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Hannah van de Wouw

I was born in the Netherlands in 1955. I am a dental hygienist and also do a lot of pediatric dentistry with children that have fear for dental treatment.

Raised in a loving but emotionally poor family, I came out of this family as someone with enough skills, but emotionally never vulnerable, never saying no, a strong pleaser, always proving myself and trying to get others’ approval to take away my self-doubt and loneliness. It cost me my health; I got a lot of hormonal problems, migraine headaches for years, and later severe PMS and fatigue disease, and cancer at 52.

At 28, I met my first spiritual teacher, and I experienced a strong period of grace for three months and then a slow fading for two years. I got a glimpse of sanity. Freedom in every emotion that was not mine welcomed them all and, with that, welcomed everything inside and outside of me. I didn’t have to blame myself or others for what was happening inside of me. No defense was necessary. Clarity and intelligence were so much faster and grounded in this welcoming. The period of grace ended, and I had to relive my neurotic personality with so much shame because I knew the difference.

I had to try to refind this sanity. I became a spiritual seeker: Krishnamurti, Ramesh Balsekar, and Advaita Vedanta. I meet wonderful people, but like 1 % of my time seeking, I had revelations. The rest of the seeking felt hopeless. Ramesh taught me that God is the doer as well as the free person as for the neurotic person. That taught me to consciously accept my neurotic personality. I have learned to appreciate that almost as much as being free.

I did six years of training in inner child work. That helped, but The Work was the fast teacher—not the almost overwhelming grace as when I was 28, but gradually: one thought at a time. It was much easier for the mind to integrate the revelations. And with The Work came a strong structure of learning to be authentic instead of pleasing, learning to say no, learning to own myself also in my vulnerability, learning how to speak my truth. Back to sanity. I was growing in dignity and authenticity.

I give workshops to groups in my house, and I have learned not to say that I am without problems, without neuroses. I need my vulnerability, my not knowing, my not being able to do it, learning to own that in contact, and it is the truth. So when you meet me, I still share your problems. I am not an all-loving person yet; love is still too big a word for me, but friendliness is growing. I am still a beginner. My relationships started to become easier and more balanced. The loneliness still walks with me. Lately I find that I can stay friendly in almost all situations, silly to argue or blame. I am happy being alone.

For me, that is more than enough. I can tell you that The Work helped me through the cancer, letting go of the fear of the cancer to come back, letting go of my dearest friend who committed suicide, dealing with fatigue after cancer, going out of burn-out fast and that is wonderful, but the most important is that I am on my way back to relating in a way that I don’t have to blame myself nor you. The Work made me so lucky to relate to my mother before she died and the rest of the family came closer and closer.

I love to create a little community at my home on weekends and summer weeks, where people not only learn how to do The Work but also experience what it means to relate to each other with the help of The Work—no avoiding, speaking your truth, owning yourself, staying in your own business and learning, allowing, and having a good time.

Dutch, English, German
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