Wednesday, November 14, 2007
memories & milestones

On November 12th, 1970, I smoked my last cigarette....ever! Having smoked for 24 years, and very heavily, I might add---especially the last three or four years----this was a momentous occurrence. You can read in more detail about the 'smoking' experience in my post called "SMOKING" on my sidebar over there on the right....

On November 13th, 1970----the very next day----I began a journey that continues to this day....I started something called "Primal Therapy"....I was sitting on my bed, on the 12th of November, painting, when they called me from The Primal Institute right here in Los Angeles, (the original location founded by Arthur Janov and his then wife, Vivien), to tell me that there had been a cancellation and then to ask me could I start the next day? I was stunned but very very ready. So I said, yes, I can! The young woman on the phone said..."Now remember, you must go to the motel tonight, and remember no drinking, no gorging on food, no pills of any kind, no sex, no smoking, no anything that might take your pain away...". I had a cigarette in my hand at the time----(I had a cigarette in my hand or resting in the ashtray, almost all of the time while awake....four packs a day gets smoked somehow, you know?)....I said, "Yes, yes, I know"....She went on: "No radio, no tv, don't talk with anybody on the phone once you are in the motel...and be here at 8 am in the morning....

I hung up after a few more instructions and looked at the burning cigarette in my hand and thought, 'I'll just take one more puff'. I stared at it and paused, and said to myself, 'No....that's it. It's over, no last puff.' And I stubbed that last cigarette out in the very full ashtray on the night table right next to my bed. And then I put the Agua Filter that had held my cigarette, down on the table right next to the full ashtray, and I never picked up another cigarette or an Aqua Filter again.

I went into the motel that evening, very scared and anxious about what awaited me. I knew there was a mother lode of pain locked in me. I knew this, because when I read "The Primal Scream" by Arthur Janov, it unleashed something in just the reading of it. I had applied to The Institute, feeling lucky that it was right here in West Hollywood. I even went there so they could see that I was kind of falling apart already, despite the fact that I was still smoking....They told me there was a waiting list and it might take a month or more....I honestly did not know how I was going to go on for that length of time without the help I felt I needed.

So when the call came the very next day I knew this was my opportunity. And it was a kind of miracle that this was presented to me right after I had been over there....And I had gone because I had a friend who was in therapy and she worked in the office there part time and she said...."Come on over and let them see you....Maybe there will be a cancellation and if they see you and they know you are right here in Los Angeles (People came from all over this country and the world, like Lourdes....!) and could start right away if there is a cancellation....". And so that is why I went. And she was correct.

The whole idea of leaving your home and going into the motel was so that you could totally devote yourself to the task at hand. No distractions of any kind. You went to the Institute each day for a few hours or however long your session lasted---these were open ended sessions. No 45 minute hour here----and then you went back to the Motel....You did not do anything but stay with yourself. You could write if you needed to but no phone calls, no visiting with friends, no anything, but the therapy. It was an incredible luxury to be able to do this. Once you were "cracked open" so to speak, then you could go back home. But carrying on your usual daily life was on hold for quite a few months.

It is a very difficult and painful Therapy...or at least it was at the time I went all those years ago. (I don't think it is the same anymore, and that is a shame, so I am glad I went when I did...) So, as hard as it was, I am deeply grateful it was as it was, on November 13th, 1970. And I was very very lucky in the Therapist I was assigned....He was wonderful and gentle in a way that I needed. God or a Higher Power of some sort was looking out for me at that time, that is for sure. With the wrong person this could have been a disastrous experience, and it wasn't. It was and still is a very rewarding thing for me. It gave me myself, and one cannot ask for anything more important then that....flawed, yes; damaged, yes; but it gave me, me.

So, after two years at The Primal Institute, I continued on my own, with the help of other primal people....we helped each other. We did what they called, 'buddying'.....we were already doing that there at the Institute, which was great....and all that means is, there is another understanding person there with you as you go through reliving early early painful experiences, little tiny bits at a time, like peeling an onion....They don't say anything. They are just there, supporting you on this journey, ready to do something you might need, if need be. And you do the same thing for them, when it is their time to have their "feelings". This is the greatest gift that anyone can give another person. The freedom and support to have their feelings, whatever they might be.

