Lately I have become aware of a wall I have built around my heart. As a means of penetrating this wall Lyse, my therapist, suggests corporal therapy. I agree for I am the type of person who is always willing to jump into something new, especially if it has promises of self-growth. I am very self-centered in this way.
I lay on a very comfortable mattress in her second story office just down the street from my apartment. Lyse kneels behind me and gently holds my head with her hands. I am to stay still for forty minutes and simply be. She has made it clear to me that this is not meditation. I do not focus on my breath or a candle or any other sound. I am to observe what is happening inside.
In this session images of myself holding an ice pick appear. In my imagination or visualization, I suppose, I use the pick to break the hard cement crust around my heart. The wall is too strong. I must melt it instead so that I can reach inside my heart. After the forty minutes are up Lyse sits next to me on the mattress and I say, “I am so much in my head. I want to get in touch with my emotions. I want to feel again.”
“You need to slow down so that you’re more in contact with what is happening inside,” she says.
Later that afternoon as I am driving in my car I hear on the radio that today is International Go Slow Day. I have never before heard of such a day but why not? It fits in perfectly with my self-improvement and so I take the time to go to the cemetery to spruce up the family gravesite. The rose-bush which my sister, Diana planted last year is in magnificent bloom. The purple-blue petals on the hydrangea I planted are breathtakingly beautiful against the pink roses while the sky is cloudless. I water the plants as if I am pouring out of my heart all the unshed tears of mourning for my sister, my mother, my father -an oration from a space deep and raw inside of me. I know enough to know that if you don’t enter your pain it doesn’t go away. Here on the earth before my family’s grave site I crouch down, my head on my knees. My hand extends to fondle one of the roses. The petals are as soft as a ray of hope and yet the presence of loss surrounds me, inside and out. I feel both comforted and alone.
Footsteps of passers-by invite me to control my weeping. I do so but not completely. I am aware that I need witness to my grief. No man is an island.