I walked in apologizing, a few minutes late.
I’d been told Dodie was a great healer and had made an appointment based on that and little else. She was a small woman, several years older than I—which is to say, of an age commonly associated with grandparents. She greeted me warmly.
I said, “I didn’t know you were right on the square.”
“Yes, I’ve been here for over twenty years.” I followed her through the entranceway, into the main part of the large open area. “Would you like something to drink? Water? Tea?”
“Tea sounds great.”
She listed a few varieties. I chose lemon-ginger and then asked, “Is there a restroom?”
“Yes, right through there.”
When I returned, she was sitting on a rocking chair, facing an empty rocking chair. Relaxing music played softly, and essential oils drifted up in steam from a nebulizer of sorts. I took my place in the empty chair, and took a sip of the tea that was on the table beside it. I looked at her with anticipation. With little knowledge of what to expect, I was open to whatever happened.
She said she had a lot of questions, and began reading them from a list. We covered injuries, surgeries and other traumas, therapy, body work and medications. Then she asked for a brief description of my relationship with each member of my family-of-origin and my current family.
When we’d finished that, she said, “Close your eyes.” When I had, she continued in a soft voice, asking how I felt in every individual part of my body. My mind drifted on the gentle current of her words as she made her way from my toes to the top of my head, waking awareness as she spoke. Then she asked, “What is your expectation from today’s session?”
I opened my eyes, blinking myself back into the room. “I just… I just thought it sounded interesting.”
She shifted the question to, “What is your goal for today?” but I was still stumped.
She rephrased again, and waited. Finally, I said, “Well… there is something I’ve been thinking about, but it’s very vague in my mind. I feel as if I’m… on the cusp of… an understanding.”
She nodded, jotting down my words, then asked, “If you got this understanding, where would you feel it in your body?”
I felt a momentary panic at being asked to translate this nebulous understanding into concrete, physical sensations, but before I had time to object, I suddenly knew exactly where I would feel it. I pointed to my forehead and my chest. “Here and here.”
“So, you’re third-eye and heart shakras,” she said as she made another note.
Standing, she set the pen and paper aside. I followed her to a massage table. “Lie on your back with your head at this end,” she instructed.
Feeling somewhat relieved that there was no undressing involved, I put a hand on the sheet-covered top. “Oh. Is it an air-mattress?”
“Yes.” She smiled.
I climbed onto the high surface. The mattress was shallow and softly inflated, so I sank in slightly. The head and the space under my knees were raised a few inches above the rest. I settled easily, but despite the comfortable support of the table, the soft lighting, the music, and the delicately-fragrant air, my anticipation was edging towards anxiety. When she asked, “Can I touch you?” I had to remind myself that she posed no threat before nodding my head.
She put her palms under my ankles, allowing the weight of my feet and legs hold us together. Her hands were very warm and the heat seemed to grow as we held that connection for what must have been most of a minute. I felt very relaxed by the time she moved her hands onto the sides of my ankles. She held them briefly and then repeated this process with the tops of my feet and shins. When her hands came to rest on my right knee, I tensed.
She asked, “What’s happening with your left hand?”
I was surprised to find that it was clenched into a fist. I opened my hand, and told her about the rheumatic fever. I’d mentioned it during the questions, but at this point I gave her more of the story.
When I was six, I was sick for two months.
I couldn’t walk.
My knees hurt—well, more like pins and needles. Often I couldn’t feel my legs at all.
It recurred several times.
I had to take a thick liquid antibiotic twice a day and have blood tests every week, for six years.
The doctor always checked my legs and knees first, and then I got the needle, so I associate the two.
I was terrified of those needles.
She affirmed that she heard me, repeating each piece.
My fist was clenched again. I relaxed it and said, “She really doesn’t want your hands there.”
She moved her hands off my knee. I took a breath, only then realizing I’d been holding it.
“What name did you go by when you were six?” She knew me as Shen, but was aware it was not my given name. I tried for a smooth inhale, but gathered a small gasp instead, then unclenched my fist once again as I said, “Sharon.”
“Shen, will you greet little Sharon?”
Again, my breath refused to come in smoothly. “Out loud?”
“Yes. Just greet little Sharon.”
The sound of my name crawled up my arms. I was ready to do anything to get her to stop saying it, but still stumbled over the suggestion that I greet the child-I-once-was. The concept of communicating with my inner child wasn’t foreign. I’d talked to her many times—in my mind and on paper—but never out loud. Anxious uncertainty flooded in along with a sense that I was going to “do it wrong”. Still, the little girl in question, who I could see in the distance behind my closed eyes, wasn’t the one making my skin crawl.