Not everyone is able to do that. And I understood that. Some people's pain fits with yours better than other people's. Finding those people was not always easy, but when you did, it made all the difference. I've been very very lucky. Over the years I found a number of different people to buddy with....Our pain somehow fit with each other, so that it was a terrific experience....For these last thirty years I have had one steady Buddy. And, as is the way of this, I 'sit' for him too. It is a very intimate relationship, as one can imagine. Your buddy sees all of you, and I don't mean the naked body....I mean the naked raw feelings...This takes tremendous trust, and it is a trust that builds over time.

I also had a "room" built underneath my house, rather crude, but it serves the purpose. Sound proof, and padded walls. Talk about 'safety', such an important component of this experience. It is in fact the safest place I know. One can scream and wail as if being murdered---and believe me, I have, and no one calls the police because they cannot hear you. Another great gift. Nothing need be held back. Nothing.

So, on the 12th of this month, two days ago, I began my 38th year of being 'smoke free' and on the 13th I began my 38th year of the Primal experience. The thing about this therapy is: Because it gives you yourself, it enables you to 'go on'....to get on with life and all the things that go into you having a life. It is not a cure. You don't come out all perfect and a different person....you come out more of who you really are, with all your imperfection's; with all your damage; but now you have your real feelings. It ain't easy, believe me, but it is, for me, the only way. Without it, I would not have made it till today. I may not make it till tomorrow...and if that is the case, that is the way it is. But, for these 37+ years and hopefully more, God willing, I am still here.Who knew? I surely didn't. But, as I said, it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done for me, and I am the only one who can truly judge that.
I am the only one who lives inside me. And so it goes. We stumble on through the weeds and come to an opening filled with lovely flowers. We keep moving and there again are some more weeds and hopefully, if we don't fall while stumbling through those weeds, there will be more flowers beyond....

This is life.

So, I wish myself a Happy Anniversary for two reasons on this 14th day of November. 1) For not having smoked in 37 years plus two days, and
2) For having given myself the gift of myself for 37 years, plus one day. I applaud myself and feel much gratitude that I had the courage to tackle both these very important things so that I might continue on in this often very difficult thing we call living. Oh look....there are the flowers.....!

More To Come......







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41 Comments:
had this to say:

Congratulations on successfully discarding smoking from your life. I think entering into a 1:1 counseling relationship can be one of the most difficult decisions, but rewarding actions a person can take. Clearly you found the choice you made to be highly signifcant in your life and am glad for you it was so.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 2:58:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Congratulations on this milestone Naomi! You certainly deserve a big pat on the back!! The Primal Institute sounds like a great cause and I'm sure it's helped so many. I could use a few sessions in your sound proof room, especially during high levels of stress!! :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 3:57:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Happy Anniversary for both reasons Naomi. This was a very touching and readable story in all its detail and you have all the reason to be happy and proud - I'm so glad for you. As my wife always say: 'It works if you work it, so work it, your worth it'. Your the best proof of that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 6:16:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Like you, I was a very heavy smoker for 37 years. Quitting was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my whole life and one of the most life changing as well. I found a different person emerge from that smoke filled cocoon. I found real confidence instead of an induced one and I found peace:)
When I was quitting I used a support group on line and it was such a help. Just knowing you weren't alone in this horrible struggle. Congratulations on your success! The sky is the limit and up and away we go.............

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 7:08:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Naomi, thank you for sharing your story with the rest of us. Have personally been fighting the war of the mind and the need of smoke. is not something that am winning. Oh and let me not forget food. Can not imagine the experience,where one can think of one's self and the repair that needs to been done, and have the help and support for years from others who would truly understand. Am so glad that you were able to quit, and you are here to share your talents, and heart will the rest of us. Pat from NY.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 7:34:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Wonderful post Naomi and I applaud you and congratulate you for not smoking in all those years AND for giving yourself such a gift!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 8:32:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Congratualtions on two very fins acheivements. the smoking alone is a big deal, but finding a way to find yourself, live with yourself, those are bigger, to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 9:57:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Those are absolutely great milestones to celebrate. I applaud you Naomi. I have never smoked in my life nor did I ever even TRY a cigarette when growing up. I grew up in a house with heavy smokers. My mom is showing signs of emphysema nad my dad died from it. You did a great thing! And as for your 'primal' therapy, I'm coming to your house for some therapy! LOL.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 10:02:00 AM PST 

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

Congratulations to you on these milestones!
This was a beautiful post, my dear, thanks for sharing more of your memories and for the beautiful message of optimism and for making me stop to smell the flowers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 10:29:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Good for your for making the decision to do something very good for yourself!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 12:02:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What an interesting post to read! I'm old enough to remember a lot about the Primal Scream therapy. It was not anything I ever tried - but, always thought it was fascinating. Thank you for giving me the insight into it. And, I am so glad that it was something and is something that helps you be You!

