I took the Landmark Forum that began on September 14, 2001 in Washington, DC. I signed up for the course in July with my husband, Brian, who was a lot more excited about going the course than I was.
When we got there, everyone seemed friendly, which was strange to me given that we had just suffered through the terrorist attack on the Pentagon four days prior, and it had left me closed off and afraid of people. The course started promptly at 9 a.m., and the leader acknowledged right off the bat the elephant in the room, the terrorist attacks that had just occurred on Tuesday and had affected the nation deeply. She prodded us to share whatever we needed to say to get that complete, and several people had a lot to say about the attacks. Looking back, I don’t remember the specifics of what was said, but what I do remember is that walking in that morning; I was very frustrated, upset, and afraid to be with people after what had happened in my adopted city that week, and walking out during the first break, I had a sense of being related to and connected with people again; I was again empowered to stand for what I believed in…the good in humankind and the greatness of our nation and our society.
The course began in earnest for me on Saturday, when the leader challenged me to call my parents and get complete with them. It was not difficult to do with my dad, because he and I were always very close. I called him on the first break, thanked him for the great job he did raising me, and told him how much I loved him. I wimped out on calling my mom on that first break, and I couldn’t quite put a finger on why. During the second part of Saturday (there are roughly four parts per day), we had the opportunity to look at where we were “inauthentic,” meaning that we say one thing when we’re feeling another. I saw that what was keeping me from calling my mom is that I didn’t want to admit how “inauthentic” I was with her.
Through the exercises of day two of the Landmark Forum, I saw that as an adolescent, I created the pattern of laying the blame of everything that was wrong in my life on my mom. It was her fault that I struggled with weight issues, it was her fault that my parents got divorced, and it was her fault that my little sister and brother drove me nuts growing up. I also saw that this pattern of blame had never ended, and at 28 years old, married and living 3,000 miles from home, I was still blaming my mother for things in my life that she now had nothing to do with and no influence on! When I saw that, I saw the whole insanity of it, that I would keep blaming my mom for things she had nothing to do with, that in blaming her, I was not taking responsibility for my life, that it is so automatic as a human being to point the finger elsewhere, and that I could, in an instant, point the finger inward and take responsibility for my life and have a real say in how my life goes.
Once I saw this, I called my mom on the next break and apologized for what a jerk I’d been. She was amazing, took it all in stride and told me how she loved me and how she’d always been so proud of me when I was growing up. I’m sure she’d said that to me before, but I could never hear it until that day. That was the beginning of a brand new relationship between me and my mom that’s been amazing.
I rarely think about events in my childhood anymore in terms of how they’re impacting me today, when I used to do that ALL THE TIME.
Once those childhood stories were out of my way, I all of a sudden had the freedom to create my adult life. Once I’d given up those stories about my “difficult childhood”, I saw that I actually had a fun time as a kid, and it opened me up to the possibility of having children. Not much more than a year after the Landmark Forum, my husband and I welcomed my first daughter into our family! Now we’ve got three daughters, and my mom lives 15 minutes away and visits at least a couple times a week.
I got all of that out of the Landmark Forum, but most importantly I got that I am the creator of how I experience life, and my experience of all of it, the kids, mom close by, etc., is great!
I highly recommend this course for anyone who is up for unforseen breakthroughs, freedom to be, and personal growth in their life!