Zinnia came from a divorced family. Under the agreement, she was required to spend summers with her father who was an alcoholic. From the time she was little, given the slightest provocation when he got drunk he would slap her around
When she was about 10 she tried to tell her mother about it, but her mother said he was too powerful, and could go for full custody. As a teenager, Zinnia gravitated towards abusive boys, smoke lots of pot and played truant from school.
Zinnia’s grades weren’t good enough for college, but she was physically strong and for that reason decided to go to massage school. It was a natural fit. She easily found work after graduation.
She was a hit at the spa where she worked because she was so adept at sensing where people were feeling pain and helped them address it. This success kept her demons at bay.
Ordinarily politics is not a subject that naturally comes up when you go for a massage. But Zinnia was seeing a big change – people were coming in with more headaches than usual.
Trying to lift the mood of the people who came to her for relief was becoming increasingly difficult. She was resonating with the collective anxiety which had risen in response to widespread national political problems. During her quiet moments, the bad times she had experienced with her father were coming back to haunt her.
She had to fight the urge to quit her job and go back to the self-destructive habits she had when she was a teenager. Empowered by the trust her customers and employer had in her hard-earned ability to empathize while with her clients, Zinnia chose another path.
She took a vacation from media. She limited contact with draining friends and acquaintances and she gave free messages at a shelter for battered women.