Internal Conversations

I’m not sure if anyone else’s brain works this way, but my brain seems to have 2 opposing versions of itself that have conversations inside my brain. Have I lost you? Let me explain…

The other day I woke up crazy tired after 3 nights of restless sleep. Below is the adult version of me telling the kid version of me what’s up. 

Kid me: I’m so tired. Let’s have coffee today! 
Adult me: No. You had coffee yesterday and if you have coffee again today you have no chance of sleeping tonight. 
Kid me: But I’m so tired. What if I just have a little? It’s only like 8am. That should be totally ok. 
Adult me: No. You can’t have coffee. Get in the shower. You have to get ready for work. Stop complaining. 
Kid me: Ok, well if I can’t have coffee can I stop for a donut on the way to work? 
Adult me: No! You can’t have a donut. What are you, 7? You need real breakfast. You are having eggs. 
Kid me: Ok, how about cereal? Can I have cereal instead of eggs? 
Adult me: *rolls metaphorical eyes…no…you will have eggs. You like eggs. They are good for you and if you have a donut you will just want more sugar, you will be hungry all day and you will continue to make bad choices and likely drink coffee too. 
Kid me: But come on. I’m so tired and everything sucks. I want coffee. And a donut. And I don’t want to work on emails today either. I wanna play dinosaurs with Pico!!! YEAH!!!! DINOSAURS AND PANDAS!!! YAY! 
*I continue to get ready and not play dinosaurs but begrudgingly and slowly. 
Adult me: Great. Now we are late. You took too long getting ready. I guess cereal is the best option at this point, but no coffee! 

and then on my way to work I stop and get coffee because the adult version of me is terrible at keeping the kid me in line and all of a sudden I’m super grateful I don’t have any actual kids. 

I find it fascinating that I have this internal dialog that seems to come from competing sides of an argument. I guess I’m just glad there aren’t any more versions in there than 2. Does anyone else experience thought like this? 

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 
Samantha (:

Boxes

Throughout our lives we have moments of weakness
We have thoughts that are too much to deal with
We crush our fears, insecurities and even our aspirations
Into tiny boxes to be dealt with by our future selves

We say we can’t
We aren’t good enough
We aren’t strong enough
We just aren’t ready
We don’t deserve it

The space we need to let go…
To move forward and reach our potential
Is taken up by the boxes of our past
With one box too many an explosion happens
We are forced to face what we have hidden

We cry
We scream
We beg it to stop
We wish the box would stay shut
But we know the only real option is to
Acknowledge, understand, accept…
Let it go

Those who are willing to open all the boxes  
To uncover the innermost parts of their true selves
Become the leaders, inventors, and game changers
They have the enterprising ability to change the world

As the seasons change and the years pass
I vow to you,
I will be here as we both open our boxes
uncovering what we have hidden from ourselves

I will allow you to see my every fear, insecurity and yet unfulfilled dream
I will support you through the best and worst moments of yours as well

Until everything is unpacked

Until we no longer feel the need to put things in boxes

You and I will change the world

Together

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 

Samantha 

3 Months Later

Three and a half months ago I was taken by a police officer to the hospital. I was at the lowest point in my life, and I had lost control. I completed outpatient treatment and have continued to see a counselor as I progress to a state of normalcy. 

Many of you have followed my story and have shown me so much support and kindness through this journey. Thank you. First and foremost, thank you. Please know that every like, every comment, every message and ever thought has absolutely been helpful and more valuable than I could possibly express. Going through the challenges I faced is something I would not have survived on my own. Please continue to show your love and support and I will do the same. 

Work life: 

A lot has happened through this madness, and I am really excited about it all. I was able to finish training with our first male cuddler, Cam, who is now accepting clients and changing lives. I am so glad he is on the team. I am proud of his progress with the training program, and I have already seen him utilize his new found snuggle skills to help make things better for many people. It’s nice to see him putting the concepts I teach into use. 

I had also been tasked with completing negotiations, signing paperwork and creating a full online certification program for a new company that is launching soon in the midst of all my madness. This was incredibly challenging and brought me to tears many times trying to figure out my self worth, determine if it was even possible to create a safe and simple online course for what I do and to complete all of this while I was reemerging from my outpatient care cocoon. This program that they absolutely had to have in the middle of my breakdown has now sat around unused for months due to trademarking issues. Oh well. Its time will come. At least I feel great about the work I did and was able to prove to myself that I am strong and worthy of the good things I tell myself. 

