Hannah recently sent me her story, but noted that in her TM days, she went by “Hosanna.”
The thing about TM is that you have this weird “connection” with people. That “you understand the 1-2 years of the craziest, best, worst, emotional, incredible, unforgettable, hardest time of my life” type of feeling. And yet, everyone has their own very different experience. Here’s mine.
Before I even went to the internship I knew I was supposed to be there for 2 years. I didn’t even know there was a GI (or whatever it’s called now) program. I just knew. My first year I was an AA to a manager who was completely new to TM and his position was created for the first time. He was also only in the office 2 days a week as he was on the road with the ATF’s the rest of the time. A perfect fit for me. I’m a true entrepreneur at heart and I loved being able to work on my own and “create” and grow my area. But with all of that creating came hard work. Spreadsheets, databases, training material, mail merges, etc. I didn’t mind the work. I had spent a year in college and was used to early morning classes, late nights studying. I was hungry for God, so I loved the classes. The physical aspect was a breeze. I spent 8 years training as a martial artist so I was actually doing LESS exercise. But by the end of that first year, the 12-16hr days in the office, exercise, retreats, classes, required studies, started to take their toll. But I was one tough cookie.
My second year my work load in the office tripled. I was working directly on Day One along with all of the ATF’s. I had two AA’s myself to help out. Day One had to be perfect. Bigger databases, more phone calls, More positions to train volunteers in which meant more training material to write. Getting everyone correct information. And over-seeing 27 more events. I was also a CA and was in charge of the spirituality, mentality and the growing of 17 girls. I had all the regular classes to attend, plus extra for a second year intern. Oh! Not to mention the exercise to train for mountain climbing, running a 10K, and all the other things most people don’t do. Did I mention the pressure to be actively involved in church?
I started to feel sick more than I felt well. I was 12-18hrs in the office. I skipped meals. I spent a day in the office with a 104 degree fever (only a regular 8hr day though). This did get back to “the powers that be” and the rule was set in place about getting your manager’s permission to work overtime. Good thing for me my manager was out of town! All the balls were in the air. I had to catch them. I couldn’t fail. I was a second year intern. I was an example. April 23-24, 1999. Day One. A date I will never forget. Just waiting for it to be over and not give out prematurely. That’s all I could focus on. Making it.
No one had any idea what I was going through. I had who was considered the BEST female advisor TM had. But she didn’t know. Not really her fault? I grew up in a family where there was abuse: physical, emotional & mental. I was used to keeping silent about things and pretending everything was fine. This was “normal.” Everyone was in the same boat, so why should I complain? Besides, it would show that I was weak, incapable, and not “pressing in” enough.
It’s now 10yrs later. Since that time I spent 2 years living in Australia. I got married. Had 4 children (one died at birth). Got divorced. The entire time my life has been affected from the time I spent in Garden Valley, TX.
In Australia, I attended Hillsong Bible College. We studied hard and were also VERY involved with the church. Like TM, we were the ones who “ran” the conferences. Mandatory volunteers. Every time a conference came up (and there was one at least every other month) I’d get through one day, have a panic attack, and spend the rest of the time sick in bed. Without fail. Until after going through counseling I realized what was happening and was able to work the last conference all the way through after determining it was not going to beat me.
I met my husband in an online chat room. We were both witnessing to people and met. I was going to college and working in Tyler, he was living in Tennessee. After 3 months of long-distance I wanted to move closer to him. He didn’t have a job and was living with his parents (another story entirely!). I was quitting school and work and didn’t have anywhere to go but to live with him. I was so scared of what my TM friends would think of me moving in with a man, that I made a decision that was the lesser of the two evils: I married him. After a month I wanted out, but you stay married, right? I spent 7 years and 4 kids trying to make the marriage work, but finally decided it was more detrimental then positive and moved on.
But I think the biggest thing that I’ve struggled with the past 10 years is dealing with Chronic Fatigue. I’m always tired. It’s hard to focus. My brain doesn’t work the same. It’s like something broke. I get overwhelmed easily and want to panic. I’ve spent thousands on doctors and they all tell me one thing: you’re just tired.
So with the divorce behind me, I am focusing on my life and my kids. I have a half-marathon I’m running in October. I’m going to get my photography business off the ground and be the entrepreneur I’ve always wanted to be. I’m focusing. Taking little steps forward at a time. I’ll get well again. My mind will be clear again. My kids will have the life I want to give them. But I’ll never be the same after my 2 years with TM.