An Ex-member’s Story

By Laura Shopen

I forgave Faye the moment I realized that the only power she ever had over me was the power I gave her over me.  In that moment of epiphany, I laughed.  I was only in Power Training for 3 years, but I’d had a crash-course in its ways.

I met my husband, got married and had a baby (Ray) in those same 36 months.  Three months after our son’s birth, signs of abnormality –flu that turns into pneumonia and does not respond to drugs, rampant thrush, and skin that completely peeled away from his scalp — began to appear. At first the doctors suspected AIDS.  Finally, though, they had a more unusual diagnosis.  My beautiful, red-haired baby Ray had been born with a rare genetic immune disorder — Severe Combined Immune Deficiency — which manifests in boys as a near total absence of T cells and B cells, the body’s defense system.

As the reality began to sink in for me of all that Ray and I were to face, I was so thankful for Power Training as I needed those skills, the energy vibration, and my new, supportive spiritual family now more than ever.  This was real.

I had no idea how things would unfold so differently than Iexpected.

It was a two or three months before Ray was admitted to Fred Hutch for a bone marrow transplant that my teacher/mentor/spiritual guru Faye did me a huge favor, although it took me many months, and even years, to see the Gift fully.

Ostensibly, Ray only 4 or 5 months old — and I had been invited to receive what I assumed would be a powerful healing session with the ‘upper levels’.   In reality, it was to be my intervention.  I sat in a circle with my sick, under-weight baby, and instead of receiving healing, I was given some TIP ‘tough love.’

I was surprised and happy at first to see Faye, herself, was there.  And then the nightmare began. Faye told me I was in denial, and that there was evil occurring right under my nose to my poor, sick little guy.  Even though the best high-tech immunologists in the world were telling me that I was a carrier of a known but rare X-linked genetic mutation that they’d actually identified in my DNA, that day Faye insisted that the true reason Ray was sick was that my husband was sexually abusing him and had been for weeks since he was born.

Science be damned was the attitude. She could ‘see’ it in their energy fields, she claimed.   She added that Ray was born too soon and wasn’t ready for this.

It was like a surprise dunking in ice water to my whole nervous system.  That afternoon, in my shock and horror, I broke down. I dissolved.  Through my tears, I cried — how could this be?  She suggested he/my husband was doing it while I was gone, and the upper levels all nodded their heads in silent agreement.  But I almost never leave the baby! I cried.  Next, she told me he was doing it at night while I was asleep.  But we all sleep in the same room usually in the same bed!  — since I’m nursing.

Finally, she told me something that even then in my shattered state sounded totally crazy, but she said it without flinching: He was probably drugging Ray and me.

My world collapsed and it felt like an inner schism was created.  My beloved teacher who I felt had become a second mother, along with her community of teachers who I had regarded as true family, had violated me.  They betrayed my trust, and they had turned against me, my husband and my baby!

But wait — had they?  What was true?

Was it really that my own insanity and denial was betraying me and also my poor baby? Was my husband really a child molester?  After all, what would a real child molester act like?  Was I guilty, because I would not face the “truth”, as Faye called it? What’s more, was the source of this supposed denial rooted in my own repressed childhood abuse, as she also insisted?  Was a subconscious part of me actively refusing to remember and admit being violated as a child?

The cascading implications were sickening to consider. My father, grandfathers, uncles, family friends were their evil ghosts in my past, too?

I was lost.  I’d embraced Power Training with my heart and soul for 3 years.  I felt the truth of many of its teachings, and I saw its positive effects in my life.  I heard the words said so often in class to “be in Knowing” and I felt them fill me at my core.  And now hereI was facing life and death with my baby.  It felt like a test, anInitiation.  I was facing the Great Bar Exam of Life!  Only the teacher … was she giving me a trick question?  Suddenly, whereas before she taught me to Know my truth, now she appeared to be teaching me NOT know my own truth, but to know hers.

Or was that true?

My sanity was at stake.  For months, I had to question everything I thought I ever knew.  I did my own version of Carlos Castenada’s “recapitulation”  as I stalked every memory, every feeling, every belief. If level 3 was really about Death energy, I was certainly living it.  As bewildered, fractured, and hurting as I was, life andRay’s medical problems went on.  I wanted to retreat to a cave, lick my wounds, and figure things out, but that was not to be.  I had a baby, a dying one that needed every ounce of my energy and resources —  to care for.

