A friend came to me and asked me to help his mother, who, in her 70’s, had injured herself and lost the will to go through the pain and discomfort of rehab. He was frightened for her, loved her, and although I offered to do it for free, he paid me quite well for a series of sessions.
I began speaking to “Emily”, who had had a hard life. An abusive marriage which broke her down, and a work life in hard physical mill work that had taken her body to the breaking point. As is true with many, many good parents, the only thing that made the sacrifice worthwhile was her love of her family.
When she injured herself, she WANTED to believe that she could recover, but had lost faith. Luckily, she had cast her bread upon the waters: her son adores her, and brought a new ally into the picture. Me. Big responsibility. For every conceivable reason, I wanted to help her.
She didn’t believe anyone or anything could help, but agreed to try to make her son happy. He adored her, she trusted him and wanted him to be happy. A tenuous thread, but people have done more with less.
We had a series of ten sessions, paid in advance. The first session was just getting to know who she was. She could speak of her son and his accomplishments, but not her own life. When she spoke of her own life, her only pleasure was endurance, her ability to withstand pain for the sake of her family.
She saw herself as broken, and finished. It was devastating, but I refused to believe that this strong, good woman could not find her way back to the light.
Even her childhood had been hard: distant father, beaten-down mother. By the third session, I started noticing something: she spoke of one thing that caused her voice to become happier. A horse she had owned as a child. How sometime she would sneak away with that horse and go riding in the hills. It was an old horse, and no one else wanted her, but when the two of them were together they were free.
A light went on in my head. THIS was what I’d been looking for. I had her relax deeply, breathe slowly taking herself into a state of auto-hypnosis, and visualize herself in a dark room, sitting and facing a mirror. Begin to see the light inside her body. It was faint, and scattered, but I had a suspicion, a theory that had worked before. I had her collect the light into a solid mass, and she did so. Asked her to shape that mass into a human child, and asked her about how large that child was.
As I suspected, the mass was about the size of a twelve year old girl. The age she was at her positive memory. Fantastic. The light you can visualize within yourself will make a human being about the age you were when the damage occurred. This means that some people will have a twelve year old. Some a baby. Some an unborn child. Some people will insist that they were never nurtured and loved, but this is an illusion: human children who are not nurtured in infancy will die. “Failure to thrive.” What they mean is that they have no CONSCIOUS memory, meaning that whatever nurturing they got they got before the age of about two.
I spent a session having Emily get to know that twelve year old again. Listen to what she had to say, and tell her than “her mommy is here now. And will protect and care for her.” That caused tears. That twelve year old had worked so hard, for so long, to so little acknowledgement.
And her only pleasure was taking this broken-down horse out for rides in the mountains of her childhood. I got her to remember those rides, remember how the wind felt on her face, in her hair. The feeling of her horse (call her “Storm”) beneath her, giving her everything she could, feeding on the love and appreciation of the one human being who saw the beauty and strength, not just the scars and age.
And as she began to remember how much she had loved Storm, and would have done anything for Storm, as Storm had given her everything she had, Emily began to change. Her body had carried her, provided for her, provided for her children. It was “an old horse” but one worthy of love. Could she still see the beauty within, as she had with Storm? Could she help her body express whatever life remained within it?
Because children live in an ocean of energy, health and aliveness. As you age it narrows to a river, and then a stream. The master learns to find that flow, and tap into it, even as it gets smaller and smaller. And like making an ice culture in the desert, every day there is a little less ice…but you can learn to make something a little more beautiful every day.
She went back to rehab. It was painful, and she wanted to quit. But…would she have quit on Storm? Would she forget that twelve year old girl, who just wanted to feel the wind and sun on her face? To forget trouble for just a little while? If it was her job, as “Mom”, to exert the discipline, was it not worth it to give little Emily the joy she deserved, even if she no longer swam in an infinite ocean of possibility, was there no still water to swim in, or at least drink, if she had greater and greater focus?
And by week six, she was engaged with the process. And by week eight, she found joy in walking, and feeling the rain on her face, knowing that her aches and pains were symbols of a life lived in contribution to others, and that her son had seen her, loved her, and brought her the resource she needed to rise above her pains and understand and praise the heart and spirit that had taken her so far.
And by week nine, she didn’t need me any more.
I was never happier to lose a client. All she needed to do was find that child within her, and comfort her, and be willing to do anything in the world to see her smile.
And of course to love that old horse, who had given everything a horse can, and only wanted to be loved in return.