roger halm




OCCUPATION: Counselor.

AGE: 50

Roger is an Addictions Counselor, Psychodrama therapist and Reiki Master. He has worked for the past twenty years dedicated to the healing of addiction, family dysfunction, and trauma.

"A human being is part of the whole called by us universe,
a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." ALBERT EINSTEIN




JH: At twenty in the Veteran’s Hospital you were aware of healing. It was rather vague but did you have some understanding about what healing was?
RH: I knew the intensity of my pain. Once again I found myself in a hospital setting, this time a Veteran’s Hospital. When I participated in a group therapy process I described my situation as a "soul sickness". That lit up the facilitators of the group. The Veterans Hospital that I was in at that time had an approach to healing through medications but that approach did not seem to help me. I also had some compliance around the issue of my own alcoholism/drug addiction and reached out to a twelve-step program again. This time it was for the alcohol and drug problem but it was probably another two years before I had any real success with the twelve-steps.
JH: You could name soul sickness. Were there specific issues within it that you thought you were faced with?
RH: There were all sorts of life issues: relationship issues, authority issues, job related issues. Identifying that there was some sort of "soul sickness" gave me a frame of reference that maybe something could be done about it. But I didn’t have any awareness of resources or skills that would specifically make that happen at that time.
JH: You knew there were problems but you had a sense they could be surmounted in some ways?
RH: Yes. Actually I had been watching my parents’ recovery process in a twelve-step program. I saw them change their life dramatically from totally non-functioning to more responsible citizens. The trouble that I was experiencing at that time was that I was constantly teaching my health care providers in the Veteran’s Administration about alcoholism. I did not have a clue that I also had Post Trauma Stress Disorder from the assault in the Army or from my childhood experiences with physical, emotional abuse, and incest. Most of my therapeutic time was spent in attempting to educate people about alcoholism and having grown up in an alcoholic family.
JH: So a big piece of the obstacles was that the resources were not conscious of what you really needed. They weren’t really available for you?
RH: Yes. In the mid seventies, I had not come across anyone who was treating adult children of alcoholics, trauma, incest, sexual abuse. At that point there was ignorance about these issues. I was involved in a twelve-step program for alcoholism and initially, but I was abstinent by association, rather than any significant recovery oriented efforts on my part. I did not have much in the way of financial resources to seek out too much help. After a number of relapses, I finally got sober in 1979.

RH: At that time I was not conscious that beliefs were being challenged. Looking back, I can see that some fundamental beliefs that I had developed in my childhood experiences were being questioned. Some of those beliefs were survival beliefs such as, "don’t talk, don’t feel, don’t acknowledge what is really going on." It was the greatest challenge for me because those rules/beliefs had helped me to survive the incest, the physical abuse, the rape at knifepoint. A lot of the challenge at first was unconscious until I got deeply into the12 steps and the ACOA work. I began to see that things had happened to me that were common to some other people and that we all had developed some strategies for survival. And once I had grasped that, it made a difference. When I look back now with the insight I have, I didn’t have a clue then, but I see now that I was having normal responses to abnormal situations. PTSD responses were normal for the traumas I had experienced. But in society I had been perceived as the abnormal one.
JH: Can you speak to how those beliefs were reconstructed, some of those that you mentioned: "don’t talk, don’t feel?"
RH: I started to pick things up around twelve steps meetings. I heard people talking about things that were unspeakable prior to that time for me. I realized through the mirroring that I received in those meetings that no matter what I had done, where I had been, that I was still a human being who was and is worthy of security, love, recognition, and worth. It was people showing up for me regardless, people offering genuinely from their heart with no strings attached. They cared.
JH: And what you started to know was?
RH: I started to know that I was a human being, not some crazy being. I had inherent worth, that I was capable of anything, that I could make a difference in this world.
JH: During those difficult times, you spoke about the external resources that were there for you. What inside of you kept you going?
RH: There was a basic instinct for survival and a desire for love. I also had a sort of knowing inside that said I had come into this life to make some kind of a difference. As I awoke more and more to myself, I was aware that my life path was about healing and supporting others to heal. That has been my drive for a long time. Soul level stuff kept me going.
JH: Looking back to that first phase of walking blindfolded with just little glimmers of light coming in to keep you going, can you see what metaphors would represent what came after that?
RH: The best kind of example that I could use would be the experience of "connect the dots". I began to connect the dot with the things that I was finding out in reading, in workshops and different modalities of healing. I was exposed to things like psychodrama, Reiki, movement therapies, Alexander Technique, guided imageries, the Therapeutic Spiral Model of Psychodrama. I connected dots and made overlays of ideas and principles that were common in a variety of spiritual traditions. It was putting the pieces together of what made my life different, sometimes one simple step at a time despite the desire to have it all change all at once.
JH: Did you feel the blindfolds were off then?
RH: After the experience in the hotel atrium at the conference in Princeton, yes, the blindfold was off. Yet there was frustration because I didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle yet. I wasn’t totally blind anymore-- I could see the puzzle, but couldn’t find all the pieces.
JH: You could connect the dots, but you couldn’t see the form that it was making? Even so, were there some points that were epiphanies for you?
RH: There have been a lot of epiphanies in my life. One was being in a body-centered workshop where I had trauma memories surface. At that point, I was being supported. I basically went into memories of sexual assault as a child, and ended up being able to sob, rather than contain it one more time. I was not crazy. The person that held me was able to let me know that they understood about this on a deep level. And it was not about being out of control. It was about regaining control through sharing and feeling that which had been unsafe to feel. Anytime I had gotten close to those feelings in the past, I had shut down. This time it was okay to open and release them. It made a profound difference in my life.
I had grown up learning to be tough and stoic. I attended a Men’s Retreat where I met a Lakota man who taught me that tears were really about strength and not something to hide. He taught me, "Tears contain salt. Salt heals the wounds of the warrior."
Another epiphany was watching and working with adolescents in a rehabilitation center. There we attempted to make a spiritual container that allowed them to discover themselves. Many of them did. I watched them heal when they were supposed to be the "bad ones". These are some of the epiphanies over the past twenty years. Helping to create a safe environment in which people can connect to their humanness and heal. To facilitate a little and hold a space for people to do this work has been incredible. And it is not just 1+1=2, it seems as though it’s 1+1=73. It would just keep expanding right before my eyes. The strength of spirit at work is amazing!





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