My first women’s circle was held in the 3rd grade. I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, the dominant culture/faith/religion was Mormonism and because this was not my religion, most of my friends followed stricter guidelines than I. So I decided to gather friends to provide a safe place to say swear words. Thinking it would be helpful I created a safe and fun place to swear, so I chose recess as our meeting place. We said all the bad swear words; I delighted in the circle and so did they. We loved having a safe and fun place to freely express ourselves. I was hooked….so were they. My path was established: creating a safe place for people to express themselves. When I was ten years old, I asked my parents if I could see a therapist to better understand their divorce; they agreed. I could swear. I could rage. I could hate, be angry and cry and I could feel afraid in a very safe place.
My therapist and I ate doughnuts while she smoked cigarettes. As if being a timer, her dog would stand up at ten minutes to the hour indicating my session was over. I knew my weekly haven was complete for that week. Years later I saw my therapist at a party. Although age had caught up with her, I immediately recognized her hands from having watched her smoke and eat doughnuts. I reintroduced myself and shared that I had just finished graduate school in Psychology. I invited her to my graduation celebration. Little did I know she had cataracts and could not see. I had the pleasure of feeding her so that her silk dress would not soil. My work as a therapist stems from the safety I felt from sitting with her as a young girl in therapy. And, in turn, I was able to return the love and safety she so willingly provided for me.