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My Experience of Coming Home After a Week of Intensive Therapy

Aaron McHugh

I felt anxious when the staff gave us back our phones. We were going home tomorrow, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. Onsite’s Living Centered Workshop helped me unravel the twines of trauma that kept me anchored in the past. For the first time in forty-three years, I had a diagnosis for why my life was repeatedly misfiring.

Cumberland Furnace, TN became one of the safest places on earth, but I wasn’t sure my new tools would stand up to the test of my real life.

I called my wife, and she was gracious. She’d been through the Milestones program, so she knew what I was facing. I told her I was sorry for everything “I was wrong. I didn’t know then what I know now”.

And so the journey began to re-engage my life, my relationships, my work, my habits, and medicators (an Onsite term for the things we use to cope with life e.g. alcohol), but now with deep awareness of my path towards the life I wanted.

Bill Lokey teaching on the effects of trauma (photo credit Onsite Workshops)

Two-degree shift

During the closing session the Onsite team, invited us to embrace one primary objective, to move forward with a series of two-degree shifts and that over time we would find ourselves in our desired destination.

The temptation is to leave and start ejecting and blowing up parts of our lives. In reality, for most of us, our lives don’t require 90 degrees hard right turns, but instead a constant steady shift in increments of one to two degrees.

I later learned that for an airline pilot flying from LA to Hawaii, two-degrees is the difference of arriving in Hawaii or missing the islands by 80 miles. Post Onsite I now know that I want a safe-on time-arrival at my life’s desired destination. I’m tired of feeling lost at sea, out of gas and in a tailspin.

At first, even this subtle, constant question seemed impossible “What’s the two-degree shift now?”. Upon returning home, I remember how unpracticed I felt. I remember feeling like there were two different voices inside of me, two versions of myself that I could choose to enroll in every conversation and every situation.

Option one was the self-assured guy who I knew well; he was very well practiced and sophisticated at doing life, getting stuff done and not needing anything from anybody. His approach to life backfired, and he helped me earn my lucky golden ticket to LCP.

Option two was this new guy, Mr. Two Degrees that I loved. We knew each other a long time ago, and we reconnected at Onsite. He was happy, calm and settled. He didn’t care a lot about outcomes or control; he cared more about being true to himself. His voice was a lot softer at first and sometimes harder to hear.

My new strategy for living

I began building in moments of pause to give myself a second to listen and give Mr. Two Degrees a chance to speak before I respond in a conversation or when making decisions. “Hey, Two Degrees, what do you think we should do here?”

When I arrived at Onsite, I was 80 miles from shore, was lost at sea and nearing a tailspin. Two-years later, life isn’t perfect, but I’m arriving more frequently in my desired destination with fuel in my tank and with the people I love at my side.

*Photo credits Onsite Workshop

Check out our Reboot Your Life Experiential Workshop October 13-15, Colorado Springs. Sign up details available here.

Donald Miller’s book, Scary Close: dropping the act and finding true intimacy is based on his experience at Onsite’s Living Centered program.

3 thoughts on “My Experience of Coming Home After a Week of Intensive Therapy

  1. Hi aaron,

    I’m thinking of attending onsite and was hoping we could maybe exchange a few emails or a call about your experience there? Whatever you are comfortable with, i would appreciate. thanks.

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