I am also going to be hiring again soon…well as soon as I can finish taxes for the company and myself. I can’t wait to bring in a few more people to help create the diversity I am looking for in our staff. 

Noticing how much healthier I am when I get to be a person and not just a persona I have also maintained fairly well taking actual days off to person. I have cut down my hours at the studio and am now taking Tues/Wed off most weeks. It feels really good to have the time and energy to keep my house clean, cook, hike, journal, read, watch tv, and anything I darn well please. 

Financially we are back on track, and by back on track I mean we have been able to overcome the huge deficit caused by me not being able to work and we are back to the point where we are able to pay all of the bills minus a salary for myself as has been the case since we opened. It feels sort of good to know that I do all of this for free. I get paid in love and hugs and the satisfaction that I get to make someone’s day a little brighter. Until my credit cards are maxed out, this is all that I need. We will get to the point where I can start taking a salary, just not yet. I am not worried and you shouldn’t be either. Things work out. We always find a way (:

Personal life: 

Boy oh boy what a journey this has been. Looking back I can’t believe how far I’ve come in such a short time. It feels like a lifetime ago that this happened. The first few weeks I could barely eat and did nothing but self care 24/7. What an interesting experience to loose one’s mind. That is where I ended up, and I am grateful. It’s the moments when we test ourselves that we get to see the true intricacies of how we function. I got to be a witness to the repair and reparations as my mind regained control and discovered the incredible person who pulls the strings (me). As someone who never shies away from a challenge and almost never doubts herself, I got to discover a part of me that I had never seen before. This broke me in a way that I didn’t even know was in the realm of possibilities. When I left my marriage I thought nothing could be worse than the devastation of a decade of negative self-judgment, insecurities, and neglect. Life sure has a way of testing me whenever my mindset becomes static. As soon as I am certain things cannot get worse here comes the universe to remind me of impermanence. “Oh, btw Sam, you know how you thought that thing that almost destroyed you was the worst thing ever, well we’ve got a new one of those for you.” -The Universe. But I suppose that’s the great thing about impermanence, everything always changes at some point. Lucky for us as humans we are resilient and malleable and evolutionary and 12 other words that mean we win at bad-assery. 

I did regain control of my mind pretty quickly, but with the consequences of PTSD in effect. I couldn’t multitask anymore, to the point of not even being able to listen to the radio while I drove. I became very basic in my tasks and did my best to routinize my life to help get a baseline. I woke up and meditated, went for a walk, took a shower, tried to eat something (anything please), I would journal, stretch, sit and just be, reach out for support, read, walk, journal, try to eat again, make tea…I couldn’t even watch tv. It was too much at first. Eventually I made it back to a fairly normal life for myself. After about 2 weeks I was able to eat real meals again, and even listen to the radio in my car sometimes. 

Once I adapted to being me again I set up new routines to keep myself focused on growth and self care. I started a 12 week training program with the goal of 10 pull ups…I made it 7 weeks and for the first time in my life I can do a pull up! I started dating again and figuring out what I want and need from that part of my life. I started hiking again!!!! I miss being in nature so much. The business has been such an enormous part of my life for so long and with relationships filling the rare free time I had, my sense of self got lost in the mix. I had forgotten what I had given up in order to make my life work. It feels so good to remember that I like things and that’s ok. I can read when I want to read. I can go for a hike at 6am if I want to go for a hike at 6am. I can sleep in…ok, that one isn’t true, but only because my body is refusing to cooperate haha. I cook what I want, clean what I want, go to bed when I want. I don’t have to consider what is best for anyone else. 

In November I started seeing a counselor who has been an incredible help to me. I was nervous going on because his background was super religious and I am not of any faith. This became a non issue as I discovered he was simply a professional who wanted to help me. I still see him every 2 weeks and thus far my biggest revelation was this: I no longer feel the need to find my happily ever after because I already have it. I had spent my life up until this point determined that finding a life long partner would make me happiest. The thing I didn’t realize before my counseling sessions was that the reason I felt so strongly the urge to have this happily ever after was because my whole life I had felt abandoned by almost every strong male figure in my life and having a life partner allowed me to feel the security of someone who wouldn’t abandon me. Woah. This was huge for me. Now I go along knowing that no matter what I’ve got me and I am my own Prince Charming. Anyone who comes into my life from now on will stay as long as it works and will go when it doesn’t. This is a huge relief for me. It doesn’t mean I am against LTR’s or that I want to be non-monogamous (although this experience did open me up to explore the possibility which I very quickly discovered is not for me after all). It simply means that no matter what, I am good. I can now have abundance without attachment. Obviously I’m human and I will have my moments, but overall this concept of impermanence has empowered me to truly take responsibility for my own happiness or misery. Either way, it’s on me. I love this! 

