The Stubborn Abscess: If you're hysterical, it's historical

The Stubborn Abscess: If you're hysterical, it's historical

Another concept as promised. I had known this concept since early in my spiritual journey and practiced it more and more frequently over the years. That’s how change often works. We learn to trust in a new way of thinking one experience at a time. 

If you are a client, you may have heard me tell this story before. Writing about it helps me go deeper into understanding. Stories make great teachers. Not always, but often it is in our darkest moments that we find the brightest light and emerge humbled. 

Here’s the concept: when emotionally triggered 10-20% of what we feel is from the current situation and the other 80-90% is old stuff that gets stirred up along with it. It’s easy to blame 100% of what we feel on a current circumstance, but it will never make you happy. Your ego might feel better, but never your heart. Another way I've heard it said is, “If it's hysterical, it’s historical.” When emotions are triggered it’s revealing a wound—something from your history is calling to be revisited. 

The Stubborn Abscess

Our dog, Theo, developed an abscess between his right ear and eye. It started subtly—he wasn’t yawning like he normally does. He’s not always yawning so his awkwardness would drift in and out of my conscious awareness. But when I gave him his favorite crunchy treat and he proceeded to place it on the floor, backing away with sad eyes, I knew we needed to see the vet. 

After examining his jaw, mouth and teeth (as thoroughly as he would allow), our vet decided that a course of antibiotics would be the best first step, and hopefully the cure. Because she couldn’t find anything obvious, she would have to sedate him to examine him further.

Following a couple doses of the meds he was back to his yawning and crunchy-treat-eating self. Unfortunately, a few days following the completion of antibiotics his symptoms returned. 

When sedated the abscess was discovered. If you’ve ever had to deal with an abscess, you know that once lanced you have to keep it open and draining with warm compresses in addition to a course of antibiotics. 

This abscess was stubborn and kept coming back. 6 weeks in, and 2 procedures later, a more aggressive procedure was scheduled. 

I was still applying warm compresses a couple days before the procedure, even though the abscess had healed over again. I was hoping for a miracle so as to avoid this third, more aggressive and invasive procedure—a procedure I was dreading. I thought to use a compress with activated charcoal. I heard that it could be used to draw out toxins from a bug bite. It was no longer an open wound so I figured I had nothing to lose. As I held my little 7 1/2lb pup over the bathroom sink, black water dripping down the back of my forearm, staining the porcelain, I emphatically expressed to my reflection in the mirror, “I am done traumatizing my dog.” 

My feelings of fear, frustration and powerlessness that had been brewing, erupted. Next thing I knew Theo’s abscess came to a head and erupted as well. The synchronicity felt miraculous. 

Later on, I found myself revisiting my choice of words with curiosity and interest. I was afraid that if Theo was traumatized that he’d associate it with me and fear being around me. That would be horrible for me; for us both, actually. 

Speaking of horrible, the following morning the memory of my mother taking me to Mass Eye and Ear emergency room when I was 11-years-old because I had complained of feeling dizzy bubbled up. I hadn’t thought about that experience in years. I had made a big decision on that day. 

My parents had recently purchased a cottage on a lake. I had been swimming, boating and in the sun all weekend. On our drive home I had confided to my parents that it felt like everything was still rocking like it had been while I was in the boat. Looking back, I was probably just dehydrated, but my mother freaked out when I still felt that way the following morning so she took me into Boston where I was traumatized by the bloody emergencies I witnessed over the course of waiting for hours in that emergency room. 

A memory of feeling feverish when at the cottage in my 20’s bubbled up as well. I remember my mother asking the glassy-eyed me if I felt alright, me defensively denying feeling unwell, and her frustrated response regarding how I wouldn’t admit it if I did. 

My mother was right. I stopped feeling safe with her on that day at Mass Eye and Ear and took matters into my own hands to protect myself moving forward. Eventually, after a lot of pestering and pleading, my mother had given in and took me home. I never did see a doctor but I did make a decision on that day to never tell my mother I didn’t feel well, ever again, and I had stuck to it. 

The emotions I had spent all these years protecting myself from feeling again were surfacing with Theo. My own abscess had been revealed. Reminds me of Morris Venden's words, "A crisis won't change you, it will reveal you. And then you can change."

I was being presented with an opportunity to flush out this old wound with love, understanding, and forgiveness. I was now in a position where I could revisit this situation through both my mother’s eyes and mine with emotional maturity. My mom had been worried about me because she loved me, like I was worried about Theo. Why was I worried? Why was I doing all I could to get him better? Because I love him and love how he loves me.

