The War Is Within


By mid-week, my writing workshop in Guatemala had taken a turn. Despite the enchanting casita on a tranquil lake in the shade of three volcanoes, I could no longer write. True stories demand total vulnerability. Mine had fled.

Back home, when worries overwhelmed my creative voice, I cleared my head with yoga, the bright Miami sun, a long run. Here in this magnificent place, I couldn’t even meditate without sobbing midway through.

I had pre-booked a session that day with an energy healer who worked with crystals. Until then, I had avoided such things. I believed in the power of energy, but magic rocks were my mother’s territory. I viewed them as a New Age prop for those who wished to avoid the real work of therapy. After twenty years on Dr. Waddington’s couch where I rarely discussed my mother, I found myself here, among the crystals.


A woman with flowing gray hair sat at a small table, writing. Lining the walls of her small studio, stones of every color lay in intricate patterns.

“You need to feel your grief and allow yourself to cry,” she said, peering into my eyes over rectangular spectacles.

Not knowing how to respond, I sat down in the wrought iron chair across from her.

She was right, this total stranger. I had mourned, a little, but hadn’t cried—who had time for that? I came down here to revise my book.

“Are you grieving the loss of someone or something?” she asked.

I told her about my mom and sisters who no longer spoke to me. And the friend who had just announced she was so mad at me, she couldn’t read anything I wrote. The little girl in charge of my creativity had run away to hide. My writing was done for now.

“People who act like your mother will keep showing up until you resolve your relationship with her. Has this friend ever behaved like that before?”

“No,” I said.

“That’s your mother.”

It sounded both absurd and exactly right.

But I didn’t want my mother to take up any more of my mental space. She hadn’t been in my life in any real way since she left our family when I was twelve. The four of us kids received the rare phone call and had no regular visitation. I had longed for her to ask what might be bothering me as a kid growing up with no mom. But now I wanted to be done.

The healer invited me to lay on the table. I closed my eyes as she placed crystals at energy points along my body.

“You have to forgive her.”

I didn’t know what it meant to forgive anyone. It sounded impossible. I would not be doing anything hard for my mother.

“This is how you find comfort and peace. Nothing is out of your reach when you are inward, whole and revitalized.”

“How do I do it?”

“You have to write to her. Get it all out on paper. Then destroy it,” she said.

I lay on the table, composing a letter in my head.

Dear Mom, even when you lived with us, you barely looked at me. It made me feel unworthy of being seen. In every relationship, I feel like a temporary employee trying to prove myself. You judged me and now I do it too, pushing away the very people I want close. I always worried you would leave. That anxiety turned me into someone who tries to control everything. That drives people away too. Worst of all, you left me. Now, when things are hard, I fight the urge to leave too.

I burned the note.

I had not felt this shaken in decades. Until now, I hadn’t allowed the feelings to pass through me. I worked through issues intellectually, but didn’t waste time “processing emotions.” That was for sensitive people. It had served me well until now. I had hardened into petrified wood. I was ready to turn back into a live tree.

“It is time to gently cast away the attachments to your past and build the foundation of a new and beautiful journey. Today the doorway opens. You may pass if you are willing to look forward rather than back. You are striving to become who you already are. You are a Spiritual Warrior and your war is within. Let your life be transformed. Magic will happen.”

I rose from the table and purchased the two crystals that would assist in my healing. One to balance my overactive crown with my underactive root chakra. The other to turn chaos to order. I placed them in a pouch and secured them under my clothes, close to my heart. As I walked up the steep stairs to my tuk tuk, I detected a lightness in my chest. Maybe I could let go of her. I didn’t have to be part of her story any more. I could write my own.

I have learned that to forgive is to remove judgment—to allow others the dignity of their own journey. This makes space for acceptance. This is love. With a deep breath, I send the message to my body that it’s all going to be okay.



WRITING PROMPT: What do you do to let go?

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2 replies on “The War Is Within”

Sobbing is the process.
Sobbing is evidence that you’re doing the work.
Sobbing is evidence that the work is happening.
Sobbing is progress.
Sobbing is the meditation.

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