The Catalyst Intensive: Coming Home
As an only child, I’ve longed for brothers and sisters my entire life, I’ve pined for a huge family because I’ve always been acutely aware that it’s just lonely-only me. Growing up in Hawaii, I didn’t even have cousins to hang out with. Being Filipino you learn to turn every other Filipino into chosen family because they’re brown like me. I got lucky when we moved from Hawaii to the Mainland because in California I had cousins and a chosen family made of my mom’s college classmates and their kids, all of us about the same age.
Finally, I had it, the big sprawling family I always hoped and dreamed for. I didn’t have to be alone, I belonged to something bigger than my nuclear family. It was awesome. We spent summer vacations together, had family parties together, played in softball leagues together, went to middle school and high school and college together – these were the things my lonely-only child dreams were made of.
As a teenager, however, I rebelled against my family and extended family. I was tired of the rules, I was tired of having to fit into a box defined by how well I performed in school (of course, always at the top of the class) or how well I performed in my extracurricular activities (also stellar, being both competitive and a natural-born leader) or how much of a good, obedient girl I was.
I wanted to be loved for me; loud, brash, potty-mouthed, fun-loving me and in the iterations of my family I was a bit of a black sheep, a wild child who still performed at a high level because I had to perform at that level to survive. Anything other than exemplary performance meant the withdrawal of love and affection, earning punishments and isolation instead. I was living this life that looked good on paper but inside I was dying because I was living a life of quiet desperation.
Fast forward 15 years and there I was, still living a life that looked good on paper but dying inside of quiet desperation - except this time I was dying from a life of quiet desperation because I had gotten out of a severely abusive relationship and two years after that relationship I was still trying to find a way to hold the tattered pieces of this life that I didn’t even fucking want together because it was all the life I had.
I had a soulless job, I had friends, I had both my family and extended family although with terribly dysfunctional relationships in both. I had entertainment, I kept up with pop culture, I had hobbies and vacations and good hair; I was good on paper. Especially for what I had been through, but I felt so fake because I was faking it until I made it and dammit I really wasn’t making it. I couldn’t even separate out what I truly wanted for myself because I didn’t know myself outside of my life that was only good on paper.
One day I stumbled upon the Angry Therapist, John Kim. I hadn’t ever heard of life-coaching and I didn’t like the therapist I had, but I read John’s writing and it resonated with me. I immediately booked a session with him and the first time I talked with him it felt like I had known him all my life. It was like he was my kinda cool, but kinda dorky older brother. Also, being Asian-American, he totally understood my life space and my family dynamics down to my folks always giving me packages of paper towels, toilet paper, and laundry detergent whenever they saw me because that’s just what Asian parents do no matter how old their children are. They want to take care of you in some way. Two months of working with him turned my life around, and inside out.
I was a completely different person, I was the person I didn’t know I always wanted to be. I had a stance, I could be transparent, and I could maintain a healthy container. I stopped having sessions with John and off I went, free to go out into the big wide world, spread my wings and live my life as this new person, confident that I could handle whatever came up.
It’s been a fantastic ride, a ride full of ups and downs. Ever the prodigal child, I came back to my family and repaired the dysfunctional relationships I had with them and my extended family. I stumbled through situationships, I lost friends and made friends. I’ve learned so much about myself, other people and the world.
Earlier this year, I felt a calling to come back to This Is Your Tribe, the Facebook Group that evolved from the group on the website John had had back in the day. I loosely followed its evolution over the years as I sowed my oats, but was a passive bystander. I started to connect with people in the Tribe and it was awesome to have another space to be wholly myself, outside of my family and friends. I discovered that people resonated with my life lessons and I had the ability to help others heal, to give them a flashlight and a hand to hold in the dark until they could make their way to the other side, out into the light.
I took it one step further and joined the Catalyst Coaching Intensive. It’s been a natural fit, as a lot of the material covered in the Intensive are tools I’ve had in my toolkit for years after working with John. However, what I did not expect was this beautiful family of people that, although our primary interaction has been online, when we meet in person they feel like people I’ve known for all my life. Being with fellow Catalysts is so comfortable and easy, I’ve called it “joining the family” when I describe it to other people.
This has been the best part of the Intensive - for me, ever the prodigal child - to find a place in the family. Imagine having a family where everyone has tools, everyone knows how to hold space and give you the freedom to be yourself and express yourself without needing to fix you, because you’ve always had the power within to fix yourself, given the support and space to do so.
On top of my kinda cool and kinda dorky older brother John, I’ve found my twin flame and I’ve found my soul sisters and soul brothers, all of us holding hands and shining our lights in the darkness to help light the way for others. Here, in the Catalyst Intensive, we are human and flawed and the functional family that we’ve always hoped for. Here, in the Catalyst Intensive, we’ve found another home.
If you'd like to find your home, schedule a session with Catalyst Charlene.