The Week I Became a Healer, Even Though I Didn’t Know it Yet

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In the spring of 2006, if you had asked me what I believed in when it came to the ethereal, the answer was: “Not much.” At that time, I didn’t think much about energy or spirituality (I had never heard of or experienced energy healing), and life seemed to drum on as it needed to, more or less.

That year, I had started a new career in a new city. I was working in intelligence, a pretty isolating choice in itself. On top of that, I had moved across the country from the extremely hippie-granola Eugene, Oregon, to its career- and power-oriented cultural opposite, Washington, DC.

Oregon had been an oasis of friends, cool weather, peaceful mountain streams, and a sense of earthly belonging I hadn’t experienced nearly enough up until then. But Washington was where my dreams of adventures and meaningful contributions to a turbulent political world promised to make themselves reality.

I was experiencing a pretty strong fight within myself. A fight between the parts of me that loved politics, foreign countries, languages, feeling like I was doing something important on a grand global scale, and the parts of me that loved mountains, coffee, trees, the earth, and a sense of home.

Not that these loves were mutually exclusive per se. But the extreme contrasts I was experiencing between the lifestyle I had given up and the one I had chosen to pursue were making me feel as though I had no way to turn that wouldn’t somehow make me feel like I was either unalterably alone or otherwise giving up something that I longed for in my heart.

Ever been in a place like that?

I was in a lot of pain, and the level of anxiety and depression I was experiencing had reached extremes I didn’t know were possible. So, how did I get out? I didn't, immediately. But I did very quickly learn the insight that would eventually unbury me.

It was in late November of that year, nine months after I had made the choice to move, and something had to give.

I remember the moment of change exactly. I was in the kitchenette of the Logan Circle studio apartment from which I could never quite eliminate the smell of old carpeting and cigarette smoke.

By the grace of something, from one moment to the next, I went from feeling sorry for myself to something inside me wising up and saying: “Mary, why are you complaining? You got everything you wanted. You’re young, educated, healthy, living in one of the most dynamic cities in the world. You’re living your dream. You have everything you need. Start appreciating it instead of dwelling on what you gave up.”

In that moment, I made a decision: I would start to look for ways to be more giving and generous to others. By giving, I hoped that I would become more appreciative of what I had.

For the first time, I focused on what I had gained instead of what I had lost.

The “giving” exercises were pretty simple. Nothing extreme like renouncing all my possessions for a vow of poverty and service. More like, “I’ll make a casserole for the friend who’s moving his grandparents into a retirement home this weekend.”

But the little stuff I started to do with earnest gratitude had a profound and sudden effect on the way I experienced my life.

Within the week, strange and wonderful things started to happen.

My loneliness immediately transformed, as friends I didn't realize I had began to show up and return the generosity I'd been expressing - to include an impromptu birthday party where I experienced the feeling of home I'd been missing for almost a year (and received gifts of all of my favorite things).

Other little moments of surprise happened throughout the week. Finding money on the sidewalk. A running accident that could have severely injured me but left me unscathed. (And, perhaps more miraculously, unwitnessed! I leapt up from the pavement expecting to be embarrassed by the looks of passersby, and there were no other people to be found on that particular DC block.)

The culmination came when a person I’d secretly been in love with for four years – who had shown no interest in me during that time – spontaneously confessed that he had deep feelings for me as well.

For the first time, I had the thought: There is a force for good in this world, and that force wants me to be happy. Not only that, but I saw also for the first time that it was possible to make inner changes that allow that force to help me more easily.

Something was connected between my change in behavior, my change in mindset, and the new things that were happening around me. You could call it coincidental, you could call it a change in awareness, but I've never been able to shake the feeling that it wasn't coincidental; it felt very deeply like a direct cause and effect phenomenon.

That week of my life was my first real understanding that there is a connection between our inner energetic state and our outer circumstances, as well as our ability to show up effectively for others. What we do matters, there's no question about that. But our state of being - this matters, too, often more than we give it credit for.

Several weeks after the initial experience, I explained to a friend what had happened. She thought I was reiterating something I had learned from the movie The Secret. I had never heard of The Secret. I just knew that a lot of seemingly unconnected things had taken place in a very connected-feeling way in a short period of time.

If you follow stuff like “The Secret” and other “law of attraction” teachings, you might think that this story ends with me striking it rich, marrying the guy, and living out the rest of my days creating the life of my dreams. That’s not exactly what happened.

You’ve probably come across some “law of attraction” gurus for whom that’s ostensibly the end of the story. Not for me! Because really, how do you go - within about three days - from one of the most anxious, depressing periods of your life, to believing that Spirit loves you, your long-lost love wants to be with you, money appears on the street, you’re safe from physical harm, and friends you didn’t know you had will shower you with love and gifts at a moment’s notice?

Most of us don’t. It takes a little more than that.

That initial insight about inner energetic changes started me on a new path, but there was a lot that I still didn’t grasp about how we heal in order to achieve that kind of peace I had momentarily experienced. I wasn’t ready to accept all of the good that was being offered to me, and there were many more forces at play in and around me that I was still learning to understand and work with.

The up-until-then love of my life became unwilling to pursue a relationship, even though he professed to share my feelings. I continued to feel like I didn’t belong in my line of work, continuously pursuing roles and promotions that left me feeling empty and alone. My health slowly deteriorated until I reached a point where I was constantly exhausted and in chronic physical pain, with no clear explanation for it.

From a mental standpoint, I slid back to where I had started and then some! I went from heaven back to hell almost as quickly as I had made the initial jump, and it was much worse falling into that dark place the second time, I can assure you. It took me a lot longer than a few days to pull myself out after what felt like an involuntary emotional cliff-jump.

But here's the good news! That second time, I started from an even lower place, but I was more determined than ever to get out and stay out.

It is without exaggeration that I can say this: Everything, and I mean every single thing, I have done in my life from that moment on has been an attempt to understand how we get ourselves back into a place of connection and generosity, into those places of alignment. From spiritual practices to diet changes to therapy to sky diving to career changes. Journaling and gratitude lists. Service trips and volunteering and social activism. A 500-mile bike ride. Graduate school. Cross-country moves. Drinking. Sobriety. Relationships. Solitude. Supplements and anti-depressants. Saving money and wasting it. Making new friends and cutting a few out when I had to. Even the things that didn’t look remotely healing or helpful to the world, they were all in pursuit of one goal. I tried everything I could think of to get myself back to the feeling that created what is, to this day in my mind, one of the most magical weeks of my life. All I wanted to know was how we heal from our wounds and missteps to achieve what our souls truly want for us.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that week put me on the path that would eventually lead me to my role as a healer and intuitive, working to help deliver some of the lessons that I’ve picked up along the way - through experience, and also through the veritable army of healers, therapists, teachers, friends, business leaders, doctors, strangers, authors, and speakers that I have learned from and continue to learn from.

My life is not perfect. Like many healers, I teach what I myself have had to learn, as well as things that I am still learning, and will be for the rest of my life. What I can say is that my life in its current form is a night-and-day improvement from where I was in 2006, thanks be to that week and to the forces for good that made it possible.

Peace, ease, gratitude, acceptance, flow . . . Whatever you want to call it, I believe that every human on the planet is seeking the feeling that I experienced during that magical week. That need is what drives every good and bad action we take throughout our lives. Maybe it’s a pretty lofty goal, but my aim as a healer is to help my clients find that feeling more often and more powerfully.