I left to stay with friends (other TIP students naturally ,and I am grateful for their friendship and generosity to this day) and put my marital status on hold. I do not know what is the truth, but I have to find out, I told my husband.  To his credit – I do not know where he found the wisdom and the strength in those days and weeks and months he stood solid.  Somehow, miraculously, he stepped beyond his own fear and rage.

Ironically and beautifully, I look back and see that he exhibited the type of behavior I would expect from a true Spiritual Warrior, asTIP claimed to be teaching us to be.

I didn’t do it, that’s the truth, he said calmly when I confronted him.  I will be here for you, waiting.  I want to be a family with you and Ray, and I will do whatever you need and I will wait for however long it takes.  My hope is you will see and come back, and I will be waiting.

The weeks wore on.  It may seem surprising, but I continued to go to the monthly Power Training meetings.  In my overwhelm and confusion, I did know one thing: I knew I could not afford to make a mistake.  If Faye and her conclusions and belief system were wrong, I could make a serious mistake that would cause a great deal of suffering in my life and in the lives of others.  However, if Faye was correct, there were hardly words for suffering that would continue and for the irresponsible negligence and cowardice of which I would be to blame.

I only remember one more personal interaction with Faye.  After a women’s group, she came up to me and said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”  A part of me winced, and a part of me resonated. I did feel her hurt. That felt sincere.

For weeks, I felt like I was driving through a downpour without windshield wipers, like I was running in mud, like I had woken up in a nightmare, but couldn’t snap out of it back to my warm bed.  I tried to see, but it was like I was staring through a crazy kaleidoscope:  Every reflection on every mirrored facet was telling me a completely different story, all of them horrific.  There seemed to be nowhere to turn for safety and no one I could trust. The doctors clearly had their personal, professional, and monetary agendas and biases. My own family could hardly bear the news about Ray’s medical diagnosis, let alone the rest of the painful melodrama that was interwoven.  My closest friends, even my sister, were in TIP and while they offered support, I could see the questioning in their own eyes about me and what I might be denying.  My husband, well, I had to be extremely careful there.

The thought came to me when you are stuck in the kaleidoscope, stop!

Turn your eyes away from the crazy reflections.

Center.  Just for this moment, you are safe.

Look down at your feet.

There now, just take one small step.

And now one more.

Rest.

Inch your way along.

You will find your Way out.

I needed to watch, to witness, to stalk the situation. Many of the skills I learned in TIP were the very disciplines that helped me to piece the puzzle back together and to extricate myself.  I needed to observe myself and others in that environment, and I needed to hear with new ears and see with new eyes.  I also knew intuitively that if I left out of fear, she would own a piece of me, because I would forever be on the run, in reaction.  It would be giving power to fear, and she would be my god.

So I went to meetings, I did my meditations, and I waited.  A line from the Course in Miracles, a spiritual work that I’d practiced previously and which I practice today stuck in my mind.  I need do nothing.  I practiced patience.  I realized the Truth just is. My life was in limbo, but in that there was some luxury of time.

I could wait quietly and let the truth be revealed to me.

Meanwhile, we were in and out of the hospital as the time drew nearer for Ray’s bone marrow transplant treatment, tacking back and forth between one emergency and another.  My husband remained faithfully supportive, and I remained…undecided and alternating between cautious and suspicious.

Ray took me through several life-and-death moments, but there was one that changed me forever.

Ray had first become sick in March of 1997, and now it was August.  At around ten days after the new bone marrow cells had been infused, which came on the heels of chemo to kill any traces of T/B cells just in case, Ray’s little body went into crisis. The weeks of sickness, the disorder itself, the cocktail of poison agents that had been administered, and the foreign cells that were trying to take over his marrow and build a new home in his bones – it all became too much.  All of his systems were struggling to perform their functions, his kidneys especially.

There were many little steps, missteps, and other developments that led up to the ultimate crisis — a ‘Code Red’ situation during which he almost asphyxiated and received an emergency intubation.  His time sedated on a breathing machine in Intensive Care was like an hour glass with too little sand.  We moved from one touch-and-go moment to the next, as the doctors, nurses, and pain experts danced the delicate dance of keeping this little 8-month-old sedated, oxygenated, pain free all without killing him or his brain function.

