Dry wood stick on beach stones“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. The day before yesterday I was hit with a barrage of verbal abuse 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, the abuse was at the hands of a woman who for the last six weeks 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 can finally help me, she can! Or so we 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 for almost ever since Trond died. Despite the expense and the challenge of getting to her office in the city—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 absolutely positive she could help me heal. Given her reputation and 40+ years of experience, I had no reason to doubt her.

The fateful appointment the other day didn’t begin well. After keeping me waiting for more than an hour, my would-be healer finally came into the room texting furiously. She sat down in the chair near me still texting. She asked me 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, so I asked “is it OK?” “No, it is not Ok” she replied, as she began to work on me. Then she moved to the other side of the table and sternly announced, “I’m about to get very angry.” I had no idea what was happening as I hadn’t said anything other than to ask the texting question. Why was she angry?

What ensued was a tirade of character assassination, which 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 (her house is replete with Buddha statues). Was that what she meant?

Apparently not, because that observation threw her into a complete rage. “There you go again!” she said. My attempt to clarify was proving I indeed had answers to everything. I said no, I didn’t have an answer. I was 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 much more vulnerable. When she had gotten irrationally angry with me the week before, I’d decided to give her a second chance. I’d also realized 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 personal assault.

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 angry accusations. Boy did they sting nonetheless.

I knew instinctively that her rage had nothing to do with me—except perhaps that she was angry I was not getting better after 5 weeks under her expert care. She went so far as to say several times that I definitely *am* better, suggesting it is my fault I’m not feeling it.

After processing all this for a few days, I’ve come to understand her fragile ego couldn’t handle that I seem immune to her well-reputed work. What’s more—and more interesting to me—it doesn’t take a degree in clinical psychology to see that calling me “empty inside” was a straight-out projection of the poor woman’s own sorry inner state.

Indeed, I think she sees, and it pains her, that I am not empty inside. And that I *do* have a lot of answers—a modicum of wisdom—from years of down and dirty personal excavation. Because of my relative inner strength, because I didn’t react with anger, I was an all too convenient projection screen for a deep-seated, amorphous rage.

I had sensed her unhappiness for a while and had picked up on her negative energy even before she got angry with me the first time. She had inappropriately told me about other clients she chewed out, and there had been mysterious door slammings, fair warnings I ignored. Why didn’t I listen to my inner promptings that something was off around there? It’s pretty darn simple. I’m desperate to regain enough energy to live 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 this time 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 my accuser’s accusations *is* right on. She’d been telling me impatiently for weeks that I am living in my head instead of from my heart, and every time she said it, I agreed with her. I do indeed overthink almost everything right now, and it’s driving me crazy, when 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? I, who taught myriad spiritual seekers how to relax and breathe and move from their heads down in to their bodies and hearts, *should* know better.

And I do. All I need to do, of course, is to give up all these useless mental machinations and give them over to God; to stop fighting and swimming against the tide; to let it be exactly the way that it is. I must learn to let myself be right here in exactly the weak, depleted shape I am in, all the while practicing the patience of a living saint. That’s all. That’s it. Good luck with that, dear Suzanne. Good luck!

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

A seasoned writer and mentor with a gift for helping people see and be their most authentic, empowered Self.

4 Comments

  1. MaurieA January 1, 2023 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Wow, Suzanne, there you are, in those words of your wisdom knowing what’s needed and calling you forth, just as you are!!

    • Suzanne Grenager January 2, 2023 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      Thank you, dear Maurie. I really appreciate that acknowledgment.

  2. Karen Latvala January 1, 2023 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Wow, Suzanne. That was a painful session and lesson. It seems you came to your own wise conclusion. It’s not easy. And it would be wonderful to have someone who could help your body feel better so you mind could relax. Trust yourself and trust the process. Much love to you.

    • Suzanne Grenager January 2, 2023 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Thank you, dear one, for those sweet words of encouragement and support.

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