Black-Eyed Susan Reveals the Shadows of an Addictive Relationship


Editor’s note: This is an in-depth case narrative originally written by Marisa Raggio in Italian; this translated and edited version has been approved by her.

Low self-esteem, isolation and loneliness underlie compulsive behaviors

Relationship shadows emerge but are denied

Denial of the shadow aspects of the relationship due to fear of loneliness

Black-Eyed Susan begins to stimulate self-insight

The dysfunctional relationship begins to lose power

A new archetypal possibility emerges: unconditional love for self and others

Indications for all of the flower essences mentioned in this report can be found here.

This is a client case spanning two years time and is quite complex. The themes that emerged over the two years were many and it was not easy to prioritize them.

This is a partial overview of the case focusing only on the stage where I introduced Black-Eyed Susan that, in combination with other essences, helped the client make a significant breakthrough on her path to healing.

The client, Maia, is over 40 years old, has a good job and is financially privileged. She is a well-groomed and elegant woman, and has an excellent educational background, which makes it difficult during the interview to get to the heart of her problem. She began our first meeting by making small talk about aspects of her daily life interspersed with smiles and jokes. Only when it is about time to finish our appointment, do chinks appear in her facade where I could see her pain and discomfort.

Low self-esteem, isolation and loneliness underlie compulsive behaviors

Maia has intermittent and alternating episodes of compulsiveness with junk food, alcohol, and shopping—all of which obviously increase during times of stress. In the space of ten years she lost her parents. And despite having conflict, with her mother in particular, their presence had given her a sense of containment and reassurance.

When something went "wrong" she had such strong anxiety attacks resulting in physical symptoms that it prevented her from going to work. As that occurred especially during the weekends, she was judged at work as a chronic Monday absentee.

Among the first flowers used for several months were Agrimony, Sweet Chestnut, Echinacea, Cherry Plum, and Rock Rose. Low self-esteem, isolation, loneliness, and fear of not making it alone were the themes that had clearly emerged and which these essences addressed.

Illumine supported her on the weekends, which were often spent in absolute solitude in her beautiful home renovated with money beyond her actual means. She described herself at the time as a “spendthrift."

I had been about to introduce new flowers when suddenly Maia fell in love and, as often happens in these cases, her physical symptoms and compulsions disappeared, swept away by joy and sexuality. She still did not miss any of our appointments because although there was euphoria of the moment, she was well aware that her issues were not resolved, only set aside.

Relationship shadows emerge but are denied

It took a few months and a series of negative experiences with her partner—such as learning about the presence of a family abroad and a number of pressing financial difficulties—before she began to awaken to her discomfort. When the shadows of her relationship finally emerged, she felt so bad that she stayed "sick" in bed for a few days. When she got back on her feet however, she decided that all was well.

We worked on the subject of money, which she used to buy the respect and interest of people whom she wanted to keep close to her.

Chicory guided her to the awareness of having had similar manipulative dynamics in the past, but she struggled to have the same awareness regarding the relationship with her current partner.

Despite her shadows becoming more and more obvious, they were still an unspoken topic. She sometimes was very angry and disappointed by the partner, and also with me. It was difficult for her to admit the substantial amount of money she was spending on him.

Maia began to use what I called her self-preservation technique, something I had observed her utilize in a similar past situation. She employed her rational intelligence—an ability that she had learned from her father. It increasingly became clear to her that her lover was not a sincere person, and also the physical joy that characterized the beginning of their relationship no longer existed for Maia.

Pine helped her to be aware of how angry she was with him, and their time together became more and more an opportunity to fight, even though Maia was not able to openly express her anger at her partner because she feared his wrath.

For a long time she alternated between rage and rare moments of peace. With just a short "holiday" though, she would forget everything.

Denial of the shadow aspects of the relationship due to fear of loneliness

Maia realized that her dependence on her man replaced her other compulsions, but it was no less dangerous. She noted this, she said, but then immediately denied it.

As a therapist, it was not my task to destroy the man’s character, although I understood my tendency to dislike him immensely. I took note of that fact and I realized that he was not my opponent, but provided an opportunity for Maia to evolve.

Loneliness for Maia was one of her fundamental themes and disapproval of her relationships by the people around her tended to cause her to isolate even more, increasing her dependence on partners.