Day to day I am back at a place where the pendulum swings are pretty close to the middle, but I’m ready for the next big wave. Whenever it comes, whatever way the wind blows, I will be ready. I will take a breath, collect my thoughts and allow the healthy me to ebb and flow with the changing tides. Out of the ashes arose the Phoenix and it feels good. 

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 
Samantha

Day off…

Today I had a day off…an actual full, do whatever I want, day off! I cleaned my house, putting things away with the pride of a homeowner, made myself delicious healthy food, completed a myriad of tasks on my never ending to do list, and then instead of taking a walk in the gloomy grey afternoon I reinvented myself through a reflection of who I have been, what I have done and where I am going next. It turned into a beautiful collage on my wall with photographs of myself throughout my happiest moments in life, drawings and paintings I have created and a few other notes of inspiration filled with color, chaos and spaces for new things to be added. I look up at it from behind my computer and smile. Today I am proud of who I am. My memories remind me of my strength and keep me moseying along in the direction of my whispering intuition.

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 
Samantha 

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A brief history of my dating life…

As a recent returnee to the wide world of online dating, I thought I would share my perspective and advice on this subject. To start though, I thought I might share a brief history of my dating life. 

*Names have been changed or removed all together and some details have been altered out of respect for those involved. 

I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 20. We had been together for 5 years already. We got along very well, but had what I came to learn was an extremely unhealthy and codependent relationship that left me feeling neglected, broken and heart-achingly isolated. I left him at the age of 28 (I’m now 31), and had to learn how to date for the first time in my life.

I had spent the last 4 years of my marriage contemplating leaving, so by the time I actually did, I had done all my mourning. I started dating almost immediately as I set out to discover who I was, what I wanted and what made me happy. 

As an unseasoned single woman, I was surprised to discover that almost every one of my male friends felt the need to throw their name in the hat. Not wanting to complicate an already challenging situation I opted not to date any of my friends. I started with a friend of a friend. That went on for a couple months and ended fairly amicably. 

3 months later I decided upon the advice of one of my best girlfriends and decided to try this online dating thing. As someone who has (or at least had) decent grammar skills, a kick ass personality and a smile that almost no one can resist I had no problem finding all sorts of people to date. I went into this with the concept of simply wanting to know what dating was like and to learn what types of people I might find out in this lovely world. 

Apparently my lack of dating experience was helpful as I seemed to be much less jaded than most of those around me .

As a 28 year old woman who had cute pictures and a decently articulated profile, I would get between 20-30 messages a day on average with spikes up to 400 in a day depending on the images I had up. As I have come to discover, I am one of the rare women who actually sends first messages to those I find intriguing. The breakdown of messages I would receive first would equate to this:

40% One liners i.e. hi, hello, your hot, sup, yo, hey, how was your day?, etc..

30% Men blatantly asking for sex 

10% Men who did nothing but tell me about themselves (and usually with poor grammar)

10% Clearly copied and pasted messages that were super generic and were automatically deleted for lack of effort

10% Men who read my profile and actually wrote more than a sentence and included something from my profile 

Of the 10% of men who actually wrote something that didn’t make me want to run away screaming, maybe 10% of those were men who were actually interesting enough to start conversations with. Of the 10% of the 10% I actually wrote back to maybe 30% of them would turn into conversations worth exploring. Basically, it’s extremely rare for a connection to be made when someone messaged me first. On the other side, when I would send messages I would get messages back probably half of them and wound up actually meeting way more people I had met first than who had messaged me. All that being said I still wound up finding enough people to go on 100 dates in 3 months. Yes, that is more than 1 a day. I was one of those people. Every single evening I had a date with some new person. About 80% of those were 1st dates, maybe 15% 2nd dates, and the rest 3rd dates. No one made it past that in my initial online dating run.

