In April of 2003, I was brought into the company of a sponsor from the Stirling Institute of Relation. He cultivated me through the Spring, and encouraged me to enroll in the October "Men's Weekend."
It's still not clear to me when or where Jewel starts and I stop. But my sponsor and his team clearly knew that they had gotten a line on a big fish. In the final interview, he told me that it was "time to let the genie out of the bottle."
As the weekend approached, my intimates began to express their concern. Some tried to redirect me to other groups. My father seemed to consider the whole matter an interesting experiment, but suggested that it would be years before I had successfully assimilated it, and warned that it might seriously derail my plans.
Jewel's concern also mounted. Two weeks prior to the experience, I was driving around Thousand Oaks, gathering some effects required for the weekend. I had pulled up at the corner of Moorpark and TO Boulevard, when I looked in the rear view mirror. There she was, wrapped in a muslin veil held in place by a large hat. She was driving a beat-up blue sedan. As I drove up TO Boulevard, looking for a place to get gas, she followed closely behind. I pulled into a gas station, but she drove on by. It was too public a location.
I was shocked and a little alarmed. My direct reaction: "Don't panic." I was right about that. While contractual restrictions prohibit me from revealing the events of my Men's Weekend, I shared with one of my spiritual advisors that I almost broke the Weekend - not because I intended too, but simply by being who I was. She told me that there were not very many people she would believe that of - but in my case, she would make an exception.
I received at least one significant gift from Justin Stirling, and that was an apprehension of male dysfunction that previously had escaped me. Not having put much thought into becoming a man's man, I never appreciated how much energy people might invest in escaping the dictates of common-sense with respect to psychological balance.
Unfortunately, the flip side was association with a group of people that cater to feminine dependency. Their assumption was that, in the context of a divorce, a mother's anger would destroy her children. They did not at all grasp the nature of childhood, and how much could be done by drawing upon past resources. They weren't even interested in asking. Bottom line: under no terms would they permit me to escape my spiritual "contract" with my ex-wife.