The Healing Power of Strangers
“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
Today was therapy day which was the first session since our big internal revelation about functioning as a team. After some formalities in conversation we start our work with the our internal group all in one place. Our protector stands at the plate with a serious, yet also playful, tone as the one who would take direction for the group. Her blazing stare along with those of her “posse” is enough to cause hesitation and chills with many. She stares at all members with an almost, “I dare you to step out of line” gaze. “Coach” then directs her to address those most ostracized. She reluctantly begins to speak to these nicely as she’s told. When asked what she thought she responds with, “those words tasted like vinegar rolling of my lips.” The therapeutic point was eventually made, understood and internalize later in the session. And yes, we are still chewing on all of that.
The topics that I despise the most is food, eating and body image soon became the topic of conversation. The correlations between this struggle and particular traumas were addressed. And then came the topic about a specific food that I can almost never turn down….SUSHI!!!!! The is an internally approved food but one in particular like to eat sushi like it’s the only “life force” for survival. The protector is explained to about the importance of not being so rigid with food choices and abusive comments. And of course when even internal children are around they pick up on things said by “coach” too. The kids start shouting with excitement, “Chicken nuggets and ketchup packets…HOORAY!” Then statements spoken are, “Can we have sushi tonight? Please!!!” Rolling her eyes she sternly but calmly says, “No.”
We get our assignment for the coming week and I tell “coach” goodbye until next time. I leave there nervous about the teen’s distaste and controlling nature about eating. And our little natives were definitely restless. Over and over I would hear, “Please let me have some sushi!!” “Yea and chicken nuggets and candy too!!!! And Ketchup!!!” I knew that she wouldn’t tolerate much more but the chants would not stop. She tries to stay restrained but frustration leads to her snapping at those chanting, “Stop it! Just stop it! I said No!” The children always seem to be protected from the majority of her abuse and they certainly know this. A certain little 7 year-old says, “Coach says for you to not be an asshole. And you’re being an asshole. I’m going to tell her!” This, thankfully, seems to be the only bad word that he says but he can definitely use it liberally at times. She huffs and puffs like she’s about to blow the house down and says through gritted teeth, “Fine go get some sushi then!” Cheers ring out while she grumbles.
We FINALLY settle on a place for the beloved sushi and make a B-Line for the restaurant. Once there I have a couple of tokes of my medicine with the hope that I can head off the already rising anxiety. I soon start to relax and get out of the car to watch the sushi piece-by-piece going to meet its maker. I quickly notice different people in the restaurant and hope that no one can seem me. Luckily, everyone’s attention seems to be on their own meal or conversation and they don’t notice me. I fix my plate and then sit down at my table. I start indulging in this little momentary slice of heaven. Even when eating completely alone in my room I will start rocking while eating. This doesn’t change when I’m in public. It seems to ease the pain of the entire event. I eat a couple of pieces and then the paranoia and anxiety explode with the thoughts, “This is bad! This is bad!” I put on my iPod to try to drown out the loud thoughts while continuing to rock. I look at my plate scared to eat another piece. My hands start shaking and I feel like I’m about to throw up. I look at my plate again and think, “But sushi is an approved food what’s the problem?” I realize the chaos is not from the protector but is coming from the one he married. She feels the weight and the stabs of his words, “Look at yourself. You eat like you’re in prison! Everyone is watching you. You disgust me!”
About 15 minutes has now gone by and the whole mood has now changed. And then…..we make eye contact with another patron. “Go! You’ve got to leave now because they just saw you”, I hear. I quickly get up and try to exit the restaurant as quickly and as inconspicuous as possible. I go to pay for my meal and notice a bald woman, at the register, who was obviously taking cancer treatments. I’m thinking, “Ok just please hurry.” I make small talk when it’s my turn to pay about how good the sushi was trying not to convey the difficulties of my recent struggle. The employee says, “Oh you like sushi? Sushi good for you. You not here long.” I say, “Yea, I’m kind of on a tight schedule.” All I want is to be out that front door and away from food.
I start walking to my car when the bald woman whom I’ve never met says, “I can tell you struggle with being here.” I try to blow it off and give a short answer so that I can move on. “Yea I struggle with being in public and eating issues”, I tell her. I keep walking to my target and she continues to follow closely beside me. I keep thinking, “Please don’t say anything intrusive lady. She is NOT in the mood.” The lady boldly says, “Honey can I pray for you?” Sirens go off internally by much more fierce protectors. “No religion! No religion!” I freeze. I start looking for particles of fairy dust in the area and thinking, “Damn I must’ve overpaid her today or something. How is this happening?” I oblige her by saying, “Yes, please do.” She prays specifically for my eating disorder issues and for some reason I know she means no harm.
I relax my guard a bit and we begin to talk briefly. I find out that she moved to Texas from New York to take part in her own healing not related to the cancer. After only a couple of minutes she says, “Honey, you’ve got to change to speaking healing in your words.” Ok….I start looking around for “coach” thinking she has me on hidden camera. Does this woman have a earpiece where “coach” is telling her to say these things? The whole moment seems surreal but comforting. I told her, “You know I’ve been told those same things recently.” She says, “No truer words. You might want to listen.” I tell her goodbye and thank her again for her kindness. I have no idea what her name was but something powerful had again happened at a time when I needed it.
I sit in my car for a few minutes trying to decipher everything that had just happened. Why? I wonder. She was a total stranger. Why does she even care? I get home a few minutes later with my fortune cookie still intact. I always love to read my fortune even if it says, “Your ship will come in before your dock rots.” This time I open the cookie up to have this written on the slip of paper, “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” Wow…just…wow.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”