Finding Me: A Personal Journey

By: Linda Conyard, Australia's leading pioneer advocating for socio-political trauma-sensitive change and informed responsiveness to UNnecessary trauma in the Health, Education, Justice and Government sectors.

Linda Conyard Headshot

I absolutely love aging! I know that sounds quite the opposite to what you’d expect to hear from any other woman on the planet.

With age and the commitment I made to myself over 20 years ago to do my inner work, I am the most comfortable and compassionate with myself at this point in my life (turning 60 in a few months). It’s challenging for me now, even to imagine having the level of loathing and disgust I used to have for myself.

I have come to know that understanding, not judgement or criticism of how I’ve experienced myself in the past, was crucial in the reconnection to my true self. I love the deepening of the relationship I began with myself all those years ago.

It feels like all the hard work has paid off, and the reward is inner peace, acceptance, and authenticity. It also feels like there is now so much more potential and possibility and the next 20 years of my life are full of exciting opportunities just waiting to be explored and experienced.

My journey to this point has been fraught with addictions, subconscious repeating patterns, isolation, creative adaptations of myself, and disconnection in my family of origin. I lived my childhood in hidden domestic violence, with my refuge being animals and nature, and my grandmother was the only real human connection I trusted.

It all makes complete sense now. I can see how every life experience has prepared me for this next chapter of my life and the legacy I am working toward leaving for humanity. I’m going to share three major turning points that I recognise as instrumental in having me do the work I do today.

First major turning point.
I found myself disillusioned by the work I was doing and so exhausted by the long hours and the personal challenges I had around my children and the schooling system. One day, walking past my bookcase, a book fell off the shelf onto the floor in front of me for no apparent reason. I picked it up and saw it was a book on Ayurveda(Indian system of health and natural therapy). I had owned this book for about seven years and never read it until that day. This one incident changed the trajectory of my life as I knew it. It was the beginning of connecting to my true nature. I have been studying ever since that fortunate incident in 2004.

Second major turning point.
I had normalised the violence I grew up in. I knew it wasn’t ok, but it was my normal. When my second daughter was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer at the age of 6 months (she survived and was blind by the time she was three), I thought I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. The fact is, I had subconsciously been training my whole life to that point to deal with any significant trauma. There are a gazillion stories I can tell you about this part of my life. Briefly, my adaptations from childhood supported me through the many traumatic years that followed her diagnosis.

Fast forward 27 years, my husband was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in the lymph node on the right side of his neck. I had completed studying Ayurveda, and many other modalities, and experienced trauma in a very different way. Oh my gosh, the difference in my ability to be present to this trauma as opposed to my daughter’s was like chalk and cheese. The adaptations I had needed from childhood were no longer part of my way of being, and I could process the trauma in every moment it was occurring.

These years of traumatic experiences made me aware of what I now call UNnecessary trauma.

Third major turning point.
During a retreat where I was studying ‘Spiritual Care with the Dying,’ I witnessed a process, which I now know as “two chair work”, that took on a life of its own. Person after person wanted to jump into the chair and do this process work. At the time, I was working for Karuna Hospice, a home-based palliative care service, providing support to those who choose to die at home. I have also been a volunteer for Karuna since 2007. Studying death and dying could also be considered another turning point where I had no intention of heading down this path – that’s another story.

When back at work after the retreat, I told my co-worker about the experience I witnessed and how amazed I was by it. She said that sounds like Gestalt. So, we searched for Gestalt, and it so happened that there was an open night that evening! Yes, I hear you; what are the odds of that? We attended that evening, and the minute I sat down in the space, I knew I would be there for four years doing the Masters. I had no idea how because I had never considered myself academic and never considered that level of study.

After four years of study and practice, and eighty hours of personal therapy, I received my academic achievement. Forty hours of personal therapy was the minimum required for the degree, and I chose to do the maximum hours. I became the therapist I was seeking for my trauma recovery. In the middle of my degree, I went to India and stayed in an Ashram for three months which was an incredible spiritual development that could be considered another major turning point in my life.

If I was to share the takeaways from my life so far succinctly, here’s what I would offer:

We all have some level of trauma, and I would encourage you to let trauma be your teacher.

My current work is based on the following insight I’m sharing, which I believe is significant for all of us. The way to inner peace is by resolving what I call the three great disconnects; the disconnect within the self, the disconnect with others, and the disconnect from nature. If you start the reconnection to self, the others are easier. By finding me, I am able to help others do the same. This work is the basis for living your life fully and enjoying success in any area of your life.

May you all be well and may you all be happy.

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