Congrats on the not smoking too. I feel so much better - it will be 3 years in April for me...(after too damn many of smoking!!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:25:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Two amazing milestones indeed! Congratulations, these are great things worth celebrating!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I quit smoking in 1978, when I was 38, having started when I was 15. It was and remains now the best thing I have ever done for myself!
Too bad I didn't know much about Primal Scream therapy when I quit. I did scream a lot - but probably not the right way....LOL

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:57:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Whooo hooo!! what awesome things to be proud of...the gift of yourself and the gift of being able to be yourself alot longer by quitting smoking!! I can only empathize to what that therapy must be like...but as you said, it was difficult but the best thing u could have done for yourself, then BRAVO! I can however, totally sympathize and understand what it is to quite smoking. I certainly smoked very heavily for over 20 yrs and finally quit cold turkey 3.5 yrs ago..and don't go a day without being proud of that fact.
Thanks so much for sharing such a deep part of you in this post Naomi. I'm sure many of us are very touched as I am that u did.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 2:13:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Congratulations, Naomi! What a wonderful and miraculous experience! The timing was perfect. Although I am not a smoker and never have been, I know it's a hard habit to break. You've come a long way, baby! ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 2:31:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I am truly touched! I admire the courage you have been through just to achieve your goal.

HUG! HUG! HUG!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 3:21:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Oh wow. I have been taught a lot in this post Naomi. I never quite knew what Primal Scream was or Primal Therapy but I had heard of them (there is a 90's British band called Primal Scream!)

I have never smoked in my life but I live with a smoker (not a heavy one which is just as well), so I congratulate you on your 37 years of being smoke free.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 4:31:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Congrats, Naomi! I've never been a smoker but was around smokers all my life. Now I choose not to be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 5:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Big congrats, Naomi. :)
I think that's wonderful.
38 years!
And thank you for sharing this.
~S

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 5:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi! Oh goody, lots of things for me to read. I just popped in to let you know you've been tagged! Come over to see what it's all about!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 6:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

what a wonderful post! congratulations to you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 8:25:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Congratulations on this milestone and on your success, dear Naomi! I am so happy for you! I remember well when I read your post called "Smoking" and I also remember that I sent that post to my daughter!

I have never smoked in my life, but believe me, when I was a teenager I tryed to smoke, but fortunately I hated the taste and I choked with the smoke. Your story is a great example! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Many hugs my dear!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 9:52:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wonderful wonderful good stuff. Happy anniversary! You've been smoke free for as long as I've been alive! That's amazing and you are an inspiration. Once you decide to do something, you just do it! I didn't do this primal therapy of course, but having gone through as many depressions as I have and being mostly left to my own devices, I had to face me, as I was many many times. I had the I Ching and the Medicine Cards to guide me through it, but that's about it. And every time, I become closer to "just me" minus another mask. Minus another protective wall. Or sometimes PLUS another protective wall because I'm that much more vulnerable inside. I don't know. Something like that. I'm glad you posted this. Thanks Naomi.

xoxo i.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 11:52:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

4 packs a day! Your quitting like that must have really been a shock to your system. Congratulations on your milestone and your fortitude.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 1:33:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi,

... it was wonderful, reading this.
Happy anniversary!

Junie

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 5:38:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a wonderful story and very encouraging to read. The first time I ever went to a psychic, probably the best one I ever went to also, she said I had a lot of anger in me that I wasn't facing. I still have not accessed it but she suggested screaming and hitting a pillow as a way of getting it out. I have tried counseling twice but cannot say that either helped me, probably not intensive enough or perhaps not the right kind of approach. You can't ask for more from any program than to access yourself, to not fool yourself and to truly know who you are. Only then can anyone deal with the issues that we often do submerge, as I have my anger still. Guess I should go get a pillow and wait until the contractors leave from building the shop extension out by the barns today to let it all out :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 9:01:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Happy anniversary~ I'm glad you're here!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 9:34:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Instead of Happy Anniversary, I'll wish you Happy Birthday, because I think this was a time of rebirth for you!

