The Experiment: Day 112 ~ Joy Holds Every Emotion, And, A Whole New Kind Of Therapy…

I am just sitting here quietly. All morning I have been listening to the most beautiful, soothing music. I need this today.

All the things that I’ve written about the last few days are true. I am happier, more peaceful, calmer. I did have a very good, very different kind of therapy session yesterday and I planned to write about it today but I had to ask my therapist a question, something I needed to clarify about our process, and I e-mailed her but haven’t heard from her yet so I will write about it another day very soon.

This is a day when I am having to sit with how I feel, hold myself tenderly, and take gentle care. I am not sad, I am not depressed, I would say, perhaps, that I am feeling fully human. Some place inside myself I am feeling a quiet joy, and right next to that I feel wistful. It would be lovely to be so happy that you just felt like doing cartwheels across the lawn all the time, but it wouldn’t be possible, not for any of us. In the happiest people’s lives there are, sometimes, clouds floating gently overhead, shadows, and the thing is we just need to sit with the feelings, breathe, relax, let them be. They will continue to float on until they are out of sight, and the sky will be clear for a time, and then the clouds float over again. This is simply the way of the world. There are sunny days and cloudy days and when the clouds appear we must be very soft, very gentle, just be, don’t try to expend a lot of energy trying to make things better or different, simply sit with “all the feels” and let them drift on by. Observe them, release them, breathe.

Okay, I want to try to explain what happened in therapy because it was a profound thing to me. My therapist Helene does EMDR. We don’t always use it but often have and it is very helpful, it helps you process and release trauma. But yesterday I found out that there was another way to use it. It is normally referred to as “reprocessing,” but if it is done a different way, as I experienced yesterday, when I went in feeling so good I didn’t even know what to talk about, and she scanned my body and asked me over and over if I felt any kind of discomfort in my body and it was amazing but I said no, there just wasn’t, not a smidgen of depression, doubt, or fear. And so what she did — and she said this so much better than I am able to say this now, was to do the reverse of what we usually do when we are trying to let go of traumatic, difficult things, she did it much slower and this process was not meant to release things but to enhance and integrate more fully all of the positive things, all of the very new to me happy and joyous feelings. OH! Helene just wrote back to me! This will help so much. Here’s how she explained what we did yesterday…

“Using EMDR to enhance resources and future templating. Strengthen neural networks for positive growth. The slow speed helps your brain strengthen the positive vision of future vision.”

I can’t tell you how amazing and powerful this process is, and here’s the thing, I was first taken to a psychiatrist when I was 10 years old, the nuns made my mother take me because they knew something was terribly wrong but they didn’t know what. I was, at the time, being abused by 2 men, but they didn’t really talk about those things in therapy then. He had me do a bunch of tests, the Rorschach or “ink blot” test, and so on. The outcome was that he told my mother that I was a very sensitive child and I would “grow out of it.” I had no more therapy then, the abuse continued until I was 18 when I had a breakdown and started into therapy again, and I have been in and out but more IN than out to this day. BUT, the thing is, I have had a lifetime of therapy dealing with trauma, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and all the rest, I was never in my current state of greater ease, happiness, and joy. These emotions I am feeling now are so new to me it’s as though I don’t quite know what to do with them. I’m not used to them. I am, if you will, awkwardly happy, it’s nice but it doesn’t quite feel right because it has been something so foreign to me for my whole life.

Part of me has been waiting all along for the other shoe to drop, for this lovely interlude to be over and to return to the depressive state that I know so well. It’s as though while I didn’t like being depressed it’s all I knew, like an old, worn pair of shoes that were comfortable to slip on. Now, happy at last, I keep kind of looking over my shoulder imagining that depression is just behind me and will soon take over again. But, well, it’s just not happening. So when I have a day like this where I am not depressed, not sad, but, as I said, kind of wistful, I worry that depression is going to gain on me. But it hasn’t, it isn’t. What the new kind of EMDR is doing for me, as Helene said, “future templating, strengthening neural networks for positive growth,” is teaching me, for lack of a better way to put it, to get used to being happy, to trust it, to relax into it. It’s marvelous, but it’s kind of scary. Imagine having to be taught to trust being happy! That’s where I am now. It makes me fidget a bit to say that, but it’s what is true. It’s as though I have been slowly shedding my skin and this new skin feels funny. It is lovely and wonderful but it’s like having a new pair of shoes and having to break them in. I just have to move through the discomfort to come fully into this time of peace and ease. I love that way of expressing it, “peace and ease.” I think it far more accurately describes the state I’m in and the state I think we’d all like to be in than the word “Happy.” We can’t feel happy all the time but if we can be in a state of peace and ease we will be in, I believe, the best possible place, a lovely place, a place of greater equanimity.

Happiness is, if you will, a new learning curve for me, it is a whole new frontier to explore. I have set out in my covered wagon and I am finding my way across the wide open plain in the new land. It is amazing, a little scary, and wonderful. And to come to this after the lifetime I’ve had is so remarkable I am in awe, and grateful, and I am smiling to myself now. Who’d have thought this was possible? Not me!

Believe. Believe that things are possible for you that you never imagined. Believe that things can be better than they are if they have long been very hard. Know that this is possible. Trust me, if I can come to this place, anyone can, but you have to do the work, and there’s a lot to be done. You have to care about yourself enough to do what you need to do no matter how hard it is, no matter how long it takes. The exact right quote to explain all of this is by the poet Mary Oliver from her poem “The Summer Day,” and I think this might be my favorite quote of all time…

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

My one wild and precious life, and oh, yes, our lives are so precious, can we treat them as such?, is all about becoming the best I can be and then working to maintain it. That’s exactly what I am doing now, I am tending my one wild and precious life, I am treating it as sacred, I am doing everything I can to serve and honor it, and it’s what I plan to do for the rest of my days. What will you do with your one wild and precious life? I’d really like to know. Will you tell me in the comments below? Honor your sacred self, don’t wait another moment…


The Experiment ~A 365 Day Search For Truth, Beauty &
Happiness: Day 1 ~ Introduction To The Project
“Do or do not. There is no try.”