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Excerpted from Second Sight by Judith Orloff. Copyright 1996 by Judith Orloff, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Books and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"I'd programmed myself to be miserable, and nothing would change my stance."

Judith Orloff, Second Sight, Part 4

After the accident, my parents did their best to protect me. The next morning, they packed up my things from our Westwood home and sent me to stay with some of their close friends in Malibu Colony, a well-guarded and affluent section of Malibu Beach. While they were deciding how best to help me, they insisted I remain there, isolated from my own friends, and most importantly, away from drugs. I knew their motives were good, but still I went grudgingly.

Nonetheless, I'd reached a turning point. My close brush with death had shaken me, but more than that, I'd undergone a passage, had in some strange way come back to myself. I couldn't stop thinking about the tunnel, its utter tranquillity, and the miracle that somehow, in defiance of the laws of physics, it allowed me to survive a catastrophic wreck.

When my parents dropped me off at the Malibu beach house, a dense fog was beginning to burn off as the sun lit up the coast. Disgruntled and moody, I settled in as best I could. Refusing to talk to anyone, I installed myself on the living room sofa and turned on the TV. There I lay, in a pink tie-dyed tank top and bell-bottom jeans with flowers embroidered on the pockets, mindlessly watching a Star Trek episode. Soon, however, my parents' friends barged in and introduced me to a neighbor. Viewing any interruption as an intrusion, I was hostile when I looked up at him, but I quickly did a double-take.

Jim was a tall, lean man in his midforties, with full, curly white hair and a white beard. He also happened to be standing in front of a backdrop of golden rays being reflected off the ocean, creating a halo effect. He looked like a storybook version of God. I wanted to burst out laughing, but I stopped myself. On sheer principle, I refused to cooperate, and laughing might be misconstrued as my "coming around." But in the celestial light of Jim's' presence, this whole mess suddenly took on a comic twist. Here I was, exiled in Malibu, very much alive for no apparent reason, and now a man who looked like God was towering over me.

Almost before I knew it, Jim was sitting on the couch beside me and gently asking me questions about myself. Annoyed by how forward he was, I wondered, Who is this man anyway? I wanted to dislike him, but somehow I couldn't. His large brown eyes and kind, unassuming manner soothed me. His presence gave me a feeling of acceptance, something I seldom experienced around adults. The quality of his voice and the tender way he looked at me seemed familiar, as if we'd sat together a thousand times before, though in fact no one in my life remotely resembled him.

I instantly connected with Jim, felt some sort of magical alliance between us. But there was no way in the world I was going to admit that to anybody. I'd programmed myself to be miserable, and nothing would change my stance. Adamant about refusing to give in to my parents' demands, I hardly spoke to him that first day. Eventually he said good-bye, got up, and left. I made a point of not watching him, kept my gaze fixed on the television.

The next morning my parents issued me an ultimatum. As usual, my mother did most of the talking while my father quietly sat back, giving her his silent but strong support. Either I had to agree to go into psychotherapy now, or they'd send me to live with relatives on the East Coast. My only exposure to psychotherapy had been the few instances when my parents dragged me to family counseling sessions that always ended up in yelling matches, after which we all went home in frustration. As a result, I viewed therapy as a farce, punishment for the inept who couldn't work out their own problems. But since I wanted to stay in Los Angeles at any cost, I reluctantly consented.

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