Four years of attending the School of Metaphysics (SOM) has changed me. I'm starting this post with no clear direction, and have deleted the first sentence more than I care to admit. This post is important though, I just feel it. SOM has provided me with the stimulus for my personal journey and helped equip me with tools to access continuous growth.

The School of Metaphysics is a non profit organization based around Self awareness and personal growth. Learning is supported through teaching four disciplines for the purpose of ushering in intuitive, spiritual man. Those disciplines are concentration, visualization, meditation, and dream interpretation. The lessons that are given hold perspectives on Holy works, Universal Laws and Truths, the 10 essential life skills, and how the mind works. The school only has two rules, come to class and do your exercises. Being in class is where you are able to discuss the lesson's perspectives and what you are experiencing in your life as well as your exercises. The exercises compliment the lessons you are working on and allows for the application of metaphysical ideas and practices in your daily, waking life.

I am in the second cycle out of four that are offered, not including short courses. There is not a time limit on any of the applied metaphysics courses. The reason for that is, the lessons are meant to draw out and draw to you experiences and opportunities for self awareness and growth. It isn't always pretty or easy and SOM creates the space to experience those ugly things in a place of nonjudgement and honesty. For me, cycle one broke me down and exposed my festering wounds that needed to be healed. What I found in SOM and my class, was a community that loved me unconditionally, which in itself was hard for me to accept in the beginning.

There is no time limit on the classes because personal growth is all about the day to day experiences and what choices you make, not earning a certificate, which we do get at the completion of each cycle. At the beginning, I felt I finally found what I needed to prove my worth. That if I completed my work and gained a certificate, I would be worthy of something more. Now, I can say my ego has transformed and I can laugh at how I used to be. Hindsight is a hell of a drug.

For me to explain my journey, it is important to know where I started. My first class at SOM was the day before my 24th birthday. At that time, I was incredibly self centered, very cold and guarded within personal relationships, but mostly, I was angry. I was always so fucking angry. I was on top of the world in my own little universe.

As a child, I experienced sexual trauma that triggered the onset of dissociative disorders among other mental health challenges. I still don't remember anything between the ages of 8 and 11-ish. I will see pictures from those times or hear my mom tell a family story to just feel a deep ache in my heart that it wasn't me there. I was an adult before I understood what really happened to me. Since I had no memories of my trauma, it couldn't impact me anyway, right?!

I also moved around a lot after my parent's divorce. Attending 8 different schools provided a lot of opportunities to play with my own identity and labels while simultaneously experiencing isolation. I "learned" who I was early in my life and built high and heavily gaurded walls around myself to keep the world from ever telling me who or what I needed to be.

Most of my middle/high school relationships were extremely toxic to say the least without going into details. I knew I would be leaving an area within six months, so I walked around with a chip on my shoulder and "fuck you" attitude to anyone that tried to tell me I was wrong. I also got into a lot of physical fights because at the time it was a release of all the anger I felt. I was actually proud of the number of broken facial bones that occurred from the blows of my tiny and mighty fists.

I lived on my own senior year of high school and graduated early. I met my partner in April of 2011. For me to be able to say that he is still my biggest fan nearly a decade later says more about his kindness, compassion, ability to forgive and love unconditionally than my words ever could. Although at times I can say he was an absolute idiot for staying, I'll never stop being grateful that he has stuck a round.

The time between high school and SOM, I worked random jobs- I have been an applebuddy, an adult store clerk, manager of a coffee shop, to even selling kid shoes in the mall. I had zero interest in finding a career because I still have no clue what I want to be when I grow up. Thoughts of working a desk job or even working at a "career" job for years still drains my brain of all serotonin. All of the jobs I have worked provided me with an area of play and fun in my life. I love interacting with people and those jobs fulfilled me through small talk and a paycheck. Surface conversations kept me connected while never letting anyone really know me. When I started classes at SOM, I was the door girl of a strip club.

My SOM journey began because the small voice, the little girl dreamer in my head that would whisper to me, "there's gotta be something more," was no longer a whisper. I was broken and feeling trapped in my human experience hearing internal screams of "WHY ARE WE HERE?!" I remember the feeling and the darkness that accompanied it. I blamed other's for my unhappiness because through my trauma, I became a people pleaser and I was spending all my time being a supporting actor in some one else's story while I neglected my soul. I decided to turn to the stars. I attended the Iowa Metaphysical Fair, looking to get tarot readings, past life readings, healing, ANYTHING to give me some sort of insight to what purpose for existence might be. It was a Dreamer's Dictionary book raffle, and the sweetest soul of my future teacher, to place a pamphlet of upcoming classes in my hand, and in that moment I knew I had to at least check it out.

I took the class beginning the day before my birthday as a sign for me. I still remember the feeling in my guts as I pulled up to the SOM building (a gorgeous house on University in the Drake area of DSM). I was captivated from day one and have been going back every single week since.

After the first few weeks of classes, finding my routine in being a newly born metaphysician, I began to actually do the work. What I mean by that is, when I started, the purpose for doing my exercises was purely to be a good student. That's what I should be doing to get the most out of classes. Then we got the forgiveness lesson. There was an in class exercise where we wrote down what our most unforgivable action was. We were encouraged to truly go deep and be honest because we weren't going to share them. As I wrote mine down, seeing the words on paper, no longer a secret stuck inside my head, I had the realization that this was being honest.

Since no one had a lighter to burn the pages, we were asked to destroy the paper and throw it away while being asked to forgive ourselves. I knew I wasn't going to be the same if I actually forgave myself for what I have done in my past because what I learned from the lesson. In the forgiveness of the Self, you release blame, shame, and even guilt. Before I could forgive myself, I had to be truly be honest with myself about my perceived shortcomings.

When I got home from that class, I had the desire to write down all the things I thought I needed to apologize to others for. I got incredibly specific and by the end of my writing, I was crying deep sobs. It was the first time I cried in years. I saw how I hurt people and began to see me, for who I was, and I was ready to be different. It was the most painful experience I have put myself through because I knew what I was doing wasn't sustainable. My heart, my body, my mind, my Self, were all tired of exhausting my energy on defending my walls and who I was because I wasn't making choices out of love, I was making my choices out of fear of being hurt.

I spent the next two weeks crying and asking my partner to forgive me and to keep loving me even though I was the biggest pile of hot garbage shit to ever be a burden on the planet. After those two weeks of deep, deep, deep diving into my dark abyss, I had a meditation experience that created the space I needed to forgive my Self. I felt different.

Peaceful, hopeful, renewed, grateful.

As profound as that experience was for forgiveness, the main thing I took away was that I needed to do the work. I can say a thousand times over that I am this or I am that, it is with my actions that will solidify what I believe to be true into knowing it is true. When I understood the purpose of doing the work was for me, my whole perspective of why I was brought to SOM changed.

I changed.

Since beginning at the school, I have found a community of people that love hugs and love unconditionally. I have felt supported in all of my personal choices and held accountable to be a greater version of my Self. I am so filled with gratitude to continually be a part of this community in new ways. I am blessed to have taught the first cycle and short courses. I feel I am beginning to understand what it means to be a whole, functioning Self, not dependent on any person, place, or thing or peace, contentment, or security.

Be kind to each other and I love you, just because you are.

-Frannie