I grew up during the '50's in Manhattan Beach, California, in a family with many unusual strengths but also many heartbreaking ruptures, including bitter divorces and several suicides. I left home when I was 15 years old, lived in several foster homes, travelled on the East Coast and in Europe on my own, and ultimately put myself through college and through graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
School was always an anchor for me, a place where it was easy to excel and to feel valued. I was intensely interested in understanding the ways in which we human beings experience our lives, what makes us truly happy, what makes it difficult for us to be happy, and what we can do to create the lives we want.
But although I was outwardly successful during those years, I struggled with inner anguish, unable to sustain a sense of my own worth and longing for secure connection in a family of my own. I recognized myself in Thoreau's statement that "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation", and I was determined to find a way out of this forest.
So at the same time that I was learning to heal others, I reached for opportunities to heal myself, gradually learning to become more authentic, stable and alive inside. It is deeply gratifying to me when I can use the challenges I've faced and overcome in my own life to forge a light of clarity and compassion that helps others find their way out of the secret darkness in their own lives.
I married late, but only once, and I have two grown sons, a photographer and a musician, who know their worth and are busy creating the lives they genuinely want for themselves in both work and love. I am proudest of this in my life – that my children stand on my shoulders, and do not carry the weight of my history on their backs.
My husband and I have worked through many difficulties in our relationship, and now find ourselves closer with each passing year. From the beginning, we felt a deep spiritual resonance between us, but becoming happy together has required steadfast commitment, persistence and sometimes the courage to reach for outside guidance. We’re now so glad for having done this work.
From 1994 through 2001, we co-founded and ran an Internet services company together. My focus in running this company was to create a workplace shaped to the human form, rather than trying to stuff human beings into unnaturally square, prefab roles. I was especially interested in fostering a sense of community and minimizing workplace politics. Our company received the first ever Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award from the California State Psychological Association in 2001.
When I was young, I was drawn to the faces of older people who seemed wise to me. I wanted to have a face like that. I didn't realize then that in order to get a face like that, you have to live a life of slaying dragons, facing demons, going through fire and learning to do more than survive; learning how to thrive, in spite of it all. If I had known, I might have placed a different order!
But this has been my path, and all of these experiences (plus many more too numerous and complex to mention here) inform my understanding in my work.
© Copyright 2017 Sandy Lillie PHD