Wednesday, March 25, 2020

It's Not a Silver Lining - It's a Revolution

I have an acupuncturist that doubles as a therapist.  Let me explain.  

Her appointments are approximately 90 minutes.  For the first 45 minutes, you talk to her.  Like a therapist.  For the second 45 minutes, you lie on a bed with needles all over your body, the location of which I presume is based on your conversation with her.  I'm not sure, because I've never asked.  
One of my closest friends had been seeing her for years, and had been trying to convince me to go, but I was hesitant.  I've done therapy, and I wasn't particularly in need of more at the time (little did I know).  And I'd much rather get a massage than lie on a bed with needles in me for 45+ minutes. To me, that just sounded boring.  

But it was one of my 2020 resolutions to try new things, and so I made an appointment.  The appointments take place in her home, in one of two rooms she has set up with two chairs, and then the bed for the acupuncture.  The first session was standard and not particularly noteworthy.  The first 45 minute "talk" session was slightly awkward, and I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to talk to her about.  I gave her a general overview of my life history, and when she asked why I was there, I was stumped.  I actually wasn't sure why I was there, or what it is I wanted to get out the whole thing.  I think I muttered something unauthentic and generic like "anxiety" and "trouble sleeping."  Which doesn't make me all that different than the rest of the population.  

She put the needles in and I laid there for 45 minutes and that was it.  I went on with my day.  And then something weird happened.  

I started getting anxious.  Super anxious.  And I hadn't even been anxious prior to the appointment! I had just said "anxiety" as a BS answer that seemed explanatory enough for why I showed up at this woman's home for therapy and acupuncture.  And over the next few days, it got worse.  This general feeling of unease and disorientation as to what the fuck was happening to me.  I would start crying at odd times.  My heart would start racing which was only exacerbated by the heart monitor on my Apple watch, which would actually provide evidence that it was doing just that.  And in a cruel twist of fate, I started having trouble sleeping.  Go figure.

By the time I ended up back in her home the following week for my second treatment, I was a blubbering mess.  A crying, blubbering mess.  The kind of cry where you are crying so hard you have to cover up your face with your hands because you're embarrassed about the ugly contortions your face is making.  

She didn't seem surprised.  Instead, she seemed pleased, and said something like:  This means the treatments are working.  Your heart is starting to open.  This is part of the process.  

I didn't take solace in that, and I couldn't even pinpoint what it was I was sobbing hysterically about. But in retrospect, I think I was just really scared.  Because something was shifting, or at least beginning to shift.  

She gave me a tissue to hold while I went through the second part of the session, the lying with the needles.  And I needed the tissue.  I cried for 45 minutes straight, by myself, on the heated table on the second floor of this stranger's home.  It sounds strange, but it was this weird, poignant moment. And it felt good.  Being in a room, by myself, lying down, and just letting the tears fall.  Even if I didn't know what they were about.  

After that I felt lighter.  Better.  Hopeful. The anxiety symptoms went away abruptly (though they would eventually return, intermittently).  I just felt at peace.  

This was in January, and I have gone back every week since.  

I don't know what it is this woman does, but it's something that taps into something deep.  I've had various groundbreaking revelations in my talks with her - more so than I've ever had with any therapist.  I'm not going to go into detail about those revelations at the moment, because I'm still processing them myself.  But suffice it to say that I always feel good after my appointments with her - ALWAYS. 

I think she came into my life at the exact perfect time.  I was ready.  

She isn't doing sessions at her house anymore, for obvious reasons coronavirus related.  And when the world basically shut down, not being able to see her was one of my biggest sources of sadness and disappointment.  I mean, how can you do acupuncture virtually?  

You can't, but you can talk virtually.  And since that was half of our time together anyway, I jumped at the chance to continue working with her doing phone appointments.  My first one was today.  

Suffice it to say, I feel lighter.  Better.  Hopeful.  

I was discussing with her some of the silver linings of this whole mess.  The fact that I'm spending more time outside.  That we are doing more family dinners together.  That I'm face timing people I haven't spoken to in years.  That I'm texting less and talking on the phone more.  That I'm feeling gratitude for small things - for pizza delivery and outdoor workouts and good music and the fact that my kids still like to cuddle with me.  That yesterday, while driving home from an outdoor workout, I had an overwhelming urge to write on this blog again and did just that.  

She listened to me for a while, and then she said:  It's not a silver lining - it's a revolution.  

What an absolutely perfect thing to say.  And how true.  

I truly believe that the ramifications of this weird world we are living in - this scary reality - will be long lasting.  And maybe they will be good ones.  Having your world turned upside down, and having everyone you know have a similar experience, changes you, and will change the way we operate.  Why do I text friends instead of talking on the phone?  Why don't I always schedule a couple of hours a day to enjoy the fresh air?  Why am I so afraid to reach out to people I haven't talked to in a while?  Why don't we do more family movie nights?  Why didn't I ever hike the Billy Goat trail, when it's only a couple of miles from my house?  Why don't we always eat dinner on our back deck, just the five of us, when it's nice out?  Why did I find the idea of spending just one entire day at home, without leaving, such an awful prospect? 

I, like many of us, have largely been "fed from the outside" (her words) in order to find contentment and satisfaction.  I thrived on being busy.  On going out.  On being out.  On consuming.  What do we do when that outside has been taken away? 

That is all of our challenge, I think.  And it truly is a revolution.  

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  1. I always liked to read your blog, but it seemed to end abruptly when you were so angry and disappointed after the last presidential election. Always interesting. Stay well, you and the guys. Bissous, Eric

  2. I completely forgot about your blog! It seems like ancient history but I was an avid reader of it, back when I was an associate without kids. Or maybe even back when I was in law school. I don’t even know. But I got an email alert that you’re back! Brilliant! Can’t wait! Hang in there!


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