Just a couple of observations about my life in general, and some of the interesting stuff I’ve seen and heard over the last few days.
First, shame on me for turning off the Super Bowl at the start of halftime — I guess the game got interesting thereafter. The first half, and the commercials during the first half, were pathetic — I didn’t think the commercials could get worse than 2012, but I was wrong.
I opened yesterday’s Daily Post email to see their topic — Think global, act local. Now, I know a lot of organizations dumb themselves down to reach their intended audience, but surely a challenge from a blog-hosting website can either a.) Hire a writer who knows parts of speech; or b.) Hire an editor with the same skill. What’s up, WordPress? This is something I’d expect from less literary websites, like Yahoo and Twitter, not from you guys.
By far the most interesting event of which I was a part was my appointment with my psychologist today. He told me last week that we would be starting our process of working with light and color. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but by yesterday at 11:30AM, I felt ready to try it out. I am so glad I did.
First, the process, and then the explanation.
The doctor gave me a set of goggles with black discs with knobs covering the lenses. He asked me to get comfortable, and then told me to close my eyes. I could feel him adjusting the plates over my eyes, and then he told me to open them. All I could see was a thin strip of light coming from the 3 o’clock position — to my right. He told me to identify any physical reaction that rose up in me, (a vague emptiness in my chest,) and then to try to remember a time when I felt that same emotion, and tell him about it.
So I sat, and I thought, and a memory came sweeping in on me: I was young, around six or seven, and I decided to walk home alone from (I think) a Brownie meeting, or something like that. Home was a long ways away, and I don’t remember why I said I could do that, but of course, once I said it, I couldn’t take it back. Eventually Dad came by and picked me up in the station wagon. But instead of taking me home, he took me to the Base Exchange, where I bought Mom a pair of earrings. Even at that young age, I hoped the gift would diffuse her anger at me for saying I could walk home. I don’t think it did, but she still keeps those blue earrings in her jewelry box, now, forty-six years later.
This memory came over me in a split second, and I burst into tears. I remembered only that I was scared to go home, because I had seriously screwed up, and would have to face those emotional consequences. I cried, I would say inconsolably, for a couple of minutes, and then the doc told me to close my eyes, and the weirdest thing happened. I didn’t feel sad or scared when my eyes were shut, though I had been sobbing just a couple of seconds earlier.
The doc repeated the process, with the sliver of light coming in at six o’clock, and I had a much more physical reaction to the light — I could feel my skin warm all over, almost instantly. And when I searched my memory, I flashed again, only this time I was happy. I saw myself, an 8-year-old girl, swimming in the Aegean off the west coast of Turkey. The water was teal and turquoise, and clear as it could be, and I could see the fish, and the anemones, and the shells and stones on the sand below where I swam. I was just as overwhelmed, but this time I felt incredible happiness — peace and beauty and adventure and fun, all rolled into that one lovely memory.
We repeated this a couple of times, at 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock positions, and I had similar reactions, but with very different memories. Then the doc brought the light back to six, where I’d obviously felt so good. He told me to fix in my mind the position of the light, and the positive feelings, and then he told me he was going to move the light back to 3 o’clock, where I had reacted so negatively, but he didn’t want me to look at the new light position. Rather, he wanted me to remember the way the six o’clock light looked and felt, and see what I felt this time. We did this four or five times, and each time got a little easier — at first, I was hyperventilating and biting my lip; by the last time, I managed a little smile. He explained that we had just rerouted one of my emotional memory paths, and that I could do this with other bad or sad feelings, as well. I was flat-out amazed at the difference between the first and last time — from bursting into tears to feeling so much less frightened and self-conscious.
Next week, we start the same process with colors — the doc explained that we hold different memories at different electromagnetic wavelengths in our mind — wavelengths which correspond to colors. I am more than anxious to try this — I feel like I am learning an entirely new set of tools for processing emotions.
Quick explanation: When we have strong emotions, they form pathways through the amygdala, the area of the brain which handles emotional memories. Those first strong pathways become solid, and whenever we have similar feelings, our emotions travel right down the same pathways, and we have similar responses. The trick is to change those pathways, as I explained above. This is only the bare bones of an explanation, as I need to talk further with the doc about the physical process. But I am a believer!
A few this-es and thats — but at least this last will get me thinking and feeling in new ways about old, old stuff. This is information too important to keep to myself. More thorough explanations, and references, will come soon.