• Thea Iberall

Wounds into Wisdom


I was eating dinner at a Thai restaurant with three members of a wiccan coven. I had recently broken up with the woman I was dating. She was a writer like me and we had written hundreds of pages of letters and journals. It had been exhilarating to be part of an amazing exploration of thoughts, feelings, and writing techniques. We even wrote a play together. She began teaching me about the unseen energy around us. And I started seeing colors, as if my aura was expanding. I started seeing blue which felt comfortable. So when she dumped me for being too negative, I was devastated.


I sat at the Thai dinner trying to regain some semblance of a life. I knew it wasn't going well. Everywhere I looked, I saw red, a dark red, blotches of red. After the dinner, we walked to the parking lot and noticed the full moon. The three wiccans wanted to say a prayer to the full moon and we all reached out to grasp hands. As they took hold of my hands, they jumped back and yelled. “Ouch!” One of them stared at me and said, “You have to let go of that anger. It’s going to kill you.” The feelings, the depression, the seeing of the red. I burst into tears and cried all the way home. I knew it was true. I just had never experienced the power of intuitive healers before.


Two days later, at 10 pm at night, we drove down to the Pacific Ocean to where there was a fire pit on the beach. I brought over 200 pages of our writings. I brought the gifts she had given me. The three wiccans built a fire and cast a circle around us and called the corners. They stood at three cardinal points. And I knelt at the East and slowly threw everything into the fire, one piece at a time. My tears were profound. I know it was all symbolic but with each page, I distanced myself from the pain and, with each tear, I let go. That relationship did not define me. My creativity was my own, I didn’t need validation from anyone. And I didn’t need anyone in my life who didn’t cherish me for who I am.


Emotional pain is hard. But adversity shapes us into who we are and who we will become. Pain causes us to grow and change, like the biblical passages about persecution and affliction state. As Oprah Winfrey says, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” I now know pain is a doorway that builds resilience. We don't succeed in spite of our challenges; we succeed because of them.


For me, much good came out of that pain. I wanted what she had and instead of staying a victim, I began a spiritual quest. That led to my becoming an energy worker where I use reiki, energy medicine, acupuncture, and touch for health in my daily living. I’ve never seen red since. The pain led me to writing a one-woman show where I explored my recovery from my broken heart. Through that play, I met Shirley. It is because of that pain I am here in this group.


There is a short poem at the end of my favorite musical The Fantasticks. The Narrator teaches the young couple a lesson about pain. He did it for the reason Oprah stated. Here is the poem:

There is a curious paradox that no one can explain.

Who understands the secret of the reaping of the grain?

Who understands why Spring is born out of Winter’s laboring pain,

or why we must all die a bit before we grow again?

I do not know the answer; I merely know it’s true.

I hurt them for that reason, and myself a little bit too.

- Tom Jones, The Fantasticks

Participants’ Reflections

  • Thank you for your writings, it deeply touched me. The power of energy healing in our Western society is so unrecognized. I am thankful when I experience it or hear of others experiencing it. I had the opportunity and the honor of my family members doing energy healing with me last night. It’s on such a cellular level because these pains and traumas imprint us. Your reading was so timely. I was thinking how my energy has expanded with so much love, and it’s an honor to be part of this group.

  • Thank you so very much for revealing what happened to you in that relationship breakup. I had a similar situation happen to me. For the time we were together, she told me how sensitive I was, too sensitive, just don’t think about it. I was thinking how your scientific mind and emotional mind are such a blessing. It does take an emotional upheaval and hurricane for us to get on the other side and to be that different person that the pain has cultivated. Looking at you, I’ve seen you understand the complexity of a rainbow and I’ve seen you understand the difficulty of being a human being woman. I appreciate who you are and your coming forth with your success story.

  • I love reflecting on the lessons from my stories. It’s important.

  • I want to make sure we make explicit Oprah’s words that wounds turn into wisdom. Because that’s what happens when I reflect on them. I am a huge believer in experiential education. And I can go through an experience and not learn a thing if I don’t reflect on it. By reflecting on it, that’s when the wounds can turn into wisdom. That’s how all of that happens.

  • Thank you for the reminder that pain is a growth opportunity. I’ve been sitting in something, like a puddle, like being in a dark paper bag trying to figure out how to get out of it. I recognize from the writing and the shares that I have this preconceived idea that just reflection, or having something happen and reflecting on it, is instantaneous, that it can happen in a quick moment. That sometimes things can throw me for such a loop and it is so deep, and the calling to reflect is so deep, it takes time. What I am going to do today is give myself permission to take all the time I need and be gentle with myself and to trust that once I go through this whatever I am being called to go through, that I’ll come out with growth, better than I went in, and this is purposeful. It’s not in my time, it is in God’s time.

  • I personally find writing really helps. It’s like a mirror on my mind, to reflect. Write letters I don’t send, write my feelings. I find it helps. Recovery from pain doesn’t happen overnight.

  • Thank you all for joining into this adventure today. Thank you for taking 15 minutes of your day for meditating in silence. Have a blessed day.


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