You are worth it, and there is no better place for you to realize it!
I was told about the 11th Hour Retreat from a coworker who had just come back from an “intensive” with Rachael. I had already been seeing a therapist through my department EAP and had about a year under my belt of EMDR therapy dealing with the significant amount of death and loss in my life. On New Years of 2910 I responded to a double fatality of two young adults in a vehicle accident. One of the individuals had a shocking resemblance to my nephew and for several hours, I thought it might be him. That started for me a downward spiral of trouble sleeping, anxiety, nightmares, and self harm thoughts. My Therapist suggested I look into the “intensive” programs my department offered. I reached out to my peer support and asked for more information about this program. Within a few hours I was on the phone with Rachael. What drew me to this program over others was this was the only one-on-one therapy that was offered. I knew I needed to be able to concentrate on just my own healing and for me to go into a group program would allow me to fade into the background
I had about a month between when I agreed to attend the retreat and when I flew out. As exhausted and ready as I was to make a change in my life, I was never more nervous of the “unknown”. I was scared what might be brought up and that I would lose my career at the end of this. A career that I love. I had been told PTSD what treatable but I didn’t believe it, I didn’t think these struggles would ever go away.
From the moment I walked into the office with Rachael, I had never felt more at ease with a stranger. She was so open, honest, and real. There was freedom in the day and although she pushed me when I needed it, she also honored my boundaries for how far I was willing to go in sessions. I will say that the week was some of the toughest work I’ve ever done on myself but Rachael walked me through it every step of the way. She also took the time to explain why I had the thoughts and feelings I did and it began to unlock things in my brain I didn’t know I was carrying around for years. Being able to identify my “stuff” allowed me to let it go and begin to move forward without that burden. This experience allowed me to stop reliving the past and I have now been able to say “What now?” and look forward.
It’s now about 9 months post retreat and I can say attending the 11th Hour Retreat was the BEST thing I could have done for myself at the time. If I had continued down the path I was on, I don’t think I’d still be working the job I love. Now I am growing into an effective and respected leader in my department. As first responders we take care of everyone else and would move mountains for people we love. We have to do that for ourselves too. I’m not going to lie, the work you will do in this program is hard, and vulnerable, and gritty, but it is worth every second of it. You are worth it, and there is no better place for you to realize it!
This is an incredible opportunity for any individual.
I stood what felt like a thousand miles away from my husband terrified as I watched him go through loss of a comrade on top of work trauma that had already rocked him to the very center of his core. Our marriage was already being held together with scotch tape after years of being second to his employer. I was holding all the pieces and stretched so thin trying to take care of everything and everyone. He attended some brainspotting sessions locally, thanks to ESS and EAP. Those sessions saved his life, and got him to Colorado. He had been so shattered by all of the loss he had personally experienced and the traumas he had processed, he agreed to attend the 11th hour retreat. He had no idea what he was signing up for. The mindset for me as the spouse was ‘I just have to get him by, until I can get him there’. What he learned about his coping mechanisms and behavior was that it was all linked to a time long ago. A time where children are supposed to be loved and protected but aren’t. That many moments of childhood that he had feelings and memories around were not just a life he had lived, but his very own ‘childhood trauma board’. Learning that those coping mechanisms are no longer required for survival, identifying them and building new behaviors is a journey that started at this retreat. Those traumas were responsible for a lot of the behaviors he had developed as a requirement to survive. A significant coping mechanism for him and many in the fire service is the ability to shut down emotionally. To wall off those feelings so that no one and nothing can hurt you ever again. This skill while detrimental to any actual connection in a relationship with spouses, children and family members has proved to be almost a requirement to survive being helpless amidst the hard things he was living day after day, stacked on top of his childhood trauma shift after shift, loss after loss. Experiencing traumas in childhood have a direct impact with your ability to process trauma as an adult. My husband didn’t know he had childhood trauma. He thought it was just the life he lived. EMDR was a tool used to process those memories in a way that takes away the overwhelming feelings associated with them, and the bad things you think about yourself. He worked through so many different things from his childhood and from his career. There was a lot of learning about himself, healing, and growth. My husband returned from 11th hour with a journey of healing ahead of him. He now has a solid foundation she helped him build for himself, for me his wife, and for his children. Don’t wait until you are shattered to reach out. This is an incredible opportunity for any individual. Rachael is an authentic empathetic loving straight shooting lady, that has given this family the gift of hope. For that I am eternally thankful.