Going into dark places
Much can and is said about how writing or talking about the darkest places can lead to healing. I have a habit of holding on to anger, fear, and all those unhealthy emotions, with the thought I can use them as some sort of shield that will protect me from future bad-stuff. Years ago I did have some success with a therapy method I call “blinking therapy.” It’s kind of a step-up from hypnosis, at the time it was a “new” concept used primarily for patients of PTSD.
The therapist moved a pencil back and forth within my line of vision.
He says a word, you say a word, he asks, you answer. For some reason, this takes you deeper into the places just chatting won’t take you. Somehow, you allow your mind to fall into the tunnel of your being and confess the event. Somehow, and this is the crazy-cool part, once this memory is dug from the depths of your own darkness, it is freed. You are freed from it. That specific dark bit doesn’t live inside of you anymore.
One particularly successful session involved the memories surrounding Marcus’ heart surgery. I walked back through the waves of emotion I barely let myself feel when all my greatest fears swirled over and around me, I could only see one step ahead of me and I rationed the oxygen to my lungs.
During the therapy session, inside the blinking treatment, I created my own ending. I took my son and walked out of the hospital before any hands could cut him. The burden flew away from me, like a balloon escaping from my grasp. All of the horror of witnessing my son taken into that cold room to be cut, soldered, stitched…it no longer haunted me. The memories still stir within, but they are memories to be witnessed not living emotion still pulsing under my skin.
Even with that victory, I soon stopped therapy. The parts of my past that slithered and hid in those dark places, I still couldn’t face poking them and luring them into the light.
Even the thought of letting them go, releasing them like balloons and being freed, was not enough to make me go into the darkness to face them.
Maybe in Candlelight…
Next Wed, October 16, at a Candlelight Vigil at the College of St. Mary’s, I am going to speak to a group of young women about Intimate Partner Violence. I am going to share with them some of the memories I couldn’t tell a therapist over 15 years ago.
Earlier this year I wrote that “Strength in silence is a lie.” I hope that my revealing a few dark places will empower these young women to create for each other a safer and well-lit path.