Finally, it seemed like the experts had run out of tricks in their black bags – he was losing oxygen and time was short.  I felt every fiber of my being recoil at the idea of what was happening.  A queasy feeling came up, and I excused myself âs I had to leave the room to pull myself together.

Alone, in our first room (which they thankfully had not given to a new patient yet), I did the only thing I could think to do – I said goodbye to Ray.  I could feel him leaving,  I could feel he was making a choice.  As I stood there, I could also feel my mom who had died in a tragic car accident when I was only 5 in the room.  I felt peace to sense her with us.  I knew she was there on her side to help him if he went that way; I was here on my side if he stayed.

Miraculously, the scene reformatted somehow in my mind, and as I opened myself to allow Ray to make his choice, I felt the antiquity of what was happening.  I saw the scenes of abandonment and loss that had been played out so many times for the three of us over the eons.  I also felt a personal choice very clear:  If Ray leaves, the world, which doesn’t even know the half of what I’ve been through, will condone my choice — as a new, loving mother of an innocent baby — to feel sad, to feel loss, to feel victimized, to feel abandoned and betrayed by everyone – Faye and God both.  My chance at motherhood, my new family, my first baby’s  gone, the next on a long chain made of tragedy, abandonment and death in my life.

All of these pain thoughts flitted through my mind like a deck of cards.  What struck me was how nicely this loss would fit with the rest of the story of my life and even my extended family’s life.  Ours was a long tale of betrayal and loss.

But somehow I was suspended at a different level of mind. And while the old feelings/belief system/identity felt familiar and justifiable by the world’s standards, I somehow could see it all anew.

I could see a pattern form, and with that, an aha occurred.  For a moment, I could see my past, this life and eons before like an old, weathered and worn tape.  The same story was playing over and over.  But from this view, it seemed like a bunch of meaningless noise, droning on and on ,the ego’s sordid tale that I continually fall for and that keeps me stuck asleep in a dream world.  A movie nightmare.

Somehow though, in that moment, I was between choices and I could see it for what it was.

No matter how righteous and proper the world and I might agree feeling abandonment and loss was, it was just more noise and drama and emptiness. It was another house of cards, an illusion, a set up.

I thought I was loving, yet this clinging, selfish ,identity-entangled attachment definitely wasn’t Love.

Words can’t really adequately describe what happened next.  I can only say that something shifted then –  like a huge, visceral CLICK that reverberated through me and the infinite space around me, and in that split moment, with the contrast so clearly highlighted for me, I made a different choice. I chose against the old way of fear, and by doing so, I naturally defaulted to the choice of Love.

I just knew I am Love and Ray is Love and that we re joined. He could never truly leave me, ever.  I would be here in my form, here on this earth, for him, if he chose to stay.  And my mother, his grandma, would be there for him in her spiritual form he decided to transition.  And either way we’d be together, the three of us.  At the level of Love, we are truly joined.

I knew if Ray died I would have sadness, but I knew it wouldn’t devastate me and I knew his death wasn’t ultimately real.

The entire epiphany took only a few minutes, although the truth of it continues to unfold for me 12 years later.  About 15 minutes after I’d left the room and had my shift, my husband knocked on the door and came in.  “You can come back now; he said. Ray’s fine.

He really was fine, too.  His oxygen levels had been stabilized and all his stats were good.  The graft was going well. Within a few days, he was off the breathing machine. The young, midnight respiratory therapist confessed he had never seen a case like Ray’s recover before and was surprised to find him back on his patient list.  The euphemism wasn’ t lost on me. And to make matters better, within just a few short more days we were back home.   All of us, home.

Ray never had another crisis.  He never had any serious graft-vs-host issues, any infections, growth problems, or blood issues. At 12, he’s never been seriously sick since.

My marriage, over time, healed.  I could never have believed then that I could be so happy and so grateful to have him in my life, but thirteen years later I am.

