Each of the modalities I offer I picked up along a long journey of healing and awakening, here is a roughly chronological narrative overview:
First chapter: flight and safety
My childhood as I could recall, was peaceful and idyllic. I was born in 1971 and grew up in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. My mum taught fashion at a local community college and my Dad was a driving instructor. I have one older brother – and later I discovered – an older half sister.
Myself and my brother had the comfort of libertarian parents, one went to art college, the other a former teddy boy: life was sweet and often a party in our home. Yet by the age of 15 I was regularly drinking to mask acute social anxiety.
My early twenties could be described in two ways: an expansive and magical period of travel that extended from Asia through to Eastern Europe.
Or looked at another way, it was a flight from growing alcohol and drug abuse issues, which in turn masked depression and a death urge. My travels veered into homelessness and escapades so dangerous, it is a miracle I didn’t die.
In my mid twenties having returned to the UK – and once again erring between adventure and flight – I packed a few possessions into a recently acquired Lada and drove to the Lake District. Underlying was a silent knowledge of my need escape downwards spirals of addiction.
Answering an advert – which I swear an angel put under my nose – I became a conservationist and forester in Cumbria, funded by a European enterprise scheme for the long term unemployed.
Hauling tools for miles across sites of outstanding natural beauty – to build stone paths, walls and lay hedges – was to be my first phase of embodied healing.
Chapter two: first death then creativity
In 1996 aged 26, I returned to Wolverhampton to care for my Mum who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Feeing unable to leave the family home immediately after her death, I stayed on went to university.
I thrived through creativity and gained a first class BA Hon’s in Wolverhampton, then an MFA from Newcastle University. For the first time in an educational context, the more I was my true self in all its creative (and diligently hard working) madness and glory, the more I was rewarded.
After university I had some years flourishing in an early to mid arts career. I received artist commissions, residencies, arts council grants, and went on a teaching circuit that took in 4 different universities (see my CV for more details).
Chapter 3: sexuality & relationship
However in the background – aged 33 – I was aware of having been in a celibate relationship for 7 years. The underlying cause was a deep unspoken shame: experiencing little pleasure in my genitals, I had been anorgasmic (with others) for most of my life.
And so my journey into Tantra began in 2003. I plunged in feet first and uncovered the first layers of trauma which had led to my early addiction issues. In time – and through alot of workshop hours – I became multi orgasmic, and my social anxiety subsided for the first time in my life.
By 2007 I was running a thriving tantra peer group in London, by 2009 I had given up my career in the arts to follow my new passion and become a full time tantra practitioner.
Tantra remained my passion for some years, till once again I felt the by now dreaded (“why can’t I just settle and be content for goodness sake!”) sensation of itchy feet …
Chapter 4: zen & enlightenment
My Tantra teachers talked about “finding your bliss” and alluded to enlightenment, but the goal of the work seemed to be more about relationship and sexuality. I gained much from my teachers of western neo tantra practice, for which I am truly grateful.
And also I became immersed in the writings of Sri Ramana Maharashi and longed to experience what he spoke of. It was then I discovered an odd little Zen School, in Kings Cross, with an even odder pair of teachers.
Greg and Robin: their work ranged from smacking me with an uncompromising Zen stick about the delusions of “my tantra”, through to channelling and a healing school – topped off with an admirable raft of social justice work.
I sat alongside them on and off, both as friends and teachers, for around 7 years. The main vehicle for their teachings was intensive retreats called Enlightenment for All, during which I had two enlightenment experiences.
As they foretold, the moment itself was so simple that in retrospect, it was obvious it had occurred many times before. But I had been looking for something else – for fireworks – or to suddenly be someone different, someone special.
As they also foretold, in the aftermath of the first realisation it felt like an express train had run through my chest. They explained this was just the ego coming to terms with the experience. I spent the next day or so at the centre recovering, with occasional excursions round local streets now rendered matrix like to my eyes.
The two simple realisations I had were “I am God” and “I am love”. I will write in more length about these at some point. But safe to say these two moments unfolded in subsequent years; they continue to unfold and underpin everything that follows.
Chapter 5: another death & the ancestors
In 2011 I was called to Spain, to look after my Dad as he died of cancer. Some years after he died, a cousin told me she had always believed him to be Romany. She spoke of this as if an open family secret, though it was news to me.
There followed several years of intensive family research to discover my origins. Parts of my Dads tree remain a mystery that defy even the best genealogy experts, one of whom took up my case for free she found it so interesting!
In the absence of resolution, I began to fill in the blanks of my history with family constellations. It was here that I began to return once again to the personal and relational issues that had first motivated me into Tantra. For whilst I had thoroughly cured the anorgasmia issue, sustained intimate relationship still eluded me.
Once when staying with my father before he died, I dreamt about a little girl, she looked lost and I went to pick her up. Moving closer, I recoiled and gagged from a visceral stench of stale urine before scooping her up in my arms.
I had seen her in dreams before floating in a bubble, this was the first time I touched her. Naked gangly legs and vulva were so urine encrusted that when I tried to move her, I found she had stuck to me. In subsequent dreams I gently bathed and clothed her.
This dream was so disturbing I told my Dad about it and pondered why I should have such nightmares. He went quiet, but when walking on the beach the next day, he told me my Mum had suffered episodic depression in the years after I was born.
He took her to the doctors who shamed them both with the instruction “pull yourself together”. So they colluded to hide that a few times a year, she would go to bed for a month and not get up. During these times, my Dad said he would pop home from his work and find us kids “feral”. A few years passed – and it stopped – so they never spoke of it again.
It behoves me to say that this was not the entirety of my early years experience. I was also proudly shown off as a baby, with a beaming smile – by a radiant mum to who was loved by many. Through the haze of my tears, I am certain people stood in the aisles during her funeral at the local cathedral.
But these secret occasions left their mark and became the primary site of my work with a family constellations therapist for around two years. I came to realise that I probably had CPTSD from these early infant nurture interrupts.
A great deal of reading on this topic – along with the skill of my therapist – landed the last few pieces for me. Pieces enough to feel a sustained sense of inner thriving and wellbeing that reached everywhere, both inwardly and outwards in my life.
I was so excited to discover what family constellations could do, that I did as is my habit – I trained in it! For good measure I added a rebirthing breathwork qualification too.
Out of this …
Chapter 6: true self systems is born
As I write this in 2018, what happens in this chapter is yet to be written – and also – it is already written. For I feel wholly at home as I write, words indwelling and emergent from a place that is known.
I have wondered at the madly eclectic nature of my trainings in life: from forestry through to art, Tantra, Zen and various forms of therapy. However: this is what it took to truly know myself, so this is what it took.
A teacher questioned the name of this site, for the term ‘true self’ does set up the duality of there being a false one. This can create all sorts of struggle, as we seek one and reject what we perceive to be the other.
His question delayed this site for over a year, which fact I am glad about. For in the interim I realised he spoke from a place of having rarely had cause to question fundamentals of his identity.
Everything of who I am has been up for question. It can feel terribly painful to wake up each day with ones sense of self so very lost, that answers to even the most basic questions elude us.
I stayed with the name, trusting it would speak to those to whom it needed to.
I am Rose, your true self guide, destination you.
Come home now, come on home,
A fire is lit, there is water on the stove …
Rest in now, you have arrived.