Never miss an opportunity to heal yourself, no matter who it comes from.
Last week I started a new job and came face to face with someone I used to work with whom I had an overwhelming number of unresolved workplace issues. Immediately I was caught up in the fight or flight response and wanted to run out of that building screaming. Only when this happens to me I freeze like a deer caught in the headlights or am transfixed by the menacingly collective beady, narrowed, yellow eyes of a pack of hungry lions. I get so frightened I cannot think or move to save my life. I had run into an old nemesis for whom I had so many revenge fantasies it consumed a greater part of my life.
I stayed in this new job for a few days and got so engrossed in frantically working as hard as I could and hiding from this woman so much so that it was noticed I was not interacting with the rest of the girls. But they knew her and liked her and so they were the enemy, right?
On the way to work, I would pick off a small stem of white fragrantly scented flowers from a random garden and place it on my desk. It was my guardian angel protecting me against any evil spirits.
My therapist created an emergency appointment for me. I instinctively knew it was going to one of the hardest I ever had to face. I called her a people whisperer once because she has this uncanny natural ability to make me face my inner demons at the right time, in the right place, at the right moment and in the right manner – and with the right amount of compassion and understanding. With her more regressed clients she intertwines her personality with specific techniques.
She rattled my cage as gently as she possibly could and took me back to a place buried deep in my mind with correlating overtones of a similar situation, and then took me back even further to a much more scarier place; to what therapists call a preverbal state where language literally ceases and body sensations and feelings speak louder than words. A good therapist can do this, but a fantastic, brilliant, attuned people whisperer holds your hand, wraps her aura around your body and travels back in time with you. She cries with you, shedding tears of kindness and empathy as she literally takes your embedded pain from you and puts it in her own body. It’s not a solo event, it’s a shared journey with someone you trust and feel safe with.
My therapist, Joanne Woodward to my Sally Field, then gave me a small stem of white fragrantly scented flowers that she had picked from a random garden on her way to work that morning. It was the exact same flower I had picked the previous day to protect me from evil.
I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon with our relationship. When I am preverbal, in other words my head is operating in a space it used to occupy somewhere from birth to two years old – the preverbal stage of children – my therapist and I share an exceptional amount of synchronicity to the point where I believe in telepathy. My mother-in-law and her daughter are very close and have often shared telepathic moments. Mothers and daughters who enjoy close relationships often do.
I saw the light in her office that day. I saw why I over-reacted, I saw the clay and the putty and the less than subtle brush-strokes that made me who I am today, but I also saw the golden outline of the future and it wasn’t as scary anymore. I had tuned in to this other woman’s pain. My therapist can achieve more with her calm, serene, soft, tender and sensitive emotional wisdom than all the bulldozers in the world can. It’s like watching a butterfly move a mountain.
So when I got to work, the situation resolved itself so quickly my preverbal head was spinning. Three years of pain disappeared that afternoon in a flurry of extraordinary closure. This woman has brain cancer and has suffered more than I ever have. So I decided to indulge my primeval revenge fantasies by buying her a small flower arrangement and a card to wish her much health and happiness in the future and she, who had moved on three years ago, welcomed me aboard and said that it was great to see a familiar face. She then gave me a big hug, which was the second hug I’d received that day – the first being from my therapist.
If my past made me who I was, then my therapist has made me who I am today.
A good friend sent me this:
This issue is fundamental to Buddhist psychology. In his book THE WISE HEART, Jack Kornfield writes, at the beginning of chapter 16, “Suffering and Letting Go”:
“When I first became a monk in the forest monastery, [his teacher] Ajahn Chah welcomed me and then said, ‘I hope you’re not afraid to suffer.’ Taken aback by this greeting, I asked him what he meant. He continued, ‘There are two kinds of suffering. There’s the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering you face directly, and in doing so become free.”
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Last reviewed: 29 Aug 2009