At first, I considered the use of Black Cohosh, but did not introduce it because I believed that it was a priority for Maia to realize that in this dynamic she was not only a "victim," but was also an active participant, even though her partner appeared to me to be charismatic and the dominant one. During sessions, Maia tended to complain a lot about the money for which he asked. However, it also was evident that she was using the financial inferiority of this man as power to maintain control and bind him to herself.

Black-Eyed Susan begins to stimulate self-insight

I decided that it was time to introduce Black-Eyed Susan and I combined it with some essences that I thought would ease its effect and reassure her: Rock Rose, to not become dismayed, and Centaury to enhance the perception of her dignity and power.

The introduction of Black-Eyed Susan was an important step on the path; I believed that she was able to deal with some aspects of her unpleasant shadow aspects. In this case, I believed that Rock Rose and Centaury performed a support function during a period that may have appeared frightening or particularly challenging. Maia had devoted a lifetime to building a self-image as a refined and delicate woman. Discovering the other aspects of her self could be dramatic in the moment, but also essential in order to continue to grow.

Rock Rose Centaury

The flower essence therapy dynamic is a gentle method of healing, which guides one toward change, allowing for one’s readiness at any particular moment. On an evolutionary path, there are challenges to overcome and the flowers force us to deal with our inner reality, while at the same time they offer comfort and protection.

We proceeded for a few months with little modification of the formula—Black-Eyed Susan, Centaury, sometimes replacing Rock Rose with Mimulus. Alternately, Maia experienced awareness and denial but then gained insight, as shown by her statement: “I always have extorted the benevolence of others by my seeming fragility.”

Despite that new awareness, and though she was not close with what I considered her ex, she still helped him financially in the management of practical matters. She explained that it was her way of helping him because she was always worried about his bad financial situation. This statement seemed discordant with respect to another she made a few minutes prior in which she expressed great anger towards him and referred to him as dishonest. The difference was, when she was in denial, immediately afterwards she could acknowledge it and her tendencies toward it.

The dysfunctional relationship begins to lose power

Maia was more self-possessed, and her ex was already losing a lot of power. Only occasionally did she fall for his pleas for help with logistical and practical problems. He would try to take advantage of her but it was less powerful.
When she resisted her old pattern of helping him, which resulted in moments of loneliness and stress, she resorted to old compulsive patterns, especially those related to eating disorders.

Her ex did not easily surrender her as his prey and started again with greater energy to try and restore his influence over Maia, making himself very useful supporting her in emergency situations. In exchange, he sought to involve her in his financially disastrous business. She realized it, but found it difficult to resist. I introduced Black Cohosh, continuing with Centaury, Heather, Cherry Plum, Chestnut Bud and Black-Eyed Susan.

Once that situation passed, she acknowledged feeling somewhat lost and empty, almost like a disoriented child. I gave her Milkweed and Angelica to reassure her.

Milkweed Angelica

A new archetypal possibility emerges: unconditional love for self and the Other

Shortly after, negative information about her ex abruptly surfaced, and Maia could no longer disregard it, as the repercussions were very severe. However, her shock, anger, sense of devastating loneliness and dark moments were overcome with speed and a new strength.

He continued to go after her, but she blocked all access, and proceeded with some difficulty to take great care of herself, her spirit and body.

The next formula didn’t include Black-Eyed Susan and Black Cohosh, but focused on the shortcomings that she recognized through self-awareness. She continued with Milkweed, also Centaury, Heather, and Chicory. It seemed time for Maia to work on the theme of unconditional love, and come out of the whirlpool of self-pity and dependence. Persephone, the daughter, was ready to sit on the throne of the Underworld; her journey into darkness had transformed from addicted girl to the queen of her darkness.

I believed a new archetypal possibility emerged: learning to take care of the Other, be it herself, a man, a friend or a pet, without asking anything in return. Maia agreed with me and was willing to continue her healing journey.

About Marisa Raggio

Marisa Raggio majored in cultural anthropology and today is a counselor and flower essence therapist. She also teaches courses in flower essence therapy at Unione Di Floriterapia, in Milan, Italy.

Marisa has attended many seminars in Italy and abroad, deepening her knowledge of flower essences and their uses.

Write to Marisa Raggio.



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