My guess was that she probably couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment for me and/or they had recommended this ER. I wish she was around to ask but what matters is that I felt traumatized, wasn’t mature enough to articulate it, and made a decision to pull away from my mother for my own perceived safety moving forward. Now here I was, afraid of losing Theo’s love by having him be traumatized and pull away as I had.

Fascinating stuff! In meditation I was able to have compassion for and forgive my mom in a way that I couldn’t at 11. I was able to give my inner child the long overdue hug and validation she had been seeking—letting her know: I see you, I hear you, I love you. Wow! I can’t imagine what that was like for my mom. I put up a wall. In putting up that wall I also cut myself off from her love.

My mom had been worried about me because she loved me, while I was feeling like she had dragged me into a lion’s den. No one was emotionally mature enough to talk about it. And if my mom had called my pediatrician first and not told him the backstory of my weekend with parents who were new to lake life, he could have thought we were dealing with something far more serious than dehydration. You know what they say about assuming.

Once my proverbial abscess was drained Theo’s also looked better. I took him for his procedure the following day and the vet said, “It looks better. I’m not going to do the procedure. Keep doing what you’re doing.” Ah… okay… meditation and activated charcoal. 

The next day the abscess was gone. So was it the activated charcoal? My revelation and forgiveness? Both? Some things we’ll never know, but because of this experience I’m convinced that “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical,” and I won’t be leaving that stone unturned in the future. I wouldn't be surprised if Theo instinctively trusts me even more because of how I handled this, as well. I know I do. It was never his job to heal my history, nor mine to heal my mom's. Sorry for my temporary insanity, Theo.

Friends in this Love,




  1. Jeanne Bohen says:

    Love this story Trish and the “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical”, is a terrific benchmark to keep perspective!

    1. Trish Whynot says:

      Thanks Jeannie and thanks for sharing your take away. Such a terrific benchmark!

  2. Michele Poulin says:

    Trish, another profound and teachable story .. I agree, so many emotions and feelings & rise to the surface when we are facing unknown situation's .. thank you for sharing

    1. Trish Whynot says:

      Thank you Michele! So so true that "so many emotions and feelings rise to the surface when we are facing unknown situation's." Thank you for adding this valuable insight and for taking the time to comment!

  3. Nancy Badger says:

    So good! I love your sharings Trish. I especially adore stories like this that show how we create opportunities to co-create with others (in this case, Theo) opportunities for our "stories" our "history" to be released from our cellular memory. I've learned when we allow our wounds to surface and be seen, acknowledged, worked through, appreciated and let go of consciously and lovingly, our inner light glows more and shines brighter on our spiritual path towards our ascension and our own souls enlightenment. Thank you for sharing your stories and beautiful photos with all of us. Many blessings

    1. Trish Whynot says:

      Thank you Nancy! I'm so glad to hear that. I appreciate your sharing about our light and completely agree!

      For anyone who's wondering, all the question marks at the end are a heart, prayer hands and light! Not sure why they don't show up here but I wanted you to know that I saw them, Nancy.

      Thank you for making the time to comment!

      Keep on shining brightly!


  4. Amber says:

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Trish Whynot says:

      You are most welcome, Amber. Thank you for commenting!

  5. Diana says:

    Good one Trish! I have a great example of that. My older brother took some liberties with his baby sister many years ago and we were going through life as if that hadn’t happened. I always avoided him and his annoying conversation. He lives in TX. He is now a Texan. He’d call occasionally and I always felt trapped listening to him go on without ever checking to see if I had any interest in the topic- narcissist I imagine. Then MeToo happened. Trump happened. He called me and went on about how the US is a Christian country. I LOST IT. My husband was shocked to hear me screaming obscenities into the phone. My brother’s response was all about my language which made me scream all the more. I can’t deal with him. Yes, he is a nice person blah blah blah. I wish him well but it’s now crystal clear to me that he needed to GTFO of my life for good. I wrote him a detailed letter that required a lot of gut wrenching from me. He called and when I saw his name I sent it to voicemail. The message was about the moon and how we both see the same one or some nonsense. Zero reference to my letter. In my letter I had asked him politely to never contact me again. Unreal. So I blocked him. I’m sure his folk all think it’s political and that fine with me as long as I don’t have to have anything to do with him again. He sure doesn’t want me telling his wife. Yes, hysterical sure was historical. I’ll take this new phrase with me and try it on for even small annoyances. Thanks for your always brilliant insight.

    1. Trish Whynot says:

      I see you. I hear you. I love you, Diana.

      No one who feels good about themselves does any of that. To set yourself free I hope you can forgive him for his ignorance, arrogance and woundedness. Karma will humble him at some point. Maybe not in this lifetime. Jury's out.

      Thank you for commenting.

      Sending love,



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