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Healing From Intimidation

 When any kind of healing occurs; spiritual, physical, emotional or mental, I consider it a gift from God. It is a cause for celebration and gratitude. I want healing yet sometimes I am fearful of it as well. So when I am aware that God gifts me with the grace of healing, I can trust it and be glad.

Healing happens in a wide variety of ways, some subtle and small, others grand. God uses the way that makes the most sense for our souls. It’s as if God tailor makes the healing once we are open to it. One of my dear friends had a healing with her dead father who had died on her third birthday. No one ever talked about him after his death and it left a large void in her life. My friend took a big risk to find out from family members about her dad, even though it was very difficult for her. Eventually she was able to go to his graveside and talk with him, leaving flowers for him as a final amen. She felt healed, and sensed mutual love and forgiveness. When I did a similar thing, visiting my mother’s grave, the first words her spirit said to me warmed my heart.  “Thanks for coming here. I’ve been waiting for you for ten years.”

Healing is hard even though it is freeing. Sometimes we have to release a lot of baggage in order to receive even the possibility for healing. We may be holding onto fear, anger, injustice, bitterness, victim hood, resentment, vindication, revenge, guilt or a host of other debilitating emotions. So our call is to do the work on our side of the issue in ways that are healing for us, even if it doesn’t always occur overtly with the other person. I believe, though, that when we truly heal, the other person can feel it on some level even if they are not fully conscious of it.

I had what felt like a spontaneous healing experience that gave me confidence that I was making progress in my inner life. I have a history of allowing intimidating people into my life and then not being able to detach from them (a story that began in childhood). In this case I had been invited to a lunch with a woman who was interested in working with me on some projects. Over the course of the lunch it became apparent to me that she was very intense and quite opinionated. She was also charismatic and persuasive. I was feeling myself being taken in by her confidence and her way of enveloping the space around us. But then I began to feel a sense of suffocation that was familiar to me. When I gave a suggestion or voiced my ideas, she didn’t acknowledge them and didn’t seem to notice that she hadn’t heard me. I’ve been there before. I tried a few more times to interject some of my ideas but to no avail. I knew she would ask me to meet again and to endorse her work by joining her. I could also sense that this was a test for me. So at the end of the lunch I said, clearly but gently, that I felt her ideas were really good and that she would go a long way but that I would have to work too hard for my voice to be heard if I worked with her. I said I wasn’t up for that effort. We left our lunch and I never heard from her again. I felt free.

A more recent healing from my history of intimidation came to me in a waking dream state near an anniversary date of a sad but freeing event in my life. It was the anniversary of one of the most crucial times in my life, when I had the courage to say no to personal intimidation even though it cost me a great deal. In this recent waking dream a man had invited me to take his class, on a subject that I was not really interested in. I said I appreciated his invitation but “No, thanks.” He pursued me several times to persuade me to come. Each time I said no, that the class just didn’t fit for me right now. Again, in the dream, I saw this man at a professional event and he told my friends who were standing with me that perhaps now that I’d bumped into him I would finally be able to make a commitment to his class since I had been unable to make that commitment so far. I immediately felt intimidated, like my disinterest in his class had strangely become an issue, and that he was falsely suggesting that I was not willing to be committed.

But then there was a shift inside of me. Right there in the dream, right there in the moment, I took the time to go inside my own psyche, in front of the people standing around us. I knew that intimidating me in public was a way to up the ante, to deepen the control, because it is harder for me to disagree in public. When I went inside I found a different version of the story; my version, my truth about his intimidation. So I told my version of the story to the people around us and to him directly. In my version he would not take no for an answer even when I repeated it respectfully several times. So when he saw me in public he took the chance to shame me and to intimidate me into taking his class, thus gaining more power over me. I said I was not interested in his class and that it had nothing to do with fear of commitment. It had to do with my truth. I was clear, respectful and honest. He was shocked and he literally melted away, fading from the scene, leaving me with my friends.

I was quite amazed by this dream, particularly because I took the time, right in the moment, to go inside. My version of the story was so clear when I listened to my inner voice. I had clarity and courage right in the moment. It was another confirmation that I would recognize intimidation in the future when I experienced it and that I would not be as vulnerable to it as I had been in the past. I might be confronted with intimidating people but I knew I could trust my truth and my story—and take care of my needs. I felt as if I had been given an invisible gift of freedom from the tyranny of control. Since then I’ve had a chance to try out that newfound freedom whenever an intimidating person enters my life. I usually orchestrate an early exit or establish very clear boundaries. It works. What an incredible gift.

I wonder what other invisible gifts God has in store for me?

© Janet O. Hagberg, 2010. All rights reserved.

Reflections on this essay

When have you experienced a spontaneous thawing or reconciliation of a conflict?

What work had you done on your side of the issue in advance if any?

How have dreams had an impact on your relationships or your work?

How do you deal with intimidation or control, either yours or others?

What is a chronic vulnerability you are working on healing?

What impact does this healing have on your life?

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