I wound up staying technically single for about 8 months with random bouts of being excited about online dating, hating online dating, hiding/deleting my account, getting back on online dating, hating myself, hating everyone around me, having a lot of fun, having my hopes and dreams smashed, crying, deciding being single was awesome, eating ice cream without pants on, wondering if I would ever find anyone to love again, realizing how awesome I was, feeling sorry for myself for being a single loser, and finally letting go of the need to actually have a romantic partner before I found someone I clicked with (not online btw).  

That started my first relationship outside of my marriage and it lasted just over a year. We didn’t have much in common, but we both loved to laugh and cuddle. That was enough for me..until it wasn’t. I ended up spending A LOT of time, effort and money on someone who really didn’t deserve me. I loved him, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you why. When things ended with us we parted ways with him owing me $700, and yet another feeling of inadequacy and abandonment on my part. 

I immediately wound up finding my next boyfriend which lasted just under a year. I met him on POF and did everything you shouldn’t do when attempting to find a real partner- I sent him a one line message with a generic compliment about his cute dimples.  This one ended with the story from my earlier blog post with all the trauma. I’m healthy and happy again, so in the end it all worked out for the best. 

So here I am, just over 3 years out of my marriage and back in the dating pool. I have been on maybe 150 dates stemming from online dating in the last 3 years and 2/3rd’s of that time has been spent in monogamous relationships. About half of the people I dated more than 3 times were folks I met in real life. The most meaningful relationship I’ve ever had came from POF. The longest one from real life. All in all, I have learned a lot, grown a lot and now I am in the process of doing more of all of that. I may eventually share some more specific stories of interactions I’ve had in the dating realm, but for now at least you have peeked into my past and seen the basics of what has brought me to today. 

Be on the lookout for my online dating blog soon as well as a general update in the next couple weeks. I am excited to share my experiences and to learn some of yours as well. If you are comfortable please leave a comment and let me know what you think or tell me about your experiences. 

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 
Sam 

Pendulum swings

Here I am, going through more pendulum swings, but knowing they are productive. I’ve had a lot of you reach out and tell me you are worried about me after reading my past entries. Please know this, when I write something out, when I talk it out and meditate on it, I release it (even if only momentarily). I do these things because the chaos in my head becomes unruly if I don’t get it out. The thoughts and struggles I have are like a boiling kettle, without the whistle of steam, it would all just boil over. Once I write it, I let it go. The thoughts no longer plague me in those moments after expressing them. Sure, they come back, as history often does, but the sharing, writing, and expressing are a part of the process that allows me to stay healthy and whole day to day. 

With what I do, I do not have the luxury of bringing my personal life to work with me. I have to check it at the door if I am to be there fully for others. Before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning, I have to get all the crazy out. haha. But seriously. So please, do not worry about me moment to moment. Know I am taking care of myself and doing what is right for me. 

That being said, I have a bit to get through before going to sleep tonight, so here’s where I’m at today…

I’m going to bed tonight for the first time knowing that there is zero chance I will find my way back to my ex-boyfriend. I still adore him as a person, and this will likely always be the case. But now I get to release all the stress, drama and pain from that relationship and move forward- for real. It hurts, but it is also nice. We are both moving on and finding our paths. 

It’s so funny how I process all this so logically. I called my best friend after I got home tonight crying from this freshly opened wound and talked myself in circles until I had the light bulb moment of accepting all the individual pieces for what they were, accepting that I have to go through one last grieving process, feel all the feels and then I can let go. 

I am only now realizing how logical I am. I have never been a “sensitive” person, but I also never saw myself as unemotional…heck, I am certainly anything but that haha. I do work through things very logically though and when it makes sense, I accept it. It’s kind of nice. It’s like I take all the incoming information and immediately process it to the appropriate category (or box for those of you who know me), and then handle the boxes as needed. That’s why the pendulum swings don’t make sense to me- conflicting thoughts are illogical. But it also means that I will sit and think about them until a conclusion is drawn. This makes it so I process through emotional turmoil in a lightning fast way most of the time. The things I’ve dealt with over the last 5 or so weeks has been crazy intense, but somehow I already feel like I’ve dealt with the bulk of it. In the day to day stuff, I feel great. I literally caught myself dancing yesterday morning while folding laundry haha. Yes, I laughed out loud and then danced more. My life is awesome. I have amazing people around me. I am amazing. I am happy. I feel good. I look good. Today, I have had more pendulum swings, but I got to work through them and now I get to go to bed high-fiving this rock star because she did great work today! Yes, I just sang a little I’m awesome song in my head. It happens. I get to go to bed feeling good. Knowing that I’ve done everything I could. Knowing that my latest relationship ends with no regrets. I have done everything I could. I just get another chance to find someone who appreciates all the amazing qualities I have. 

