mariah Fenton Gladis and she is my teacher, my therapist, my mentor and my guide.
Recently I was sent a copy of the published article. I was quoted in a way that did not reveal at all what I was trying to express. It sounded demeaning to Mariah and was completely misconstrued. Even though the words were what I said, it completely lacked the essence of the meaning I was conveying. I was attempting to share what is so uniquely and authentically beautiful and powerful about Mariah. What it ended up sounding like was gross and humiliating.
The article also published that I was in recovery for alcohol and narcotics addiction. That is something I have not shared with many people. Maybe it’s time I did.
I have known Mariah for 5 brief years and in those years I have completely changed who I am and how I live and am now on a trajectory to my potential. I know this in my bones. I know this as clearly as I know I love my children. And I know my ability and confidence to continue to grow is because of Mariah. I would not be who I am or where I am today if it were not for Mariah.
Mariah is an amazing woman. She was diagnosed over 33 years ago with ALS and was given a very small chance to live past two years. She has defied almost all odds and is continuing to deeply inspire and influence others. She does it every single day.
She is by far the most beautiful and influential woman I have ever known.
Five years ago I joined Mariah’s Gestalt Therapy Training Program at The Pennsylvania Gestalt Center in Malvern. Within two months of meeting and beginning work with Mariah in a group, I was fully engaged in her training program. I had never been to any form of Gestalt Therapy workshop where the primary focus was on Gestalt Therapy. I had been a dancer and Movement Specialist. All of my training was body based. This was completely new.
Working with Mariah, and spending several years working deeply with myself made me realize many things. While in her program it became abundantly clear to me in order to continue the deep personal work of transformation and healing I had to face the fact that I was an alcoholic. I had to stop drinking. I had been drinking my entire life, and though I could function very well, I was addicted.
I had to have it.
It became abundantly clear to me that if I continued to drink I could only grow to a certain point. Every night I was numbing my feelings and what was true for me. Alcohol made it possible for me to put reality aside every evening and pretend all was okay.
So I stopped. I decided one day 4 years ago to stop and I have not had a drink since. I stopped on my 18th wedding anniversary. My husband is Jewish and I knew that the number 18 means ‘Life’ in Hebrew and I wanted to change the direction of my life. That was the right time. Mariah made me see that it was not only possible for me to stop, but that if I did, my life would be so much better. She had no idea this was what she was teaching me but it was. And after helping me realize this she carried me through the process of beginning to recover and live life without alcohol.
As I said, I would not be who I am without Mariah.
Two things are very hard about this article and they are woven with my addiction and my profession as a Movement Therapist. I talked about Mariah’s physical presence and related that as a comparison to her essence. After 33 years of a debilitating disease Mariah is robbed of her physical independence and freedom. She relies on care givers to do virtually everything for her because her motor ability is so impaired. To witness her, and the way in which she receives care is profoundly beautiful. The way she lives her ‘dis-ability’ is a testimony to her integrity and courage. She reveals her essence in every movement she makes.
I have always looked for the reality and truth of the human bodily being. This blog, my life, is a quest to understand what is true and authentic. All my work, all my life I have been inspired by the beauty of authenticity. As a dancer and choreographer I sought out movers who expressed their truth in moving. Perfect bodies that were layered in stylization and ego were not beautiful or appealing to me at all. When I choreographed I used athletes, actors and dancers in all shapes and sizes that expressed something pure and real. Most of the other choreographers would use the thinest and most stylized dancers while I always looked for something different to work with and to help express some truth about living and loving in the world.
I talked about how Mariah moves and sounds and looks with the greatest care and respect in order to communicate her essential and profound beauty. How my words came out and looked in print were very painful to read. Painful for me and I am sure painful for Mariah and her family. And for that I am so incredibly sorry. I meant to share how deeply beautiful Mariah is and it read as if she is something she is not. I wish I could take that back and say something less metaphoric and more palatable.
This is very hard for me to write and I know I will not push the ‘publish’ button for I while. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is because of the shame I feel speaking so openly about my disease of addiction. Perhaps it is because of the deep shame I feel about hurting Mariah and the impact that may have had on her and her family. I am embarrassed and I can’t change it now.
I wish I could have a do-over.
Saying that I realize that I wanted to be totally honest about Mariah. I wanted to show how strong and powerful she is. And mostly, I wanted to share with someone who didn’t know her the vastness and depth of her character. And that she is so much bigger and more beautiful than anyone would ever know from looking at her. She is a beacon of light and love and hope. And she changes lives and saves lives. She saved me.
So what would Cindy do in this situation? Cindy, would continue to love. No matter what. She would tell me it’s okay and she would forgive me. She would also forgive herself if she did something she wasn’t happy about. She would love herself and go on. She would not dwell in shame and guilt. She would not let those feelings hurt her present life. She would move on and find joy.
That is also what Mariah would do.
Through this, that is what I am hoping to do. Please, in your heart, forgive me and wish me the courage to forgive my self.