How Visual Healing Saved Me after Escaping Abuse

And the power of my own mind

Suzanna Quintana
Jan 24 · 10 min read
Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

In the last few years of my marriage, I was sick. Not your typical I-got-the-flu or ate-something-bad type of sick (though there was that too). But a constant feeling of nothing being right, like when you hear stories of people later being diagnosed with some awful disease after suffering from years of weird symptoms that make no sense when said out loud.

There was no logical reason as to why I shouldn’t have felt great. At the time, I was a practicing holistic health coach, a ballroom dancer and teacher, I ate well and maintained a healthy weight, and I exercised regularly. On the outside looking in, I was a picture of perfect health.

On the inside, however, the parts of my body that had once worked successfully together now seemed engaged in war — my organs failed in their normal duties, my head imploded from the pressure, while my heart concaved in response to the pain.

Because of the strain on my body, I got physically sick often, whether it was with the flu (stomach flu, swine flu, you name it I had it), bronchitis so severe I spent nights with a towel over my head inhaling boiling eucalyptus tea leaves, or even the common cold that seemed to stick around longer than it used to in the past.

The constant stomachaches, the bloating, the hot flashes and nausea and searing pain that ripped through my shoulder blades and across my back that made my fingers tingle and toes go numb, could not be explained. Doctor after doctor listened to my ailments and still came back to issue me a perfect bill of health. No remedy, no prescription. Just a rebuke of my presumed-to-be-invented symptoms by the very medical people I depended on to see my suffering as it really was.

It wasn’t until I forced my then-husband into counseling after uncovering his double life, which included him grooming young immigrant girls for his pleasure, that I first got an inkling as to the source of my physical pain. And it was upon hearing the words of the psychologist, who was an expert in his field and who told me, “Your husband is a narcissist,” could I begin to explain my overwhelming emotional pain as well.

What happened over the next few years was a gradual waking up from a nightmare when I didn’t even know I was sleeping. It was an unraveling of everything I’d known, a constant fog that I waited to lift as I sought the handles of doors that weren’t there. After suffering for over a year from debilitating stomachaches, unable to leave my home for an extended period of time, I struggled to find the energy to protect myself moving forward as the man I’d devoted my entire being to now saw me as an enemy. If anything, my physical pain only got worse while enduring a punishing divorce and then discovering he had been stalking and cyberstalking me for years after I left him.

It was then I realized that to survive this experience I needed to reach out for help once more — but this time not to western doctors who had previously failed to see beyond the apparent, beyond the medical tests that limited their answers (and their help) to what they learned in school.

I needed someone to see me. If a picture was worth a thousand words, then I needed someone to find the other 998 words to describe something other than my supposed “perfect health.”

And I needed to be taught how to help myself, not how to depend on pills and prescriptions and tests that were out of my control.

Because at that point of my physical and emotional pain, when I was told both by the psychologist who diagnosed my ex and a police sergeant who was investigating him that my life could possibly be in danger (this assessment based on my ex’s obsessive need for control and the devious methods he used to hack into every part of my life, even having me followed, during and after our divorce), the urgency of getting help had never been greater.

Though the two years after I left my marriage remain for the most part a blur due to having to endure criminal investigations, obtaining restraining orders, having my entire online life invaded while going through a divorce process with a narcissist who made it his mission to punish me, along with being diagnosed with Complex PTSD, anxiety, and suffering from panic attacks that kept me housebound for much of the time, there was one moment that still is as clear as if it happened yesterday.

The moment I reached out for help from a Pima medicine woman who was known for her medicinal massages.

This was also the moment that changed the course of my physical health once I learned to take back the power of my mind and body that I had previously surrendered to those I used to seek help from.

Now, don’t let the word “massage” fool you. This was no lay-on-the-table-put-your-face-in-the-hole-while-I-grind-my-fingers-into-your-body massage. In fact, the first forty minutes was spent talking. I told her about what was hurting, both emotionally and physically, while she gently pressed for more details and listened to the words that came out of my mouth. Having found someone to finally hear me, I shed more than a few tears in the telling of my marriage, my ex-husband, and the heartache that just wouldn’t go away.

Photo by Frankie K. on Unsplash

Her name was Belen. She was a traditional medicine woman who told me about her people, the Pima, who were descendants of the prehistoric Hohokam culture. With native flute music playing in the background and the smell of sweetgrass in the air, she shared her people’s beliefs that a woman’s power was in her center, her core — of course, all I heard was “stomach” and suddenly the lightbulb went on in my head as I realized the crux of my problem.

Belen then shared, “All the white women come to me with the same problem. You’ve given up your power. That is why the center of who you are is crying out. That is why you suffer so. That is why you came to me.”

