Tamara Bess – Therapist and Center Director
Like everyone who is looking to build a happy, healthy life, you have to build from your roots: where and how your life began.
Tamara Bess, LMFT isn’t any different. We hope you enjoy her story of emergence. Her journey started with the spark of an answer buried deep within and grew into a developing awareness of self-motivating truths. From this she was able to claim herself as the guru of her own well being and be a teacher of others who stand ready to find their own path to safety, health, well-being and happiness.
While she was growing up, Tamara believed that the happiest, most successful, healthy life was surrounded by a “white picket fence” and looked something like a John Hughes film or a Currier and Ives painting. A serious student of how to create a good life, Tamara developed her template for successful living from the sources she knew best. Her interpretation of “The Rules” for how to create the life she wanted came from several sources:
- Traditions and basic beliefs passed down to her by her parents.
- A spiritual system of beliefs that she understood as the way to happiness as long as you colored inside the lines drawn by the Church.
- An underlying fear of trusting anything or anyone other than her parents or the Church (including herself).
- A belief that the only way to personal, emotional and spiritual fulfillment is through relationship: principally relationships developed in the roles of wife and mother.
- An underlying structure of self-limiting beliefs based on trauma
These rules created the foundation for her personal evolution, with two custom additions. The first, a form of self-evaluation, started in childhood. Tamara had a persistent, very strong habit of looking at the realities of her life and comparing them to the outcomes related to personal health, happiness and well-being. The second addition: freedom. Tamara has sought freedom to grow, freedom to heal, freedom to choose without restriction throughout her life.
These two qualities paved the way for evolution on a grand scale.
Each time she found herself at the crossroads of unhappiness, personal self-evaluation and freedom were her references.
Living her life based on “The Rules” led to what seemed to be never ending circles. When she believed she had made a choice that would lead to greater freedom and happiness, she found herself back in unhappiness and wondering how the patterns continued.
How many times does a person circle back before they desperately set off on the final journey to find a hero to rescue them or a guru to teach them the illusive answers they seek?
When Tamara began seeing the patterns and asking herself these very questions, she also developed a keen awareness that although she had worked very hard to remain awake and conscious in her choices, “The Rules” were still enacting their silent power over her every choice. The Rules had always maintained their power through the power of social interactions with others who held fast to the same principles. When guilt is the motivating factor behind the “White Picket Fence” it takes on the appearance and feel of a restriction instead of the intended gift or place of safety.
At exactly the moment when Tamara understood the depth of this dynamic, she could see clearly that guilt continued to play a part in her relationship choices. She had been trying to create her life based on a system of beliefs that ensured her greatest happiness and success while simultaneously trying to please someone else – or prevent others from experiencing the pain of their own choices.
The crossroads had presented themselves again. This time, Tamara could see clearly the underpinning motivations and dynamics down each path. On one road was the promise of autonomy, adventure, freedom, creativity, health and well-being. The other road (well traveled) held the intractable path of obligation, guilt and a philosophy for a life that didn’t meet her needs.
Although Tamara braved the road less traveled several times before, in search of spiritual freedom, emotional well-being and personal choice, this time was different. It was the deepest transformation of the soul that the choice of two roads had ever offered Tamara. As she expertly peered down the road with keen skill and hard earned experience, she could see remnants of attitudes and beliefs that no longer served her, deeply embedded into her custom mix. They had remained cleverly hidden in her blindspot, affecting every decision of her journey thus far. She could see remnants of attitudes and beliefs that no longer served her. Those she thought she had discarded. Yet they still wielded power. They remained on the road.
Remembering that freedom was a basic need that her childhood beliefs could and would not ever meet, Tamara moved forward with a sense of compassion for herself as well as for the template that no longer served her. The beliefs that made up the template weren’t inherently wrong. The patterns they encouraged weren’t the fault of those who had taught her in good faith. No. Instead, the old system was finally revealed as simply incompatible for the life Tamara wanted. In a state of psychological peace, her awareness simultaneously stretched over the past and into the future. She saw everything that she was and everything that she could be.
For most of her life, Tamara had been designing a new template to live by with the old one still in place. The result was mis-steps that prevented her from stepping into her true sense of worth and her best, most creative, happiest self. No matter how much progress she had made, one misstep based on a mistakenly held belief hindered progress for years. It was time to hit the delete button on the set of rules that no longer served her.
