Bridget, a bright, articulate, 44-year-old “soccer mom” had much going for her. Happily married with three wonderful children, she had had a highly successful and challenging career in advertising before choosing to stay at home and care for her family. Everyone in Bridget’s community respected her for the way she seemed to easily balance her demanding life, and she was universally liked. A new-found budding interest in spiritual growth enriched her life even more.
There were two challenges, however, that Bridget had to face since becoming a homemaker.
The first one was that one of her children had a serious, crisis driven, chronic condition that was always in her attention. It took time and vigilance to care for her daughter and tenacity in seeking alternative solutions to the ones provided by Western medicine, as the side effects of the medications required to control her daughter’s illness were undesirable. She also had a major wakeup call of her own. Several years earlier she was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her neck. Medically, that had worked out well, and for this she professed to be very grateful.
Even though she professed to be grateful that her illness had not returned and that her daughter’s illness had stabilized, and even though she “protested” that she ought to feel wonderful about how her life was working out, nonetheless, Bridget was not happy. In fact, she was so unhappy that she admitted at our first meeting to feeling ambivalent about living since recovering from surgery. Not only did this make no sense to her, but she also felt extreme judgment towards herself for this ambivalence. Furthermore, she was deeply anxious about the effect that this ambivalence would have on her physical well-being, worrying that it could cause the disease to return.
To add insult to injury, Bridget also experienced a very unusual and agitating symptom that had plagued her since the surgery. Several times a week she would experience a sensation that could best be described as “having a noose tied around my neck,” which was “maddening.” Bridget was frustrated because her surgeon told her repeatedly that nothing about the surgery could account for such a symptom. It was at this point that Bridget decided to explore Life Centered Therapy.
In working together, we discovered Bridget’s ambivalence about living and the “maddening”
sensation in her neck were connected even though this made no apparent sense. The first thing we uncovered, in ways that we will share with you later, was that Bridget experienced herself in a no-win situation. Even though she did not consciously know the full nature of this no-win situation, when she allowed herself to experience it, she felt a profound sadness, which she described as a deep heaviness and constriction in her heart.
When she brought all of her attention to the sensations in her heart and asked her heart pain what it had come to share with her, it articulated clearly and concisely the unconscious dilemma she was experiencing. The heart said, “If I should survive and be able to live, and be here to take care of my children and I am not able to truly open my heart to them, to nourish and care for them fully, I would be better off dead.” The heart went on to share its profound fear that it was Bridget’s time to explore her own needs and soul longings, which would intrinsically limit her ability to nurture her children.
When Bridget was able to bring this dilemma to her consciousness and do some simple practices that allowed her to change her relationship to it, she began to realize that the only way that she could be there for her children and her loved ones was if she followed her soul’s longings. It wasn’t one or the other.
Yet we were still left with this mystifying symptom. Again, in using our diagnostic system, we
were able to uncover something that I anticipated might be very difficult for Bridget to accept - that this “maddening” sensation was related to a ghost(s) and that these ghost(s) were in some way draining her energy.
As we started to discuss this, Bridget had a different reaction than I anticipated, “This makes
total sense to me, as last week I had a very strange idea. It came to me that this uncomfortable sensation was caused by a ghost, which I picked up during surgery. This seemed so outrageous to me that I didn’t bother to tell you, and, in fact, it had almost slipped my mind.”
As Bridget began to focus on the noose-like feeling in her neck, she became aware of a
community of little ghost children who were saying that they wanted their mommies, that she was like their mommies and that they wanted to stay with her and not leave. In this moment, Bridget realized that the feeling was focused in her neck because it was the place of her greatest vulnerability and that these ghost children were hanging on to her neck for dear life.
At this time it became apparent how the physical symptom, the ghost, and the no-win situation were all really one difficulty. Her susceptibility to the “ghost(s),” and her inability to let go of them, and the bind she felt in relation to her children mirrored each other, and this very awareness was the necessary step to be able to release the ghost(s).
When we were able to explain to the ghost children that we understood that they missed their mommies and Bridget, with her new-found awareness, was able to both hold empathy for them and the boundary of her own position, we invited the ghosts’ energies to return to Source (the Divine, God, Unity Consciousness…). Bridget was able to release the ghost energy when she was able to tell them that while she had been glad to care for them by helping them feel safe, it was now time to go to a place where they would be even happier. Bridget reported, “During the story I could feel the children’s longing, pain and agitation, and when they left I felt a peaceful, calm quietness.”
Two years have passed since Bridget had this session. The sensation that was so agitating to her has never recurred. Regarding the sensation Bridget had this to say, “If I hadn’t experienced this firsthand, I would never have believed this. It is amazing to me that with just that one session, the terrible sensation has gone away. It was awful. I want to cry I feel so grateful.” She has also reported that her ambivalence about living has subsided and that she has accepted the need to listen to the call of her soul. She said it was startling to realize that as she accepted the need to listen to this calling, she became more available to her family in a heartfelt way. Bridget is passionately following her spiritual path; she is working for an organization that supports people in life transitions, and she has returned to school. She is content with life and is truly grateful for the bounty bestowed upon her.