She asked me to lay face-up on the warm table and close my eyes.

Though the details are hazy, I remember the burning sage that she wafted over the various energy exits and entrances to my body, pushing the poison out, allowing the light to drift in. She hovered over my belly for an extended length of time. I kept my eyes closed but I could hear her making sounds, whispers, in a language I couldn’t understand. Though she never put her hands directly on my skin, I felt them nonetheless. The energy exuded heat and power from her fingertips.

She was still talking to my stomach. And as if she had been reading my thoughts, she explained why she hovered.

Somehow, the visual of a nest of wasps in my stomach made all the sense in the world. I looked back on the previous years and how every pain I felt always began with my stomach, as if that were the control center of my being. Now I understood it had been taken over by angry wasps. I saw them stirring, pissed off at having been disturbed. Then I saw them leaving since their home was no longer hospitable.

Belen drew them out with the finesse and alchemy of a pied piper. And I visualized them leaving my exhausted and weakened stomach far behind.

Under her direction, I turned over so she could focus on my back. At this point, I was so deep into the smells of the room and the vibration of her palms over my body that it was easy to drift into another world where I suffered no pains of the present. Thus, the next half hour was a blur as Belen continued to move my energy through different points in my body while encouraging me to visualize the process in whatever form that naturally arose in my mind.

It was then I saw wild horses, hundreds of them, running across the plains, kicking up dust, reveling in their freedom. Herds that celebrated having been released, their manes flowing in the desert wind. They were clear in my mind. I could see every detail. Even smell them. Then I found myself riding one of them until, finally, I was among them running alongside.

My pain turning into power, I existed in a state of pure alchemy.

Photo by Gigi on Unsplash

When I left Belen’s presence that day, feeling as though I had stepped into a vortex that existed alongside time and space as I used to know it, I knew my life would be forever changed for the sole reason that I now knew the source of my power. And I would never release that for someone else to control again.

Feeling empowered after the experience, I decided to take my healing one step further and began attending a Buddhist temple where I learned the art of visual healing with light — an extension of the technique Belen had used with me. Focused as I was on learning how to heal myself, especially the physical ailments I still suffered from due to the heartbreak of having my life stolen from me without my consent, I was an excellent student and soon became my own expert on how to heal my body using the power of my mind.

In the past, I had believed myself helpless when it came to the thoughts swirling about in my head like a small tornado. I soon learned that my mind was the most powerful thing about me, whether it worked for or against me. If I neglected its power, if I ignored it or remained naively unaware of it, then chances were I ceded any control and handed over my autonomy just as I had to the abusive man I had married.

So I gave my mind the honor it deserved for housing the power it did and began using it to work in my favor.

Thus my journey into visual healing began. I learned how to use the power of light to combat the darkness of what made me sick inside. I harnessed the energy that Belen so magically disciplined and also synthesized the healing properties of light that my Buddhist teachings had revealed.

Where in the past I remained helpless to the suffering that swallowed me whole, today I can rid my body of a stomachache, a feeling of panic, or any one of numerous aches and pains simply by closing my eyes and visualizing my healing.

And it works. But only because I believe in it and have surrendered to the greater forces both within and without my physical being that reminds me of my own power.

I’ve become so good at it that often I don’t even have to close my eyes. I can be in the midst of a crowd or even talking directly to someone and still send warm rays of light to the places that might be hurting. And now that time has passed since those days of sickness and heartbreak — the toxic consequences of the physical effects due to emotional abuse — so too have the daily screams coming from my body.

Nowadays I rarely suffer from stomachaches. I no longer have to watch every bite that I eat in fear that it will be the bite to make me sick. The waves of nausea that used to follow me around like one of my little kids are gone. The panic and anxiety attacks slowly disintegrated with every powerful step I took forward.

But most importantly, the fear of how I will feel when I wake up, the dread of the oncoming day and not knowing if I’ll make it through, has been replaced by hope, joy, and the peace that comes with my own consciousness and awareness that no matter what happens I’ll be able to handle it.

And heal.

***

I created my own visual healing meditation to use and share with others. To listen, click on the link below.

***

Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram where I share more of my story of surviving and thriving after narcissistic abuse. To get a free copy of my book, “You’re Still That Girl: Get Over Your Abusive Ex for Good!” visit my website at www.suzannaquintana.com today!

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

Suzanna Quintana

Written by

Writer. Abuse Survivor. Narcissist Recovery Coach. Bestselling Author of “You’re Still That Girl: Get over Your Abusive Ex for Good!” www.suzannaquintana.com

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade