The Freedom Zone™ is the vision of Sharon Brick and Donna Fullerton. Sharon is white, was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in New Jersey and is an out-lesbian. Donna is black, Jamaican and straight. So how, despite the differences in their life story, did they come to take the freedom journey together?
Here’s our story.
We created our first FreeZone over weekly coffee meet-ups where we talked about our lives and shared where we experienced freedom and where we experienced a loss of freedom. We found this inquiry process was working in our lives so we invited others to experience it for themselves through FreeSessions. Then we had the idea—let’s bring this new view of freedom to the world! And The Freedom Zone™ was born.
More about Donna
By practically any standard, I had a fulfilling life—I had rid myself of an unfulfilling marriage, had a successful marketing communications career, took regular vacations around the globe, participated in diverse activities (from tennis to the opera) and spent lots of quality time with close-knit family and friends.
As good as I felt about my life, I felt dead inside. I found myself asking the questions, “Is this all there is?” Since I didn’t have that special someone, I believed I would finally feel “whole” if I had someone in my life. This quest for love was so intense that I oscillated between equally painful positions. I would have no relationship at all and be wondering what was wrong with me. Or I would become involved in relationships with the first person who seemed interested in me, or with unavailable people who eventually left me. It finally occurred to me that there must be something going on with me that made me such a magnet for the unavailable. After all, the one thing that all my unsuccessful and unfulfilling relationships had in common was…me!
My desire for a partner brought me to the freedom inquiry. For the first time I started to look inside. I began to see the connection between feeling abandoned as a child and believing I needed someone to love me to feel good about myself.
Through the freedom inquiry I started seeing I could create a new reality, a life not based on the past. I did not have to live my adult life dominated by unconscious patterns developed as a small child. What I felt as a small child—that sense of longing for the love of my absent parents—will never, ever, ever be satisfied. So, no person can ever fill that gap. This has allowed me to open up to new possibilities in relationships and a real sense of freedom—with or without a romantic partner. In the process, I have grown to love myself, I have deepened my relationship with my parents and my friendships are more real and loving than they have ever been!
More about Sharon
I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a great life and a successful career. My life when viewed from the outside had been about accomplishment. But, the “inside” view of my life did not match up with the outward signs of achievement. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt like a fraud.
I had been in a seventeen-year-long relationship that wasn’t working for me.
I was settling for moments of happiness surrounded by feelings of desperation. I believed there was something more but didn’t know what to do to get there.
I knew there was something holding me back, something in me that had the key either to keep me locked up…or to free me. I began to inquire into my own life and asked, “What’s missing? Why am I not satisfied with my life?” When I asked this question, this is what I realized. I had been living a lie. A central fact of my life is that I am gay, and nobody knew it. Even though I was in this 17 year relationship with a woman, no one in my family knew, my business partners for twenty years didn’t know, practically no one in my entire life knew I was gay. I even limited friendships because of this secret. I so vigilantly guarded this secret that I compromised my own values. My own internalized homophobia—what I thought of myself, and my fear of what others thought of me because I was gay—kept me from authentically relating to other people. I was so afraid of not being loved and accepted. As for my family—it never occurred to anyone that the “single friend” I brought to every family function for years was my life partner! I was so deeply in the closet that I couldn’t imagine living any other life than the lie that I was living. I didn’t realize how much energy it took to keep this secret. I also failed to recognize the correlation between this secret and my lack of personal freedom. I had to reveal myself, to finally come out to the world.
This began my commitment to freedom and helped me overcome the difficulty of this life altering decision. It became intolerable to me to be anything less than authentic in every aspect of my life.
Did everybody embrace with delight my revelation that I was gay? Hardly. Many of my family members will not have the slightest contact with me, because of my sexual orientation. Does it bother me? Does it hurt? Of course it does.
But my freedom is paramount to me. No matter what, I’m going to be honest and authentic about who I am—in every phase of my life. For me, that commitment to authenticity is the foundation of freedom, and it has allowed me to go deeper in my own inquiry and to support others on their own freedom journeys as well.
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