Cheers to many more years of happiness and discovery!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 10:19:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi,
I've done a post about Betty and Larry and you on my blogs! :D

(Boy, I hope Betty doesn't hunt me down and kick my butt...!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 10:40:00 AM PST 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

What a very absorbing post Naomi. At first I thought it was a celebration of 37 years of non- smoking which is salutory in itself but the discovery of the you must have been a long difficult road but ultimately life enhancing and I salute you for following it through.
You have been smoke free longer than I have. I had a very expensive week at a health farm in 1977 and thought I mustn't waste the money by smoking and haven't since. But the Primal Scream programme sounds much more interesting and I hope you will tell us more eventually. And by the way very well done!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 11:22:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

How brave of you, not only to succeed, but to write about it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 11:27:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

My sweet darling Naomi - one of the most interesting and daring women I know - what a fabulous story - you are one of our enduring storytellers. We met here when I quit smoking and how wonderful to touch your journey to intimately. Heart to heart.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 1:21:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Huge kudos to you, Naomi, on both of your milestones.
I think you have proved the saying correct....When the student is ready, the teacher appears. And even more meaningful is that you listened.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 4:44:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I remember reading about that therapy, it's very interesting, it seems to go back to the very basics of what ails you instead of a little bit of talk therapy and a BUNCH of prescriptions, like they do now. And you put down the cigarette BEFORE the therapy. That is something.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 7:32:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Michele bade me come back, Naomi. We are both glad that you quit smoking (and glad that I did, too)!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 8:32:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Congratz for quiting smoking. It's one big milestone!

Michele sent me here. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 11:41:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Two phrases jumped out at me from this post:
1)To have the freedom and support to have your feelings. This is probably the greatest thing someone can do for someone else adn I am glad that you found a process and people where you had this. The last year or so I have become quite tired of people telling me how I should feel about something under the guise of listening to me. Imposing their view of how I should react or feel often made things worse and felt I wasn't be listened to or that I was wrong for feeling the way I did in some way. What a gift when someone does not impose on your pain.
2) I am the only one who lives inside me. How true! Just becasue something might be trivial for one person doesn't mean that it wouldn't be devastating for another . Pain is poersonal and yet in society we try to impose a standard of how much things should hurt adn how someone should react. I remember when Bob was very ill people brushed it aside and yet I was very upset adn couldn't show it becasue of the way those around me treated it and even said 'he is just a cat'. Their reaction invalidated my pain and yet I felt it. Even with my recent divorce, some people can not see why I am not dancing in the streets.

A wonderful post Naomi, and spot on. So many people I think, miss this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 2:38:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

You know how meaningful your stop-smoking anniversary is to me. Congratulations on staying strong for so many years!

And I think we've talked about primal therapy before...I wish I had done it at that time, too. A friend of mine lived downstairs from a PT studio, and you can imagine what THAT was like! LOL

Love your LA photos, Naomi...

Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 6:49:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Congratulations on the milestones both of them :) I for one am very glad you put that last cigerette down.

Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 6:49:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a wonderful post!
BIG congrats on both huge milestones/anniversaries!!
When you wrote about your buddy seeing all of you (not in the naked body sense), I thought that showing your inner self is so much BEYOND the naked body sense. I am glad you've been able to reveal yourself to your buddy, and also to heal yourself again and again through primal therapy.
Quitting smoking as you did is a HUMUNGOUS thing!
I wish more people could & would give up smoking.

Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 5:37:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Amongst this moving post on courage,personal strength, finding yourself, and trust, the following hit me square between my green eyes:

"This is the greatest gift that anyone can give another person. The freedom and support to have their feelings, whatever they might be." -----That is so true, rarer and more precious than any gem! To connect and trust someone implicity, open yourselves wide and feel safe and accepted doing so is an incredible bond like no other in this world.

Good for you to feel confident enough to congratulate yourself!
You've come a long way and I wish you the best in continuing your journey. Happy Anniversaries, Naomi!

Monday, December 3, 2007 at 7:12:00 PM PST 

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