After hitting delete, Tamara felt first-hand the chaos that comes from getting rid of the old before the new is fully in place. However, she navigated roughshod over those jarring roads only to discover a method to travel smoothly without resistance to change. Her method is now crafted and refined; ready to pass on.
Tamara let go of everything she thought she knew and gained more wisdom than she had imagined. She let go of expectations and life started meeting her needs in abundance.
If you ask her about her life, she will tell you:
“I am proud to say that I am 51 years old. However, the reality is that up to this point, I have lived half of my life by other people’s rules. The truth is: I am incredible, talented, spiritually aware and full of life! I am my own best friend and guide. Oh! And I LOVE the freedom that brings me. I took my life into my own hands and designed a template just for me. It is not meant to be ‘passed down” or “on” to anyone. The joyous work of creating a personal template is up to each individual. All any outside source can truly do is guide an individual to their own answers.”
On November 22, 2017, if you witnessed a great surge of love emanating from Southern California, that was Tamara. She finally stepped completely into her own power and understanding. Everything begins with self. One of the greatest adventures she feels we can experience is discovering that we are our own hero. We have the ability to rescue ourselves from a life that does not serve us. Each of us is worthy of discovering the magnitude of our potential.
Like all of us, sometimes Tamara is her own enemy. Remaining good at getting out of one’s own way takes time and consistency, much like staying fit. Growth is an ongoing process. With compassion for self, Tamara holds the philosophy that evolution requires practice and introspection. She remains mindful in the ever-unfolding excavation process. To create new rules and melt the old ones we must follow the path of listening to the solar plexus chakra, discover the source of discomfort or dissonance, then eradicate the old scripting or belief. In doing so, we follow the path that Tamara leads: making our external environment resonate with a new, peaceful, healthy and happy internal reality. Like Tamara, we can also become our own ally.
Tamara’s family and friends are watching the change with incredible amounts of joy:
“What I am hearing from the people who love me is this: that I am finally seeing in myself what others have seen in me all along. They are celebrating me embracing everything they ever wanted for me. I have an ongoing consistent audience that is constantly feeding and supporting my change. Wow.”
Every person who embarks on a road to personal development and change is faced with a choice: to quietly treasure it, only sharing it with a select few or to guide others on their own journey. If the choice is to quietly treasure the change, there is a withdrawal which, in some ways prevents complete “re entry” into the world. Instead, they choose to protect and enjoy their new found peace. Tamara chooses to help others.
Along with Tamara’s personal metamorphosis has been a synchronicity with the Universe. Opportunity began pouring in almost immediately after she chose to embrace her new way of being. Tamara left a job that was not in alignment with her larger vision for her life. Yet, the same organization offered her an opportunity while maintaining their connection to her so that Tamara could step into her vision on a much larger scale. A beautiful new office now provides for her clients in a way the previous one could not. This is only the beginning.
The basic philosophy of Tamara’s old template was that if she did not conform to the rules, she would be a failure, unhappy and unhealthy. As a result, a lot of decisions were made from a fear-based motivation. Her new template is rooted in empowerment, a form of self-love. The result of making choices from a place of personal love is that Tamara knows she will continue to be happy, healthy and successful as she moves forward. There is no more fear of losing her freedom. There is no more “failure,” only opportunity. She trust herself in a way she never has before. Tamara is more successful and prosperous than she has ever been in her life. Her happiness and health come from within.
Her biggest takeaway from this chapter in her life:
“People seem to always be searching for that one ‘guru.’ Some would argue that life is a guru. In the strength of my freedom, I would say that my wish is to teach others what I have learned for myself: ‘I am the guru of my life. And as such, I am safe in my own hands’. I no longer need to look outside of myself for the answers.”
This is the foundational philosophy underlying Tamara’s work at The Center for Healthy Relationships: to empower her clients to become the gurus of their own lives and to become safe in their own hands.
Roger Portillio – A Journey of Self-Alignment
There is a notion in our culture that we spend our entire adult experience learning how to get over our childhood traumas. This could have been the reality for Roger Portillio were it not for his strong desire to enjoy life and feel consistent happiness engaging in healthy and meaningful relationships.
From an early age, Roger treated his home as more than a sanctuary. It was a fortress to keep out threats, rejection and painful experiences. He was a “homebody” in an effort to avoid the outside world. He would do the bare minimum to complete his tasks, engage the public as little as possible and quickly retreat to his place of protection. Conditioned by a tumultuous childhood, Roger found it challenging to interact with the public. He found himself deeply suspicious of people and their intentions.
