Tell me a bit about how SHARE was conceived.
Basically, it was conceived because last year, I had been going through my own personal struggle. I was clearly aware that my past pain was contributing to my present pain. It was a bit disconcerting, because I thought I had resolved a lot of my past pain, a lot of my core issues from the past. It was clear I didn't. So, in order to heal myself, I went to therapy, I did all the things you're supposed to do to heal yourself. ... I did exercise; I did body work with a personal trainer; I did journaling, medication--all those things.
I was doing all those things, and then, a couple months ago, it occurred to me that one thing that I was missing was sharing my truth and sharing myself and my struggle with people like me. So I looked around in the community for a group to join. There were AA and Al-Anon and those sorts of things. I had been a past participant many, many years ago. But the concept of powerlessness and unmanageability--at this point in my life--was not something that I wanted to hone in on. I wanted to really, in a way, empower myself. I didn't want to feel powerless. I knew that to (empower myself) was the way to joy and purpose in my life. So, I thought to myself, what do all these groups have in common? What's the underlying common thing that they all have?
And that is?
What they all have in common is they have the same core issues. Regardless of whether you're chemically dependent or dependent on food or emotionally dependent, whether you're in AA, Al-Anon, NA (Narcotics Anonymous), whatever--we all have the same core issues. And that's what I really wanted to address: core issues like abandonment, trust and shame in a very, very positive and validating way. ... So, I thought, why not form a group, based on the principles of empowerment and healing yourself? At our first meeting, we had about 12, 15 people--gay, lesbians, transgendered, young, old. It was really nice to see the middle-aged people there, because I think a lot of times, people at that age think, "Ah, well--the past is the past. I'm going to let it lie. I don't want the drama. Why dredge it up? It's too late in life." The truth is that it's never too late in life to address the past.
What's a typical meeting like?
A typical meeting is a welcome, explaining the concept of the group, how it was formed, why it was formed and how it differs from a 12-step group. ... (I) pick a topic each week, one of the core issues--whether it be abandonment, change, trust, whatever--and I'll bring in a reading on the topic. I'll read it and pass it out to the group, and then we'll go around, and you can either choose to participate and share what's going on with you, or you can pass. Once someone tells a story, the other members kick in with positive things. ... Everybody validates that person and shores them up. I'll kind of summarize the topic and share all of the positive things we just discussed. I'll also share what I call the "Pathway to Healing," which is exercises or tools you can use to overcome those issues. I'll recommend readings or useful Web links. ... We have a little library. People are able to check out books and bring them back. Each week, I try to have something for the group, whether it's a DVD or CD or whatever, so they have a takeaway as well. Once a month, we'll have a guest speaker.
Next month, we'll have a Reiki master and talk about positive ways in which you can heal and empower yourself. The following month, we may have an event, like golf or hiking or whatever. It'll be fun to do different things together, I think. Sharing our stories and validating each other in a group is important, but it's also important to go out and have fun, exercise and commune together.