The last thing I want to do before I go to sleep is this: 

Tell you I love you. I respect you. I am grateful for you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for being exactly who you are in this moment. You are good enough. You are strong. You are capable, and no matter what, you are loved. 

Peace, Love and Cuddles, 
Sam Hess

More contemplative than thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. The last few years I have done sort of the opposite of traditional Thanksgiving activities and I have spent the day alone, being grateful for me. Maybe that sounds callous, but I spend every day of my life being thankful for everyone and everything around me…often paying little attention to myself in this respect. Today, however, I sit here and work away. It has been a month since my life got flipped upside down. So much has been stripped away from the life I knew before that day. I’m sitting here trying to create something I am proud of. This project will change the world. In a real way. It will give people all over the world access to my industry as well as provide at least the basics of how to do what I do in a truly professional and secure way…or least I hope it will. 

Looking back over the last month, the last year, the last 3 years the last decade and beyond I realize that I have overcome a lot. I have been brave and strong and caring and good. I have been there for others, even when it felt like no one was there for me. I have given more than what I truly had to give. I have seen the world through the stories and eyes of so many. Yet, somehow it doesn’t seem like enough. I am so ready for things to just be good. For something, anything to just be easy. But it’s not. Every direction there is another pitfall; another obstacle waiting, hoping to take me down. Why? Why does it have to be so damn hard?

Over the last week or so I have worked hard on letting go of the future I held so dear with the man who longer wants me in his life. The man who thinks I am abusive. Than man who I still somehow can’t be angry with. I wish I could just hate him. It would be so much easier. Instead I sit here and lack the ability to understand what was so terrible between us that he had to go. I want so badly to make it my own fault because at least that I could control. If it was my fault, I could take responsibility and learn from it. I could forgive myself. But no. There is no blame to be had here. It’s no one’s fault. It happened. Nothing else matters. Logically I know this. I feel this. But my heart still won’t accept it. We had so much fun together. He was there for me through so much, and I for him. We grew and challenged each other. He went around introducing me as “the one” to so many of his friends. We hadn’t even been together for a year, and yet we were basically living together, planning a family and figuring out the rest of our lives. 

Everything ended so abruptly. I can’t wrap my mind around it. 

One good thing I’ve learned about myself recently is that the vision I have had in my head my whole life of finding a lifelong partner has finally be extinguished…except for with myself, of course. I now know that I will likely have many “great loves” of my life, and that relationships in my world will last as long as they last and then they will be done. I am never meant to know that kind of everlasting love. Maybe that sounds sad to you, but it’s a relief for me. It means no one can ever destroy me like this has. Or at least, with the rationalization that everything ends, I can at least decide to not be surprised when it does. This is a blessing for me. 

I have had so many incredible people show me love and support over the last month. It has helped so much. Thank you. All of you. I know that I cannot go through my days alone. Maybe I won’t always have a partner, but I will always have my community, my family and the love I have for myself. 

The last piece of the future plan that I held in my head prior to all this is on the edge of breaking. My studio; this space that I have given my life to, has become a part of me. I have worked so long and so hard to create this space that feels good. That allows people to heal. Working here for the last year for free has really been trying for me. This thing I have created and dedicated myself to has been able to help so many, just not myself. 

The fundraising campaign was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve set up my entire life- everything about who I am and what I do, to never have to rely on anyone else. I’m such a hypocrite, I know.  But that is part of why I needed to ask for help. This last month has shown me that the way I was living my life was phony. I can’t do it alone. I don’t expect anyone else to, and I know now that I am no different. I don’t have to be stronger than everyone else around me. Growing up in the household I did, I was afraid constantly of being the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everything was so fragile. I didn’t feel like it was fair for me to pile on. Certainly I would ask for frivolous things: food, clothes, help with school projects, rides…but never the emotional stuff. 

