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She screamed in agony, "I hate my life! I want to die! I want to kill myself!"

This was my final test. If I could be here with her through this, I could do anything!

I flashed back to what seemed like a lifetime ago, when I was in the mental hospital. Beads of sweat surfaced on my forehead. My inner cheerleader—what I think of as my higher self—chimed in by asking, What would you want your mom to do?

The answer came fast and clear. Just listen and love.

I vividly recalled the terror I had felt at her age when I was certain that I was going crazy. My compassionate tears flowed freely as I said, "What else?"

Her sobs intermingled with screams as her body contracted in spasms. Her movements reminded me of a three-year-old fully expressed in her body.

She cried for what seemed like an eternity, though in reality it lasted maybe 10 or 20 minutes.

I simply stayed in her eyes as I softly invited more. "What else?"

Gradually, her anger moved into what appeared to be sadness and grief.

At some point I said, "You are doing great."

She responded with a withering glare that I translated to mean, Don't patronize me!

I hoped that my off-track encouragement would not stop her release, and I remained totally present, allowing time for her emotional balloon to completely empty.

Then her breathing softened and she relaxed.

Instincts are particularly important in this part of the process and the mother in me knew that this was the moment to gently reach out. I took her hand in mine, and without interrupting the flow, I gracefully made my way over to a nearby chair and guided her into my lap.

She wrinkled her nose, which I was sure meant, Oh mom, I'm too old for that.

"Humor me," I whispered.

I had proven my safety. She allowed herself to fall into me, tucking her head into my shoulder as I began to gently rock her. For a few minutes, her crying increased, though it came from a more peaceful place. I was in no rush. Where else was there to go? What could be more important than this moment? I held her as we rocked.

Then, as if nothing had happened, she looked up with a giggle and said, "What's for dinner?"

In that moment, I knew she was complete. We had done it!
FROM: Obese Families in Crisis: The Intervention
Published on January 26, 2009

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