The silence had held for eons, it seemed, when Dodie broke it, asking, “Would you like to bring some angels in?”
I unclenched my fist, again, while simultaneously trying to unclench the resistance I had to the word, “angels”. That was a concept I’d yet to redefine. As my mind swirled over the possible characteristics of angels, I found something familiar. I said, “In the work I do with my therapist, we use something called my ‘Resources’. I think that might work here.”
“Tell me about that.”
“There’s the Nurturer, the Protector and…” explaining the Spiritual Core Self was more than I wanted to attempt. Instead, I went with another “angel” that had been with me, recently.“…and, I also have a Guide. He’s… well, he’s male, which surprised me.” I laughed a little.
“Yes. That kind of realization can be surprising.” I didn’t have time to reflect on that. She asked, “Would you like to bring those Resources in to talk to little Sharon?”
“Maybe the Nurturer?”
“Yes.” I saw her, already, standing just to my right where I always found her.
“Wonderful. Does the Nurturer have a name?”
A name? “No… she’s just… she’s an aspect of me.”
“Would you like to give her a name?”
I’m fairly sure I never answered that question. All the talk about names was making me exceedingly uncomfortable and by that point I was finding it difficult to come up with any words at all. In time, she asked if the Nurturer was there.
“They’re all here.”
“Wonderful. Maybe they’d like to greet little Sharon.”
I was beginning to feel like a failure as yet another resistance surfaced. My Resources didn’t speak out loud. I felt my jaw go tight, but visualized the Nurturer and Protector moving towards the little girl, who was sitting on the floor unable to walk. I said, “Hi,” more to indicate that they were there than to actually speak for them.
It was at this time that the first wave of energy passed through me. It started as a tingling vibration in my solar plexus, and spread out from there, reaching my fingers and toes about the time a second wave began.
Dodie moved and placed her hands on my mid-section, as if she knew something was happening there. She said, “Wow,” and then repeated that word a couple of times as more waves of energy washed through me.
I looked into the distance at the little girl who was sitting between the Nurturer and the Protector. I sensed my Guide and then saw him standing in front of me. Unlike any other time, he was looking directly at me—right into my eyes—and the waves of energy intensified. I felt a startlingly powerful connection with him that literally took my breath away.
While my Guide has often seemed very real to me in one sense, in that moment it seemed as if he was real in a physical way. My eyes flew open to see if it was true, but what I saw was a bright, white light, radiating in waves from the ceiling and moving right through me. It was so real and so intense I felt a glow of exhilaration that bordered on panic and the only thing that kept me from jumping from the table was the vertigo-fear that I was no longer tethered to the Earth. I lay still, absorbing the energy in waves of heat that was focused in the middle of my forehead, feeling as if I could fall into the light—and it was so much more than light. It was life. It was the energy of everything.
You wanted Ultimate Truth. Here it is.
Through that light, my Guide smiled and I felt his humor, his love, his joy and his knowing.
It’s more than I can bear
Yes, he thought to me. More than anyone needs, here.
His message didn’t come in words and so any translation I write feels lacking. Just the word, “here” holds a depth that felt overwhelming in that moment, and which eludes me now.
I must have said something about my Guide because Dodie asked me about him. Hearing her voice pulled me back. I took a breath and my eyes adjusted. The light gradually faded.
When I closed my eyes again, I sensed my guide right there again, but in the more expected way. He stood in front of me and a little to the right, and he was watching the little girl.
She smiled at the Nurturer, who was holding her hand.
The Protector was behind her.
When the Guide smiled at her, the little girl’s smile broadened. I was thinking (to her)
He’s always here
I think Dodie asked if my guide had a name, but I couldn’t focus on that or come up with a response. She tried again to get me to talk to the six-year-old, and then finally asked if she could speak to her.
“Hello, little Sharon. My name is Dodie.”
I ruffled only slightly at the sound of my name.
Dodie asked the six-year-old questions. I acted as intermediary. She’d been alone. She’d been afraid. She liked being with the Nurturer.
Then my guide turned to me—not a direct hit, like before, but even a glancing blow gave off electric waves of…
Joy… it’s joy… and it’s mine.
I started laughing. When I realized the Guide was laughing too, I laughed more. It just rolled out of me, uncontrollably. I felt laughter in the little girl, but it remained an inward laugh… a quiet—no silent laugh.