My parents are incredible people. I am very lucky to have grown up the way I did, but honestly, a lot of what I learned was who not to be and what not to do. They gave us love and hugs and provided for us with everything we could possibly need in the day to day stuff. There was a lot of freedom and very little structure. We were encouraged to be ourselves and to experiment with what that meant- what an incredible gift to give a child. But the lack of stability…the bankruptcies, the alcohol, the fights, the lack of responsibilities/ repercussions…they brought me to a place where I didn’t know what was what. I was worried a lot. Even though we had tons of gifts under the Christmas tree each year, I would randomly see the “2nd Notice”  and the “3rd Notice” and the “Shut Off Notice” envelopes in the mail and wonder if we would lose it all someday soon. My parents are artists and they never really knew where the money would come from, only that it would. They somehow always found a way and it was rare that I would notice the struggles overall. I mean, as a teenager, I was self involved to the nth degree. 

I grew up relying on my now ex-husband for emotional support. We talked about everything and helped each other through so much. He was a good man…until he wasn’t. Over the years the lack of touch caused a rift as big as the Grand Canyon. He didn’t see it. He probably still doesn’t get it. That’s ok. The point here is that I grew up in a way where I had all the comforts and first world crap all figured out and that I never had to really dive into the emotional aspects of who I was…until I did. 

I have now dealt with and found closure on: my best friend dying in a plane crash 11 years ago, saying goodbye to my father (who is still alive…long story), my issues with alcohol (well, really my refusal to have any drugs or alcohol in my life due to my mom’s addiction issues- she is now many years sober by the way), my marriage, the impact the 8 car accidents I’ve been through have had on my life, and now my need for a lifelong partner. 

What I still need to get through: my issues with abandonment, my relationship that just ended, and deciding what my life should and will look like in the future. Along with many other things I’m sure I’m unaware of at this point. 

I am a firm believer that if I’m not growing, I am dying and I never want to get to a point where I am done growing as a person. Life is dynamic and I refuse to be static.

I realize this has been a meandering group of tangents, but that’s ok. That’s what I needed right now. My big take away today is this: I am strong. I am capable. I can break. But I will always keep moving. I am letting go of J. I have to. If he wanted me in his life, I would be. Maybe someday I will get a chance to talk to him and get some of my questions answered, but even if not I will still wish him health, happiness and success in all he does. He is a good man and no one can tell me otherwise. My business may fail in the current form. I may lose everything I hold dear. My home. My car. What little security I have left. And it’s ok. I am strong enough to always keep moving. I am down, but not out. 

Today, in the spirit of the holiday, I will ask one more time for anyone who is capable, to help pull us out of this rut to do so by donating here: www.youcaring.com/cuddleuptome  Those who cannot, please know that your support, in any capacity, is absolutely necessary and appreciated. The likes, shares, comments and input is vital to my success, not just as a business, but more importantly, as a person. It’s nice to start to feel like myself again. I’ve got another 20 hours to put into this project before the first so, I better get back to it. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. If I can’t have one person who will witness my journey from start to end, perhaps I can have the hands of the random passers by as they come along. That is enough. You are enough. I am enough. Sending love to me, you and the whole big blue. 

Peace, Love and Cuddles,

Sam Hess

The more objective, less emotional version

It has been just over 3 weeks since I was in the hospital. A lot has happened in that time. I have typed out 22 pages of the experience that brought me to where I am today, and I hope to share it with those who want a full account as I move forward. I am not ready yet and honestly, the logistics of sharing something like that without overwhelming others is something I am putting a lot of thought into. For now though, I wanted to give you all a basic rundown of events without so much emotion for the simple reason of explaining what I’ve been through and where I am at.

Here we go:

I was invited to a personal development seminar by someone very dear to me. This seminar company has been in this person’s life for 6 years and his whole family has benefited from it. They were aware of my struggling financial situation and offered to cover the cost for me. I took time off of work and ended up going to 2 of the 3 days required. The seminar was a 10 hour a day program, held in a group setting with breaks every few hours and a working lunch. The purpose of the course is to develop and improve the skills needed to create the best possible life for each person.

Over the course of 20 hours, in 2 days, we completed a myriad of exercises in many forms and with many different goals. Many of the exercises included a form of guided visualization, including visualizations from many challenging moments from our own past. We were asked to categorize our personalities and define who we are. We were asked to set SMART goals and to share them with our small groups. None of these things individually would have the power to harm anyone, in my humble opinion at least.

What ended up happening to me was that I relived every painful, harmful and difficult situation throughout my entire life that I could think of…for me, that was a lot. The speaker of the seminar also used negative reinforcement and shame in his teachings. I was even stopped from using the restroom at one point. The temperature of the room changed throughout the day as well, going from hot to cold. As far as I could tell, the staff did their best to regulate temperature, but many participants found it uncomfortable.

By the end of the second day I was overwhelmed and numb. I was not even able to listen to the radio on my way home as it was too much stimulation while I drove. I had a difficult time picking out food at the store for dinner, and by the time I got home, even though I had not eaten much all day, I was not hungry. I poured myself a glass of wine, grabbed my notebook to do my homework and took a bath. As I sat there, my mind reeled at everything I had gone through. I began to lose control of my thoughts. When the person who invited me to the course came over, I was all but lost.

I tried to reconcile my thoughts, but I could not. I tried to talk through it, as that usually helps me. It felt like all of the coping mechanism and closure I had come to know from all of these painful memories had been erased and all that was left was this:

“I am bad. Everything is bad. Everything is supposed to be bad, so I might as well kill myself because the pain that my friends and family will experience is what life is supposed to be.”

At this moment, that was logical, and there was nothing left in my head to counter that argument. Nothing came to mind that would allow me to negate this thought cycle. Every positive thought I had was countered by what I had just learned. Although I still cannot recall this happened, I hit this person who was trying to help me. Knowing this now, I have so much remorse. They attempted to help me by bringing me paper to journal, hoping that if I just thought through it I would snap out of it.

When I got the paper I wrote the word “Why” over and over, page after page. They asked me what I was doing and I explained that it felt nice and I liked the rhythm of writing this word. I disassociated at this point and became the 7 year old version of myself. I spoke in the tone of a child and could not even remember my own name. This person did their best to take care of me as they began to realize the depth of trauma I was experiencing. They brought me to the kitchen and cooked us dinner while I peered just my eyes out over the couch as I watched them cook. I asked questions like “Are you a good person? Am I a good person? What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite thing in the whole world?” I still had butterflies in my stomach. I ate a couple bites of food, but had no interest.

They lead me through one of the visualization exercises from the seminar based on healing. I improved, but was not able to fully recover after that. I wanted to watch a cartoon in hopes of letting my mind rest for a moment to stop the chaos in my brain.

After a little while I was able to speak in my normal voice again and I began to journal for real. This person tried to help me through and let me talk it out, but it soon became apparent that they were exhausted and sleep was the only option for them. I tried to wake them up a couple of times, but didn’t have much luck. I became angry and explained that I didn’t want them in my life anymore. (obviously, this was a poor choice in trying to ask for help by pushing them away when they didn’t know what to do). They ended up leaving, still being very sweet and thanking me for being in their life as long as I was. I lashed out again and thanked them for ruining my life.

I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I texted a dear friend of mine who luckily for me, called me soon after. I explained what was happening as best I could. She gave me an open ear and enough positive reinforcement that I felt like I could find my feet again, if only for a moment. I went to bed, sleeping for 20 or so minutes at a time from 2:30-about 6am.

I went to bed hoping the day before would just be a bad day, and that I would have my right mind again. This was not the case. All the bad thoughts were still there and I still had no connection to my coping skills. I had enough sense in me that I knew there was something wrong and I reached out to the person who had left the night before. I asked them to come hold me. They said no and that after how I treated them I couldn’t get them back. As I later found out, they thought this was a power play and that I was trying to manipulate them. I really just needed help. I kept sending them messages, hoping they would understand that I was not ok.

Without giving too much detail as it may trigger others, I will tell you that this person did end up helping by calling 911. This was the best thing that could have happened, and I am eternally grateful that they did this. The police came and took me to the hospital. I cried and shook uncontrollably for a good hour.

I was admitted fairly quickly at the hospital, maybe 20 or 30 minutes. They had a nurse come by and take down what was happening. A social worker came next. The hospital was all extremely helpful and allowed me to go through this without any shame or judgement. They were all very kind. The social worker allowed me time to explain everything I needed to, and helped me understand that I could decide to essentially throw out everything I learned at the seminar and allow back my life before that happened. It somehow clicked that I could regain control over my thinking and disregard the trauma from the past few days that wasn’t helpful to me.

He offered to put my in the inpatient program, but I didn’t want to be stuck in a hospital. I wanted to be at home. He then offered me an outpatient program as long as I had someone who could stay by my side until I began treatment the next day.

The friend I had spoken to the night before offered to do this for me. She came and picked me up, got me food and let me process in my own way. She took care of me, watched movies with me, went on walks with me, and listened without telling me what to do. I slowly began to come back into my right mind.

