THE BUDWIG CLINIC – 3E CENTRE
June 2017. Here I am, on the plane going to Germany. A month away from my family, my son. I could feel excitement mixed with a little apprehension. Was this the right decision? Was this going to finally heal me? Was I wasting a lot of money? Were the people I was going to charlatans?
At the airport, I went into a bookshop and a novel caught my eye. I had gone into the shop telling myself that under no circumstances would I buy another book (I always buy books). I was aimlessly scanning the shelves, when I felt drawn like a magnet to an orange cover. It was called The Alchemist by an author I had never heard of before, called Paolo Coelho. No. You are not buying a book today! I walked out. Only to walk back and buy it. Its force was more powerful than my will.
On the plane I was deep in thought, wondering what the journey would bring that I was about to start, when a man sat down in the seat next to me. I had started reading Paulo Coelho's book and suddenly my neighbour said:
“It’s a really good book.”
“Oh. Do you know it? I just bought it at the airport.”
“Yes, I read it years ago.”
I don't know why but for some reason what I told him in my next sentence was something I had never told anyone before: one day I would like to write a book. Where did that come from? How did I just confide in a total stranger my biggest dream that I until now I hadn't even dared admit openly to myself for years? Maybe precisely because he was a stranger? Maybe because I knew, if I never did write a book, it was fine. He wouldn't be able to ring me up and go ‘have you written it yet’. It felt big. It felt big to finally say it out loud.
I have dreamed my whole life of writing a book. It almost feels like "dreamed" is the wrong word, it's more like "I have known my whole life I would one day write a book". As odd as this might sound. When I was 18, a thought popped into my head that "I would to ruin my life first before I could write a book". I have no idea where that thought came from. It just materialized. Just that one sentence, on its own, literally just like that. No further explanation.
I think I have wanted to write all my life. As a child I would spend hours reading books, stories, fairy tales. Whenever anyone was looking for me, they would find me in a chair or on top of my wardrobe (where I had made myself a little den), on the sofa or in the garden leaning against a tree reading. My best friend and I would write stories together in little note books. It dawned on me sitting on that plane, that maybe I had ruined my life enough now to finally write? What a strange thought once again.
There was something the man next to me said that stayed with me until today: “Make sure you write about something you have experienced yourself, because then you will write with authenticity. Then you will write about all those deep feelings and immerse yourself and your reader in what your story is about.” We had a good little chat about life, philosophizing, and the flight went quickly. It was one of those brief little gem human encounters that happen in life.
I took a taxi from the airport in Stuttgart to a little town called Remshalden. Taking a right turn in the middle of town, the taxi followed the winding road up a hill. All around us were fields, orchards and forests. We were leaving civilization, leaving people, airports, train stations, bus stops, shops and restaurants behind. This was going to be a month of just me. I had no idea what to expect. I expected nothing, and everything. I felt the fear of the unknown mingling with a sense of excitement in my stomach. Deep down I knew, this was my chance. My chance to find myself again. It felt like I had lost myself somewhere along my journey into motherhood, and had come in search of myself.
The taxi pulled up outside a white building. It didn't look like a clinic, more like a seminar centre. Joy and excitement mixed with a little trepidation. Who would spend the month with me? I knew, that there was going to be a group of us. A group of strangers, spending a month together, away from their normal lives, to find themselves. To heal. While I was healing from endometriosis, I knew most of the others would be healing from cancer. The 3E Centre runs their healing programme based on the teachings of Dr. Johanna Budwig and mainly supports cancer patients. I had no idea how ill the other people were going to be and part of me felt like a fraud. I didn't have the big C, my illness effected every day of my life, but it wasn't life-threatening. I did not have to be scared. I did not have to worry that endometriosis might kill me. Every cloud has a silver lining. Endometriosis was pretty bad in terms of pain but it didn’t come with a fear of death.
I couldn't see anyone else around so I rang the bell, and waited. Someone came, welcomed me warmly, and showed me to my room. We were all going to meet, at 6 o'clock, for a welcome meeting and dinner. The building was clean but spartan. It felt very friendly though. There was beautiful art work on the walls everywhere, which was very soothing. One was a painting of an Indian chief in full headdress, which straightaway spoke to my heart. There was a piano on the first floor. Big open windows looked out over countryside and forest. I knew I would be able to feel at home here for a month. A month. It felt like such a long time.
My room was on the ground floor, with patio doors leading out onto a little terrace. Looking out of the window, all I could see was green. It was balsam for the soul. There was a meadow in front of my terrace, a beautiful garden with a pond to my right and straight ahead I looked out onto an ancient forest. My heart sang. I knew, that this was the perfect place to find myself. I was a forest girl. I was never happier than when I was roaming amongst the trees, bushes and greenery of the forest. The musty scent of leaves and wood composting on the forest floor, birds singing in the canopy above. That's where I have always felt most at home.