My laughter seemed loud and out of place in the quiet room, but it also felt good and I couldn’t have stopped, regardless. Dodie laughed with me, encouraging me as shared laughter will, and I started to feel less self-conscious. She said, “So much joy, and it’s been trapped there all this time.” Her hands were on my lower ribs, which trembled with release.
I said, “She’s just so happy to know.”
“What does little Sharon know?”
“She’s alive. She didn’t die. I hear her saying it.”
“Give her voice.”
I felt the silent laughter in the words as they came from my lips. “I didn’t die. I can walk and I can run and I’m alive!”
Dodie said, “You can walk and run and skip! And jump! And dance!”
My laughter was the song as the little girl stood. She teetered, balanced, swayed and then whirled. I felt her completely, from the pressure of her feet on the ground as she twirled to the way her hair bounced against the back of her neck. It felt powerful and real, but at the same time, I was surprised by how completely present “I” felt.
When the moment passed, I was left with a penetrating tingle in my lips and fingertips and a sense that the little girl was still dancing, but safe in a sheltered space. In the silence that followed, Dodie placed her palms under my back and once again let my weight hold us together. I don’t remember the exact words she used, next, but I interpreted them to mean it was time to focus on my father.
I hadn’t told her much about him, only that my first four years of therapy had been mostly concentrated on him. That told her plenty. The way I tensed when she mentioned him, likely told her more.
I said, “Okay,” and immediately felt as if he’d been waiting just out of sight.
He stepped forward.
I took a big breath and another, suddenly feeling as if I wasn’t getting enough air. The tingling in my lips and fingertips spread out over my face and hands.
I had to work at paying attention to Dodie’s words. “What do you see? What do you feel?”
The energy grew and grew until my hands and face were literally numb and the tingling coursed through my whole body. I kept trying to catch my breath.
Dodie suggested, “Let’s bring your protector here. Have her stand between you and your father.”
Strong, sure, unconcerned, she moved to stand between me and my father. Finally, I got a good breath.
“Now put little Sharon behind you, so she has another layer of protection.”
I swept away the twinge at hearing my name with another calming breath, and then moved the little girl behind me.
I felt less stressed, but the energy was still very high and still climbing.
“Where do you feel the energy?”
Did I tell her?
I pointed to my midsection.
“If you can get a visual, tell me what you see.”
I saw it clearly, but I found it difficult to describe. “It’s… kind of like… a mushroom shape.”
“How big is it?”
“With my hands I showed her. It was wider than me, and was sticking out from my solar plexus at least six inches in front of me. The base of it was deep inside me.
“That’s a big mushroom,” she said.
I hadn’t meant it was a mushroom, only shaped like that, but then I realized it was more bulbous, pulsing outward, as if the top was stretched very thin and might burst. “The base of it goes right through me,” I told her. “and out the back, like… like this thing is being fed through there… like there are long tendrils connected to… something. I don’t know what, but the energy comes in and has nowhere to go.”
She said, “Yes. I see. Why don’t you let it out.”
“I can’t let it touch my kids.”
The words were out before I knew I was going to say them.
“I have to hold on to all of it,” I said.
“Yes,” she said again, and then repeated it twice more as she moved her hands onto my right side and then over my rib cage. “It’s going right through you. What color is it?”
Again, I knew, but felt strange trying to describe it. “It’s… kind of yellowish… amber and white.”
I was trying to catch my breath, feeling like no air was getting through.
“What’s happening?” she asked.
“So much energy. It’s just… it’s so intense it’s… crushing…. like I can’t breathe. ”
I had never felt anything like that before. I watched it, studied it, judging the validity—the realness— of this pulsating thing.
“Where do you feel it the most?”
I thought only a moment before pointing.
“You’re stomach… and esophagus.”
“Yes.” That was exactly it.
“There’s something there.” She was silent for a time. After a long pause, she said, “You swallowed something.”
No no no no no
I was hyperventilating but couldn’t stop.
She said, “You had to swallow something.”
Oh god oh god oh god oh god
I turned my head away from her as tears came to my eyes. I realized, after a moment, that I was repeating, “No… no… no… no…” and shaking my head, while still keeping my face from ever turning directly towards her. I believe she asked me what I swallowed several times, but I was not going to say it. I just kept saying no. The word thrummed through me until I was living the depth of that word.
No no no no
My body felt so numb, I actually wondered if I could die. At the same time, the energy from that pulsing tawny heart was so strong, so engulfing, it seemed as if it was keeping me from getting any air.
“I want you to see your grandfather—your father’s father— standing right behind your father.”
It was hard to focus on anything, including her words.
My father’s father
I felt lost in the energy.
