I don't have Sunday Stories right now because I am working really hard on final revisions for a book I wrote about a hundred years ago. For some reason, today I feel compelled to share this excerpt, which includes details of my first experience with Reiki, which now, fourteen years after writing this, I too offer to others.
What a ride this has been.....
NOT YET REVISED
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 13: Not Okay
It’s been a month and three weeks since that day my mom came to get me and I stayed on my parents’ couch for more than forty-eight hours, eating nothing, sleeping a lot and drinking small amounts from the things they set beside. I knew it would be easier if I just did that. If I just drank a little bit, it would be easier for all of us.
Then, on the third morning, I got off the couch close to noon and went to my bag of mismatched clothes and found nothing left to wear. There was nothing left and I just stood there, head bent, arms hanging, staring into the bag before numbly walking out of the bathroom and asking my mom to take me home. Just like that, I asked if she would take me home and she asked if I was sure and I wasn’t, but it just seemed too absurd to stay without having another change of clothes. Crying and sleeping and not eating for days was bad, but when you can’t even change your clothes anymore, something has to give. And so I went home.
For almost two months now I have continued to grieve, to ache for things I can hardly even name. It all seems to take up so much of my energy that I barely have the strength to eat and that worries me at times, but mostly it has offered an odd bit of relief, a pleasure that I know isn’t quite right, this getting smaller. There is something about that, about getting smaller. It feels somehow like a win, like I’m adding value by taking away my body. Not for the first time, I stop to think about this, to wonder at what it means and if its true. I stop to think.
Pretty girls. Nice houses.
Cherry Almond and Paddy and Guinness and My Big and more and more friends have been part of this grief, part of the joyful times that interrupt it too. I am really grateful for these women who have been helping me get over this man, these men, but maybe helping me get over more than that too. Maybe they are helping me get over myself as well.
Because maybe, if despite all my self-absorbed grief, they still want to be with me and I can still hear them and see them and love them, then maybe I’m more than I think I am.
Even as I revel in becoming less, smaller.
And so we go out a lot. We order layers of French toast for breakfast and drink too many margaritas in someone’s backyard. We wrap our hands around warm coffee, wrap our hearts around each other. They sit on my couch and I sit on theirs and when I run out of things to organize in my apartment I go to their homes and help redo their kitchens and their closets and we laugh and cry and heal and break and I see that it is not just me. They hurt too. And they too are trying to move on. And so we do it together.
Something more is happening too, something I never expected, that I didn’t even know existed.
I have found a healer. She was recommended by the doctor who gave me the medicine all those months ago, the one who thought maybe I needed more than that because so much sadness and holding on and fighting back does not make you well. Rather, it requires a kind of help I never knew to ask for until I found myself with a mixed bag of things, sleeping on my parents’ couch.
This healer uses a thing called Reiki, an energy therapy that I don’t fully understand yet, but that I know is something. It is taking hold of bits and pieces of the self-doubt and fear, the worry and sadness, burdens that seem to drive me, and it is moving them over to make room for other things. I don’t know exactly what it is making room for. It’s too soon to know anything other than that I can’t go on this way and the way I’m going on seems about a whole lot more than lost love and a cancelled wedding. It seems to be about something much deeper and scarier and harder to get over.
It seems to be about me.
So on the same day my mom brought me back to my apartment, having not showered for days, with a randomly packed bag of clothes and giving barely a fuck, I got out the number and picked up the phone because I guess I did give a fuck somewhere. Somewhere deep down I was interested in finding something that would really heal this pain, a pain that maybe did not need to be this bad.
I called her on a Wednesday and later that day I walked into her office. I had only mildly showered since Friday and was in some hybrid of pajamas and gym clothes, with unbrushed hair and no breakfast, getting smaller and smaller, but it was too late to care about any of that when I sat down across from her and she spoke.
“Would you like to tell me your story?” she asked gently and I answered right away. But not with my voice.
Instead, my reply came out in tears, a telling in salty water instead of heartfelt words, and as I cried she picked up the tissue box and slowly handed it across the low table between us. I took it. Like a drowning girl takes a raft I took it, and as I put a tissue to my nose she started talking to me about pain and fear and grief and how these things can live in your body and in your mind. They can live there, she said. And I didn’t know any of that.
But I did.
Yes, I told her. They are living in me, always have been, and I’m ashamed of that because nothing really that bad has ever happened. I should be better than this, I said, and she told me that it was not for me to judge and that if my pain was real then that was all that mattered.
“But it is also part of your journey to heal it,” she said. “You can heal.”
I wiped at my nose and eyes and she continued to talk about my power and my choices and her voice was soothing and genuine and something else too. It was knowing. She knew. I remember how I looked up at her then and I noticed. I noticed the gentlest smile and eyes that seemed to hold me in so much care. I noticed her open palms and her heart facing directly at me and both of her feet anchored firmly to the floor. I noticed the cool air of the room and the dim lights, the soft music and glowing candles. I noticed the scent of fresh laundry.
All of it wrapped me in a warmth that suddenly felt like so much peace and hope, and although slivers of glass from that broken windshield of my life were still poking through, I could feel a promise of something else. I could feel a promise.
When my tears subsided, she had me lie on my back on a tall massage-like table and she put a heavy blanket over me so that I became suddenly aware of my whole body, but not the way you do when you stand in the mirror to try on a pair of jeans. It was an awareness that felt like power, like here I am taking up this space and counting for something. I closed my eyes and she placed a small pillow over them. It seemed filled with little bits of oatmeal so that it took the shape of my eyes and my nose, my forehead. It smelled like lavender and something else too. Maybe ease.
She began moving around me, but I couldn’t hear her or feel her touch. I could just sense her. I could sense her presence around my entire body and I started to tingle, to come completely alive as slow tears dripped out from under the pillow filled with oatmeal, lavender and ease. A moment later I felt her near my head and then as slowly as anything has ever happened, so slowly, something was placed on me, something that seemed to wrap around my entire skull like a soft warm helmet. Then, within moments, it felt like a gentle magic was pulling out every fear I had as my head and face buzzed with an energy I’d never felt and I wondered what she had done to create such calm.
After some time the intensity of the sensation started to settle and all at once I realized what it was, what was on my head.
It was her hands. Her hands were on my head. That was all. And that was everything.
I’ve been going back every few days since then and feeling a little less sorrowful and fragile, a little less like I’m not enough and like I’m too much at the same time. Things are shifting in my body and my heart and my head, not profoundly at all, but just enough to notice and with the constant suggestion that if I am patient there will be more. I’m still not totally sure what this shift is getting rid of or what it is making room for, but I’m trying not to push and pull and struggle. I’m trying to simply let it happen because it seems like maybe it’s just me.
Maybe what it is getting rid of and making room for at the same time, is just me.