Perhaps what happened that day is that I altered time. Perhaps that CLICK was my shift to a new ‘alternate ending’ in this made up movie.  I chose a new tape, one that contains The Answers.  It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually, day by day, month by month, I have put the pieces together again, yet somehow they are shiny new this time.  I have peace I never had before. It’s easier to forgive.  It’s easier to feel the Light guiding me and see it guiding others even when they can’t.

It’s been a gradual process.  It took about two years or so to fully process my anguish and fear and mixed feelings of betrayal / loss about Faye and Power Training before I had that belly-laugh epiphany. Faye is like the Wizard of Oz.  She had only the power that I gave her – all because I thought she had something I wanted and needed.  Silly girl am I!  In that moment, I felt ancient handcuffs come off my wrists and knew I was released forever.  And as it dawned on me what we had been playing out, I just sat and laughed a long, hard belly laugh.

Faye was a tremendous teacher to me, indeed. Thankfully, I took Faye at face value when she taught me to be in Knowing.  And I think back to all the red flags early on that tweaked that inner Light in me, the same that is in all of us.  “Forgiveness is over-rated” she said.  I startled at the comment, and put the statement on a mental shelf during that class to continue to evaluate. Men could never be as spiritually advanced as women, she said, because they carry a tragic flaw.  Again, a discordant note was struck within me, but a part of me put this on a shelf, too.

I allowed a lot of leeway, looked away when certain stories would surface, etc.  Ultimately I wanted something from her- I wanted what I saw: her confidence, her charisma, her psychic gifts, her importance, her courage, her strength, and her abundance.

Something within me felt unequal and unworthy and guilty.  I thought I needed the Wizard and her bag of tricks to take me home.

Faye was using hypnosis in classes and in person all the time, her meditation techniques would help people enter into a slightly altered state of mind in which we naturally became more suggestible, more easily programmed, and in an emotionalized state that intensifies our desire to achieve a goal, especially when delivered by an authority figure.

And yet I also know that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis.  Many people have tried the group and left right away. Many people, like my husband, distrusted Faye and her manner instantly. It’s helpful, albeit difficult, to see how those of us who stayed acquiesced.

Today, I am who I am partly because of the invaluable lessons I learned from being with Faye. As a hypnotherapist, I, too, use hypnosis, although I’m transparent about it.  People trust me to help them find their own inner truth and answers, and I trust myself to be present with them when they are open and more vulnerable.  I’m grateful for my experiences, because I truly trust myself working with others.  I understand the difference between exploiting someone for my own needs and allowing the Light within us both to lead the way and use my therapeutic skills for Its purpose.  I know this is the true meaning of spiritual service just as I know that their healing is really none of my business.

Ultimately the healing is always for me.  It’s contingent on my total forgiveness of whatever flaw I see in the person or situation in front of me.   Choose again, the Light says every time I’m confronted with anger, abuse, irritation, fear, or sickness.  I know something Greater than me is in charge, gently guiding both of us to choose to heal.

I am really forgiving me for mistakenly believing in an illusion that was never really real.

Many may relate to the feeling that we’ve been here before.  We’ve played these parts before, crossing paths, switching roles and genders, feeding fear and pain in each other for eons.   I definitely feel Faye and I have been here before; perhaps last time, I was the delusional, fear-obsessed, power hungry charismatic leader, and she was the student that I mistakenly ‘abused’.

For all those selves tied up in all those past stories, the Light quietly waits.  It waits for us to turn to It so it can gently show us the way out of our madness, beyond the lying facets of the crazy kaleidoscope.

It will never yell to capture our attention, threaten, or cajole; It merely waits with patience.   It will not take away what we think we still want and need.  It will just wait for us to finally say, like a kid who has sickened himself from eating junk food that seemed so tempting, there must be a better way.

And with that question, the horror of the past becomes a classroom.  We, my friends, have had an amazing Classroom.  We thought we were getting something valuable from the group and from Faye and from being part of The Story, and it turns out we were. Faye, as our teacher, mirrors something profound for us that ultimately we have condemned ourselves for at a deep level.

And as we let her off the hook, we free ourselves.

The Light in each of us waits for us to make a new choice – to choose Love over Fear, Forgiveness over Judgment, Content over Form.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Faye.  I love you, I forgive you, and I hope you forgive me. And as my dear sister, I wish you well.