Roger’s independence did not have roots in empowerment. By the contrary, it stemmed from a place of dismissal and exclusion. Adolescent experiences taught him not to ask questions or seek help. This lead to an exaggerated fear of rejection when asking for assistance, companionship or cooperation. This also distorted his ability to discover just how easy it is to engage people in social situations and get to know them.
Roger’s “normal” life would reach its crescendo upon graduating college. Like many of us, he had been able to justify and manage a fear-based need for sanctuary. His overly cautious approach to the public could be explained away as being conservative, if not responsible. He would soon discover that his “conservative” interaction was really a mask for the fear he felt inside.
Peering down the path of expectations that he had for himself, both professionally and personally, nearly left him emotionally paralyzed. Roger’s sense of “overwhelm” impaired his ability to function.
Until five years ago. The time had come for Roger to live in alignment with who he had become and his purpose. He had changed over the years. It was so subtle he had not noticed. The person he was as a youth and the man of today were preparing to part company. Roger was about to begin the great adventure of personal evolution. The nudge down this path started with a client he had been working with. The client’s story so strongly paralleled his own, that he found himself questioning his personal foundation.
Too often therapists, counselors and psychologists get into their line of work as a way to heal their own lives. Roger wondered if he had fallen into the same allurement. Had is choice in vocation been ego driven? Roger’s emotional response to his client’s life was unyielding, pressing harder with questions. Did he really want to help his clients or fix his childhood? Was he “in the moment” with his clients or in his past searching for answers? Overwhelmed by the possible truth, Roger defaulted to his intellectual filter. It always worked to bring objective clarity and exhausted emotional calm to troublesome events.
Roger wanted to ignore the life-changing catalyst. He wanted to justify the experience as an emotional reaction triggered by his client’s story. He wanted to return to what was familiar, no matter how uncomfortable and consider the matter resolved. Something inside him wouldn’t allow it. This time was different. He could not rationalize his personal query into submission. He turned to trusted colleagues to help him understand why the questions couldn’t be intellectualized. The response was not what he wanted to hear.
One of Rogers most trusted supervisors encouraged him to dig deep into these nagging questions. The idea of peering into the dark recesses of his past was, at the very least, unsettling. His supervisor directly and bluntly confronted Roger to face himself. The challenge to discover the truth sparked fear. Familiar apparitions of “paranoia” whispered their influence. Why was his supervisor pushing him to dig so deep? What were his intentions? Was his supervisor trying to sabotage his career? What did he stand to gain?
Roger realized, regardless of his past or what motivated him to become a therapist, he knew exactly what his motivation for being a therapist was in that very moment. The present moment is of the most importance, who he is not who he was. He recognized that there is no “fixing” the past, there is only understanding its impact on the present. Be present. Challenge accepted.
With great enthusiasm and even greater courage, Roger crossed the threshold into the journey of personal alignment. He gathered a safe nurturing support system to help him refine and tune the motivations of his choices. This would allow his choices to synchronize with his purpose. His colleague, Tamara Bess, is a guiding light for positive transformation. Others, allow him to see himself from another perspective.
Nothing intensified the urgency of aligning himself like discovering he was going to be a father thirteen months ago. The importance of leading by example was paramount. Roger focused on questions like:
- “What do I want to represent to my child?”
- “How do I define a ‘good’ therapist?”
- “Do I fit my definition of a ‘good’ therapist?”
- “Am I ‘walking’ the ‘talk’?”
Self-alignment is not accomplished overnight. Any ongoing improvement, whether it is physical, psychological or emotional health, takes practice and maintenance. The upkeep on personal alignment has taught Roger to ally himself with his nuclear family. He self-checks frequently asking, “Do my wife and child feel my support?” and “Do they feel I am present?”. Creating that alliance required Roger to speak up for himself and communicate. Poor communication is the enemy and invites in familiar voices of insecurity and suspicion. He practices knowing he is safe. He frequently checks in with his motivations. Are his motives fear based or empowered? If he puts himself in an uncomfortable situation, he will ask himself if it is out of childhood familiarity of discomfort or is it an opportunity to grow?
These days you won’t see Roger dashing home to hide from the outside world. If you meet him in public he will likely assert a handshake and graciously greet you. He has learned how effortless it is to get to know people. Engaging a conversation is as simple as a smile. If you should ever find yourself in need of his guidance, rest assured, he is present for a singular purpose; to support your journey of self-alignment.