In the early ‘70’s, I decided to write a book about “change”. The concept of change. Change without changing. Fear of change. Back in those years, I knew my mental and physical health depended on change. I did. I changed. It was a slow and arduous process – painful to those around me.
Why did I want to change, you ask? It started when I had my third child, Blake. In the middle of the night, I awoke my husband. I was sorta sure I was in labor. He said, “Be sure. Wake me when the pains are closer together.” No. Sorta sure worked for me. I quietly drove myself to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, I gave birth. I remember the doctor saying, “It is a boy”. I don’t remember anything else. When I woke up, I had an oxygen mask on my face, guard rails around my bed. I saw the doctor, my husband, Mother, and Daddy standing there. I heard the doctor saying, “She’s going to make it.”
After I calmed down, I asked what happened. I was told that everything had gone well. I had been taken to a private room because the Recovery Room was being remodeled. A nurse “happened” to peek in on me. When she did, she saw I was turning blue. What??? I was dying while no one was looking? Damn!! Pay attention, guys. Allergic? to the anesthesia? Emotional? No one knew.
They kept me in the hospital for a week or more. While there, I asked for help. I needed to talk to someone. No Baptists, please. My sister asked Mr. Bailey, the Episcopalian priest, to talk to me. He came while I was there. He listened, without interpretation or analysis.
When I got out of the hospital, I was in bad shape. Out of the blue, I was offered a job as Chairman of the Division of Humanities at a branch of the University of Georgia – Gainesville Junior College, teaching English, Speech, Speech Correction, Drama. It helped, yet at home, I cried a lot. “What’s wrong, Janet? Just tell us what’s wrong.” “I don’t know.” “I don’t know”. Someone suggested I see a psychiatrist. What??? Mother was horrified.
For nine months, I saw Dr. Cooper. I don’t remember much about it other than he convinced me that I controlled my life. Not Mother. Not Daddy. Not my husband. Not the neighbors. Not all the people I was trying to please. At that point, I made a choice. I would change my life. I would move to California. And, in July 1968, I drove out of town, cross-country to Los Angeles, California.
I had a rough time adjusting to life in California. So did my family. We all tried to make the best of it. Everyone thought it was a temporary move for a couple of years – I had been accepted into the UCLA Graduate School to get my PhD in Theatre History. My position as Chairman of the Division of Humanities required it. When I failed to get a fellowship (missed it by one person), we decided to stay for an extra year to establish residency to afford the tuition. My husband, a criminal attorney in Georgia, got a position as a prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
During that first year in Los Angeles, I got into an acting class with a teacher Lawrence Merrick. In class, I met actor John Prince. He was a friend of my friend Jimmie Ralston. After class, we all would go for coffee and talk about life – that was supposed to help our acting. John said he went to weekend retreats led by Ira Progoff, a student of Carl Jung. He suggested I go. I agreed.
The first weekend was confusing. I didn’t understand a lot of what was said. Ira talked about an inner life and the need to get in touch with it through work in a personal Journal. Each person is like a well in a circle of wells. If that person goes down into his own well every day, he gets in touch with his inner life, i.e., thoughts, feelings, dreams, fantasies without interpretation or analysis. He writes what comes to him. Reads it aloud – to himself or to others in a group.
In a workshop – time pauses. All before is past; all after is future. During the pause, one goes down. There, he can dialogue with persons (uncompleted relationships), dialogue with works (with committed works), dialogue about group experiences (other than the Workshop). He can write about his dreams. The aim is to get seriously involved with the dialogue.
I began the work in 1969. In 1971, I wrote in my Journal: “I will write a book. My book title will be This Woman’s Search. The gist of it will be: ‘OK, here is the story. This is what I did and what has worked for me. I’ll tell you. All you need to do is listen and see if you can use any of it. Hopefully, something will hit you, and you will be motivated to do it, at least begin it. I could also call my book A Search in Progress.” In 1972 and 1973, I vowed to start my book.
In 2013, I published Janet Tallulah. It covers those “entry” years in L.A. – years when I made unalterable choices that affected my life and the lives of my family. It is for sale on www.amazon.com and www.smashwords.com under the name “Jay W. MacIntosh”.
Now, Ira is dead. Workshop leaders are dead. My family of origin is dead. Steve is dead. Many of my friends are dead. I live in France. For the record, I still go down into my well. There, I meet up with my best friend, my inner life named Janet Tallulah. We have come to know each other pretty well over the years. We talk. And, we write – thoughts, feelings, dreams, fantasies. Without judgment. Without interpretation. Without analysis. It matters.