Like mint and lemon balm

02 Aug 2011

Burying your hurts and your pain  may once have been the best way you had of dealing with them.

If you knew, from bitter experience, that you were not going to get your needs met, and your hurts acknowledged, what else could you do?

Unfortunately,“Feelings buried alive never die” as Karol K Truman rightly observes in the book of the same name.  Nor do the hurts that we bury alive ever die.  Rather, they enjoy a long and vigorous life.

Have you ever been unwise enough to plant mint, or worse still, lemon balm in your garden?  I have, to my cost.  In both cases I started with a 75 cent pot.  That first year, my association with both herbs was happy enough.  They plants thrived, and I felt pleased with my efforts.

In the years that followed my association with those two little plants became increasingly conflicted.

They proved far hardier than I would ever have imagined.  They survived dry summers and icy winters.  And they proliferated.  My garden, at the time was 100 ft long; both plants soon extended their reach – or, more precisely, their stranglehold – from one end to the other.

At some point, the wasband and I had the garden landscaped.  Once the flower beds were completely dug up, turned over, and replanted, the mint gave up the ghost. The lemon balm disappeared from view.

We concreted over the area where once the lemon balm had grown, and built an extension on the side of the house.  To my amazement, the lemon balm forced its way up through the concrete, and emerged from the corners of the extension!

I learnt that you don’t plant lemon balm lightly.  (It is, however, a present you might just think of giving to your worst enemy; a present that that will just keep on growing, and overrunning their garden.)

But let’s come back to you.

Each time you ignore, or silence, your own feelings of rejection, injustice, or ill treatment, you  plant “emotional mint, and lemon balm”.  You may be able to cover them over with the dirt of denial, but underground, in your psyche, the roots spread, and the plants proliferate.

Your partner launches an emotional assault on ridiculous grounds, such as, the look on your face, the tone of your voice, or your attitude to name but a few.  (Although others might include your inability to guess what he hadn’t bothered to tell you, or an innocent mistake you made.)  He overreacts as massively as he feels is his right and privilege.  He trumpets your crimes and misdemeanors to the four walls, until he finally tires of the sound of his own shriek…

And you?  What do you do?

In the interests of holding the relationship together, you deny, minimize, and excuse what happened.

You  know it was wrong.

But you’ll never get him to acknowledge it.

And so you bury it within your psyche.

And there, like mint and lemon balm, its roots spread, and spread, and the satellite plants extend their reach into all areas of your life.

That’s one reason why you – and I – ended up in thrall to non-specific anxiety, paralysed by a vague, but oppressive sense of foreboding.  The experiences that you have tried to bury alive overrun the fertile soil of your mind.

You come to see your partner’s criticisms as universal criticisms, when they are no such thing; they are simply his cruel projections that have spread all over your mind.

You come to believe that any attempt on your part to pursue something that matters to you will result in life-annihilating catastrophe.  In fact, that only happens around an abuser who is invested in keeping you paralyzed.

The non-specific anxiety and sense of catastrophic foreboding that have been programmed into you, are intended to paralyse you.  That programming is so effective that you live in fear of worse happening if you leave the person who has made your life a living hell.

Is it true that worse will happen without the ‘protection’ of your abusive partner?


But that’s what the “emotional mint and lemon balm” leads you to believe.  Without him, you think, you would be completely submerged by those invasive herbs.  Whereas, in reality, the seeds, and shoots, all originated with him.

Do you have to have that “emotional mint and lemon balm” in your life?

Absolutely not.   Believe it or not, we actually have far greater control of “emotional mint and lemon balm” than we do of the culinary herbs.

A woman wrote to me recently to say she believed the answer to the trauma of abuse was to ingest amino acids – she did not say which amino acids.

It is an improbable solution.

Trauma can be healed.  Trauma occurs at the emotional level.  It can – and must – be healed at the emotional level.  Part of that healing involves replacing that old non-specific anxiety with a clear sense of who you truly are, and your own power and resources.

Because you don’t feel powerful now, that doesn’t mean you aren’t powerful.

It simply means the person you really are is being overrun and stifled by the mint and lemon balm of non-specific anxiety.

I never did solve the mint and lemon balm problem in that garden.  (I never felt I had to.  It was a problem I didn’t need to make my own.) Instead, I sold the house, and left all that to the next inhabitant.

But I have solved the problem of “emotional mint and lemon balm” in my own life. I‘ve done it for many, many other women, besides.  In every case, they were amazed to discover how they could make a swift, painless, durable mental shift from powerlessness to confidence in their own ability to face what Life may throw at them.

As Brian Tracy says: “The very best proof that something can be done is that someone else has already done it.”

If you’d like help in clearing the “emotional mint and lemon balm” from your life, I really can help you.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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