April 6, 2023

I Turned my Power Over to Someone else & learned a Valuable Lesson in Healing.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

Whoever says that and means it is either stone-cold oblivious or fully enlightened. I seem to be somewhere in between.

Recently, I experienced a barrage of verbal aggression the likes of which I’ve never before experienced, thank God. Although I think I’m handling it pretty darned well, it threw me for a proverbial loop.

Of all things, this aggression was at the hands of someone I’ve been paying generously to help me heal. She has the reputation of being among the best in her field and was recommended by a kind doctor friend as a sort of last resort.

If anyone could finally help me, she could! Or so we’d hoped.

After a year or more, my brilliant friend had been unable to figure out how to help me. He recently realized that this woman might be just the one to free me from the stagnation and weakness I’ve been plagued with ever since Trond died. Despite the expense and the challenge of getting to her office, since I’m not driving right now, I was all in and pretty excited that the end of my long ordeal might be in sight.

The first few weeks seemed promising enough. Although there was no noticeable improvement in my energy or well-being, her work seemed skillful and she said she was positive she could help me heal. Given her reputation and decades of experience, I had no reason to doubt her.

The fateful appointment didn’t begin well. After keeping me waiting for more than an hour, she finally came into the room texting furiously and sat down in the chair near me…still texting. She asked how I was, and as I answered, the texting continued. She then asked me to get on the treatment table, which I promptly did.

Since she was still texting as I sat there waiting, I asked her whether what she was texting about had anything to do with me. She said it didn’t and finally stopped. She looked annoyed though, so I asked, “Is it okay?”

“No, it is not okay,” she replied, as she began to work on me. Then she moved to the other side of the table and sternly announced that she was getting angry. I had no idea what was happening, as I hadn’t said anything other than my previous question. Why was she angry?

What ensued was a tirade that still makes me tremble to recount. She said I was a “know-it-all” who “has an answer for everything,” and that I am “empty inside.” Trying to understand her accusation, I suggested that in the Buddhist tradition being empty inside might not be such a bad thing. I had noticed Buddha statues in her home, so maybe that’s what she meant?

Apparently not, because that observation seemed to make things worse. “There you go again!” she said. My attempt to clarify was proving I indeed had answers to everything. I told her that I didn’t have an answer, I was simply trying to understand what she meant. But instead of elaborating on why she was so furious, she continued saying, as if it were a mantra, “You are empty inside.”

Lying supine on her table, I couldn’t have been more vulnerable. When she had gotten angry the week before, I’d decided to give her a second chance but also recognized that if it happened again, I’d only further infuriate her were I to try to defend myself. So I stayed quiet and managed not to burst into tears at this strange, deeply unsettling interaction.

But she wasn’t finished, and went on to say that I had put her in an untenable situation, one that she couldn’t tolerate. When I asked what that was exactly, she couldn’t answer. There was no rhyme nor reason to her accusations. But boy, did they sting nonetheless.

I knew instinctively that her behavior had nothing to do with me—except perhaps that she was frustrated I was not getting better after a few weeks under her care. She went so far as to say, several times, that I definitely was better, suggesting it was my fault for not feeling it.

After processing all this for a few days, I’ve come to understand that maybe her ego couldn’t handle that I wasn’t responding to her well-reputed work. And what’s more—and more interesting to me—is that calling me “empty inside” seemed to be a straight-out projection of her own inner state.

I think she saw, and maybe it pained her, that I am not empty inside. That I do have some answers—a modicum of wisdom—from years of down and dirty personal excavation. Because of my relative inner strength, and because I didn’t react with anger, I was an all-too-convenient projection screen for her deep-seated anger.

I had picked up on some negativity and what seemed like unhappiness from her before we had issues the first time. Fair warnings I had ignored. Why didn’t I listen to my inner promptings that something was off? It’s pretty darn simple. I’m desperate to regain enough energy to have a life worth living, no one else could help me, and in my desperation, I supposed she held the key.

Silly me. I have known better in the past and should’ve known all along that I—and I alone—hold the key to my own precious well-being. With her, as I’ve done before, I turned my power over to someone who is not me, and got hit with the perfect lesson in why that’s always a terrible idea.

But one of her accusations was, in fact, right on. She’d been telling me impatiently for weeks that I am living from my head instead of from my heart, and every time she said it, I agreed with her. I do indeed overthink almost everything these days, and it’s driving me crazy. Because what I long to do is live entirely from my poor, great, broken heart.

But the perennial question is how do I do that more effectively? As someone who taught myriad spiritual seekers how to relax and breathe and move from their heads down in to their bodies and hearts, I should know better. And I do.

All I need to do, of course, is give up all these useless mental machinations and give them over to God. To stop fighting and swimming against the tide. To let life be exactly the way that it is.

I must learn to let myself be right here in the weak, depleted shape I am in, all the while practicing the patience of a living saint. That’s it. Sometimes, that’s all any of us can do.

Good luck with that, dear Suzanne. Good luck!


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