Story time

Joey Garcia

I was severely abused by my parents as a child. Therapy helped me to recover, and my spiritual practice taught me to forgive. With effort, I have developed a cordial relationship [with them]. My parents have changed a lot, too, but I am still afraid to open to the affection that they try to show me now. I am defensive and fear their criticism, which, in childhood, inevitably lead to terrible beatings. Why can’t I get past this and be open to the love they are offering me now?

You fear the past so intensely that it feels impossible to ignore what has happened and to focus on the sweetness that is possible now instead. There is a wonderful Zen Buddhist story that can help. It is retold by theologian and storyteller Megan McKenna in her book, The Hour of the Tiger: Facing our Fears: “Once upon a time a man was crossing a field and noticed that a tiger was following him. The man began to run, with the tiger pacing him from behind. He was weakening, but the tiger kept steady. He was sure he could feel the tiger’s breath on his neck. His fear gave him a rush and helped him keep running. Suddenly he realized he’d reached the end of the field—and the edge of a cliff. He turned to face the tiger, which was staring at him. He turned back towards the cliff edge and noticed a strong vine rooted in the ground. Instinctively he lunged, grabbed hold of the vine and began to lower himself down the side of the cliff. The tiger came to the edge and watched him, roaring. The man was grateful that the vine was holding his weight. But then he looked down and shook with fear. Below him was another tiger, looking up at him, pacing back and forth and waiting for him to fall. He tried to calm himself. He dug toeholds in the cliff face and decided to try to out-wait both tigers. Then he heard a scratching sound close to his face and dust began falling into his eyes—a couple of mice were gnawing away on his vine! The man’s terror returned. Just then he noticed within arm’s reach a huge deep-red strawberry, ripe and luscious. He reached out, took it in his fingers and ate it slowly, tasting its sweetness and tartness, licking the juice from his fingers. It was the sweetest taste of his whole life.”

If our senses and intuition are not keyed to the moment, love may be small and easy to miss. You need the courage to release childhood wishes for a different mommy and daddy and to release childhood fears that the abuse was your fault. It wasn’t. Choosing love means you will now enter an adult relationship with your parents. Happy Rebirth Day!

Why do I keep attracting married men or those with girlfriends? Do I have some kind of sign on my forehead that only cheaters can see?

Let me enchant you with another story from Megan McKenna’s book: “Once upon a time a woman was being chased by a tiger. She was exhausted and could run no more. She stopped and turned on the tiger, crying, ‘Why don’t you leave me alone?’ The tiger replied, ‘Why don’t you stop being so appetizing?’”

I have seen women who make mournful claims (like yours) sidle up to the husbands of their friends while intoxicated (can someone in the house say “playa”?). So the lesson for you is to investigate whether you have good boundaries with men who are partnered. I bet not. More likely, you’re meeting unavailable men because the universe wants you to see how it feels to be betrayed so that you stop betraying your gender.

Meditation of the week
Last weekend, I saw the musical Wicked and am still moved by the song “For Good” that the Wicked Witch of the West and the good witch sing to each other: “You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart. / Now whatever way our stories end, I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend.” Whose handprint is on your heart? Isn’t it time you thank them again?

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.