By the next morning I was out of the “danger zone” with the self harm thoughts. (They have not returned, and there is nothing to worry about as far as a chance of me harming myself by the way). She came with me to the treatment center and stayed with me while I met with the therapist.

I explained what had happened and all of the trauma from my past in that first hour. Somehow, with this setting, it wasn’t traumatic to explain. She listened, took notes and told me it wasn’t my fault. She explained how dangerous these personal development courses can be and how there are lots of other people who have gone through similar breakdowns due to programs like the one I had just been to.

For the next 2 weeks I worked diligently on self care- making sure I ate at least something 3 times a day, going for walks, stretching, journaling, reaching out to family/friends/online support (thank you by the way). I spent 4 days in the outpatient treatment program over 2 weeks and I met a lot of wonderful people who were also experiencing difficulties in their lives.

I have slowly begun to reincorporate work back into my life and I do feel like myself again. I am taking much better care of myself now, even taking days off. I am back to eating meals instead of a bite of this or that. Still going on walks and working hard to listen to my intuition on how to take care of myself.

A few days ago, the last piece of trauma surfaced from all this and I lost my relationship…or at least he needs a break. This is totally fair and acceptable, but now I have to decide if I have room in my heart to hold hope for that future that seems but a distant memory. Today I am going to meet with a therapist outside of the treatment program for ongoing support. Hopefully he can help me understand myself and my thought process better so that I can continue to make progress and be even healthier than I am now.

Life changes in the blink of an eye. A lesson I seem to learn over and over. Right now, I have the opportunity to redefine who I want to be and what I want in life. This is something I will not take for granted.

Over these last few weeks I have had to ask for help and support in ways I have never been able to before. The biggest lesson I have received is that it’s ok to ask for help, yes, even I get to do this. I don’t have to feel guilty or reciprocate when I don’t have it to give. We all need a turn once in awhile to be the one who needs help. I am so grateful for all of you whom (no matter which version I use, it always sounds wrong haha) have reached out a hand and allowed me to rely on you. The whole point of my business is this:

We all go through moments in life when we feel unloved, unappreciated or just plain lost. We provide a safe and comfortable space for everyone to know they matter.

Now, I have gained this insight for myself as well. Thank you.

I hope to use this blog as a way to continue to connect with all of you and to build a community of support. I will eventually share the 22 pages…or some version of it with those who want to see it, but for now you can expect to see more of what I’ve been through, what I’m going through and where I’m going. I hope you will tune in and share this journey with me.

Life is good with the eternal 7 year old.

Peace, Love and Cuddles,
Sam Hess

Introduction

Hello, 

My name is Sam, better known as Samantha Hess, professional cuddler, author, that girl who hugged NPH on America’s Got Talent, the person who was on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, CNN.com, Yahoo (3 times), and has likely wound up in your Facebook newsfeed (if you have one) for starting a service that will change the world, one hug at a time. 

The reason I wanted to start a blog is because recently I had a very traumatic incident occur in my life, and I wound up in the hospital. I am ok now, but only just getting back on my feet. My experience, above all else, has given me this incredible opportunity to share with the world my struggles in the hopes that others will feel less alone through theirs. We all struggle. We don’t have to do to it alone. 

A few things I want to say up front- I apologize for grammar issues. When I write I tend to do in more of a journal style and I’m mostly too lazy to go back and make corrections. You are always welcome to send me any grammatical issues that drive you crazy. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve had to know any of this stuff, and a lot of it seems to have been replaced with Hexa Blast, Futurama, cookie recipes and internet memes.

I swear. A lot. If this offends you, please feel free to follow me on facebook instead. I am found under Samantha Hess as a public figure (still sounds pretentious, but it keeps things simple for me haha). 

The only other things I will say is that I hope you will take nothing I say as fact, but rather information filtered through my meandering experiences. I will be open and honest, likely more so than what is appropriate, but I prefer to not have a filter unless absolutely required. I am not intentionally here to hurt anyone’s feelings or make anyone feel anything bad in any way. I am simply here to share my thoughts, insights and struggles. You’ll get it all as I believe life is about contrast, and I’ve had lots of that! 

So, come along with me. Read, comment, share, and care. Together, we will get through the impossible, laugh at the rest and know that we are not only are loved by others, but more importantly, that we can and DO love ourselves too. You hold my hand, and I’ll hold yours. Together, we will bring a little more light to this world. Are you with me?