Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lifespring Memories (politics-free post)

This picture was taken outside a motel in Little Rock the summer after I’d turned 13. The look on my face tells me a lot about being 13 and hating my family and wishing I were alone all the time to read my magazines and listen to The Cure. My parents hauled us all to Little Rock for a Lifespring graduation and decided to turn it into a family vacation...if you can consider one extra night in a motel a vacation....and I totally did. Cable TV! Vending machines! Air conditioning! Flushable toilets! All luxuries for a family living in an 850 square foot farmhouse with no septic system on 120 acres in the middle of the Arkansas Ozarks.

What is a Lifespring graduation, you ask? Why, it’s a celebration of the culmination of four or five days of intense “vacuum therapy.” Those quotations are mine because I just made up that term. “Vacuum” therapy because the kinds of breakthroughs that occur in those hotel convention rooms are hard to translate to real life. It’s a purposely-controlled environment that is supposed to encourage emotional catharsis - a bunch of people thrown into a room with only scheduled bathroom breaks from the long sessions of therapeutic exercises. You comfort your inner child and work in dyads and cry a lot. My parents and their friends were really into it.

We drove to Dallas in a borrowed Taurus to do the Family Training. The next summer I helped facilitate another Family Training. Is this all sounding a little Scientology-esque? That’s not surprising. I figured out early on that there was a short honeymoon period after the trainings when my parents would want to be Fun! and Cool! and Motivated! It was unsettling and I smelled bullshit. I told them they were being brainwashed. They were trying to convince themselves they could be completely different in every way forever. Two weeks later they’d go right back to their familiar dysfunctional ways.

And I would give them that look.


carolyn says said...

that's a really great picture, it looks like a movie still

Alannah said...

Thanks! Like my Teen magazine? I would have been horrified back then, being caught reading something so inane...Kind of like if you were to catch me today buying Us Weekly (only under cover of deep night). I was a diehard Sassy subscriber.

Anonymous said...

it is a really good picture. It looks like you but nothing like you. Eerie.

GuruTruth said...

What a revealing post! I really love how you coin the term "Vacuum therapy". So many Large Group Awareness Training organizations are very similar and evolved from Lifespring.

You can find out lots more about this from resources at:

The Truth about Human Potential Seminars

(We have linked to your blog in a recent post).