I

srael. I clung to this land that gave me independence, spiritual energy, and anonymity. As seminary ended, I found an apartment with other girls, and purchased a new wardrobe that included many hooded tops — to hide my twisted back. Goal 1: achieve independence. Check. Goal 2: help others. I signed up for a life-coaching course, hoping it would put me in a position to assist people. I never guessed how much life coaching would help me. 

We sat in a random classroom, five Brits, fifteen Americans — a strange collection of people — ready to learn. “Why do you want to become a life coach?” our teacher asked.

Most of the Brits responded with a version of, “It’s less mushy than traditional talk therapy, but still helps people.” The Americans didn’t get what mushy meant. We paired up and happily began stepping on each other’s toes as we practiced out new skills.

I coached a 40-year-old classmate, the topic being her fear of closed spaces. I was out of my depth, but following the LC guide book, I helped her through it.

But then it was my turn. BUR (British Unspoken Rule) 1: Emotions are for pillows, not for public. “How do you feel about that?” my American student-coach asked me, in a practice session. “I don’t have emotions,” I responded, while my stomach churned with all the locked-in feelings.

In session 5, I let my fellow coach peek inside my walls. BUR 2: Walls are a vital structure of the soul. I felt naked as I shared my bus saga: “I love that I can get around this country, but my eyesight is so bad, I have problems identifying the bus number.”

“What would happen if you got on the wrong bus?” she asked.

Two weeks later, I answered that question when I found myself in an Arab village.