I didn’t have much memory of my paternal grandfather; I was only three when he died. It took a while, but eventually I visualized a large man, for that’s how he’d seemed to me. I saw him standing behind my father, and then tried to make sense of the fact that my father was taller, but somehow… somehow a child in my Grandfather’s eyes.
My father wants to stop me… to control me.
I heard Dodie ask questions, but I don’t remember what they were or if I answered.
Why? Why did he feel the need to have power over me—even more than anyone else in his life?
Fear radiated from him, as if I threatened his very being.
Why? Why would he be afraid of me? Why has he always been afraid of me?
I said, “He’s afraid of me.”
“Really,” she said. It wasn’t a question exactly.
“I believe he’s always been afraid of me. But I can’t imagine why.”
“Why don’t you ask him?”
I thought about it a moment. Then, in that safe, other-worldly connection, I asked. The response came not in words, but in bits and disconnected flashes. A story I’d heard many times unfolded in front of me as if I was there.
My father as a newborn, held by his mother.
My father at three days old, failing to thrive.
My grandmother, only twenty years old, handing her sleeping infant to a nurse who carries him through the operating room doors—not a modern-day surgery, but surgery as it was in 1924.
Panic in the operating room as my infant-father dies.
The doctor revives him, but sows him up quickly, not even bothering to use the dissolvable stitches inside because he knows this baby won’t survive.
“Get him out to his parents so they can say goodbye.”
My father’s eyes fluttering open.
His mother holding him to her breast. Her tears of relief as he swallows, finally getting nourishment that stays and sustains him.
My father at two weeks old, heading back into surgery to remove the stitches.
His mother holding him again, as he sleeps off the ether, counting his breaths until his eyes flutter open again.
The energy that washed through me carried every moment to my brain for later analyses, but prevented me from much coherent thought. I sensed that there was a connection between my illness when I was little, my father’s brush with death when he was a baby, and his fear of me, but I couldn’t imagine what it was.
I said, “I don’t understand. There is some connection… but I can’t get to it.”
“You will continue to process for days.”
I heard Candace in my mind, All will be revealed.
Dodie moved so she was standing at the head of the table. She reached under me and put her hands on the center of my back, her arms under my shoulders.
I looked again at my grandmother and understood her whole life. All her struggles… her determination that my father would never suffer like that again… her determination that hunger would never touch any of her three children as she raised them in the height of the depression, the intensity of her love for my grandfather, the devastation and anger when he died, and forty years of waiting to see him again.
I connected with her and I just got it.
And then the membrane broke. The lightness in my chest was instant and intense. That yellow-orange mushroom that had bulged out of me burst open and once again, I was laughing so hard I could hardly catch my breath.
As I laughed, I saw my grandparents smile while my father still stood solemnly. I understood that it was only a shadow of him, while the spirits of my ancestors who had passed from this world seemed solid and real.
Then I realized my other grandmother was there, too.
She smiled at me, and held my hand, and I felt a strong, loving connection that seemed to have been with me all through the years.
Tell your mother I love her very much. I don’t think she knows, she whispered to my mind.
I promised I would.
Dodie asked if that was a good stopping place.
I felt so drained, I couldn’t imagine anything more.
After some closing moment, Dodie stepped away from me. She said, “Take your time sitting up. You’re going to feel light-headed.”
That was a staggering understatement. I pushed myself up very slowly and gradually managed to sit. My whole body was tingling and awash with emotion.
“Do you need to use the restroom?” She asked.
“Yes, as soon as I can walk,” I said, laughing. I literally felt like I’d been drugged.
She laughed with me.
I looked at my watch and discovered that more than two hours had passed.
When I was once again sitting in the rocking chair, I took a sip of my tea.
“Do you want me to warm that up?”
“No… I actually prefer it like this.”
It was strong and cool and I drank it quickly, suddenly realizing how thirsty I was.
She said, “Scan your body. How do you feel?”
“Hungry. Tired. Still tingling.”
Looking at her notes from earlier, she said, “You had a goal of reaching an understanding. Did that happen?”
I nodded, thinking there had been several.
“And you thought you would feel this in your heart and third-eye shakras.”
The heat on my forehead…
The lightness in my chest…
She told me to have plenty to drink, to get plenty of rest, and that I might have “dreams and insights” over the next several days. “Take a walk around before you drive home. You’re going to be a little light-headed.”
I was. Even though I stopped for food and waited twenty minutes before heading home, I still drove off in the wrong direction for almost five miles. It took days for my mind to re-calibrate to something like normal. And, she was right, dreams and insights have brought new realizations and a sense of closure I was ready for.