Elisa M. Thomas
I was a beautiful child but I learned early on not to be too beautiful. People would either get angry with me or take advantage of me – physically, emotionally and definitely spiritually. Unfortunately, there was no one in my life as a teenager either to protect me or to set me straight about who I was and what I could expect. There were manipulators instead who liked using guilt and shame to put me in my place. I learned not to take up too much room.
As a child, I was naturally talented in and loved math! I couldn’t wait to get the latest math workbooks or Highlights magazines where math problems were prominent. I’d usually finish them by the end of the day and always be looking for more.
But relationships have always been a struggle for me. I never really understood my role in them. I was always focused on the other person first, trying to make them like me-trying to figure out what they were looking for in me so I could make them happy by giving it to them. This way I could feel peaceful like I was at least OK for the moment and doing something right.
Dancing as Fast as I Could
This worked for a while but inside I knew full well that I was just surviving. The part of me that knew I deserved better cringed! And I started to learn the rules for relationships- you need to play SMALL. Otherwise, people feel threatened by you, angry and usually try to make you feel guilty for just being you! I learned how to bargain -“I will gladly give up my reality and my sense of self-esteem so that you can feel more comfortable in your world.” After I made that trade, I felt so weak and small, unworthy and sad. I felt burdened by all the work I thought I needed to do in relationships, so after a while, it just wasn’t worth it anymore. It was too much work. I kept quiet and mainly to myself .
I eventually took a job as an accountant after I got my BA in Management with Accounting as a sub-concentration and worked my way up to Finance Manager in a well know non-profit, making sure to keep my debits by the window, credits by the door…and then…something big happened. After a serious bout with office politics, I decided in sheer desperation to go out on a limb and enter into a conversation with the universe (quite literally) for what I wanted in my life. I had nothing to lose.
The Answer Came
Eventually, the Voice I was speaking to answered me. The storm inside me calmed -finally, for the first time in my life I felt sane and safe, like someone or something heard me. Sounds corny, I know. A voice inside assured me that I was enough – innocent, worthy. I had a knowingness that I could let go of what the world was telling me was true about me, that I couldn’t rely on anything I thought was “real” or solid in this world. I needed to and start tapping into what I knew to be intuitively true. I asked the universe for nothing less than the truth and it came! Some part of me started to believe that I could relax. I’d been working overtime!
A relationship with myself came first as it often does. A core part of me recognized who I had been all along never vulnerable to what looked like (and felt like!) abuse, but innocent, not a body but actually free of it, and capable of intense connection with all of creation. The projections of shame the world attempted to saddle me with were nothing but shadows in a bad nightmare. All I had to do was wake up!
Grit and Breakthroughs
No matter how convincing an argument the world made for my guilt and core deficits, I knew deep within my heart that I was innocent. I understood that all that anybody really wants in life is to be accepted and loved for who they are.
I was given the realization that this is the reason we are here – to detach from what is making us all miserable and is not true and to start to learn who we really are.
Many years later, going back to school at age 50 was delightful -my passion and interest only multiplied over the three years I was in graduate school. I felt like I had no choice; this was my work. I was on my way to the career that aligned with what I truly believed and I could help so many more people find the answers they were looking for – all coming to the final realization that who they are is innocent, loving and good enough. Everything else I’d done up to this point was in preparation for this big step.
The reward for my work was a Masters Degree in Counseling with a Transpersonal Emphasis. The essential healing element of this branch of psychology is having a deep connection with the higher Self or the Divine. I could no longer pretend that my connection with the spirit world was no important. I had too many close encounters for that to be the case. As we experience nonjudgmental support from our Source, we internalize it and are able, in humility, to be know and fully be ourselves, stepping into our strengths and acknowledging our challenges. We are, in effect, intensely spiritual beings in a world that has the appearance of being constant, reliable and “solid” and is offered as the only game in town. When in fact, that simply isn’t true!
On the Right Track
I did my professional internship in Berkeley, California in a small adult outpatient therapy center, working with individuals, families, and groups of people facing substance abuse issues, codependency in relationships, problems related to emotional eating patterns, family conflicts, poor self-esteem, anxiety, depression, grief and more.
I acquired my experience hours for licensure as an LMFT in Arizona as a program therapist for a girl’s therapeutic boarding school, working with teenagers and their families. After fulfilling the required hours and supervision necessary I was granted my license in Arizona in January of 2011. Since then, I have secured my license as an LMFT in both New Mexico and North Carolina as well.
Life Long Learning
I opened my private practice in Sedona the following month and have been working with individuals and relationship counseling ever since. I continue to seek out and learn about current methodologies for best practice in couples work and individual trauma work to augment my experience. But what I know at my core is that you can’t have a satisfying relationship with anyone else until you have one with yourself first!
I have completed training in Pia Mellody’s Post Induction Therapy, Level 1 Training in the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy: Integrating Attachment, Differentiation and Neuroscience offered by the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, CA, as well as Imago couples work created by Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt.