I’ve not been well. Lots of anxiety triggered by publishing conversations had left me feeling brutally over-sensitive and emotionally frayed and once again reconsidering if publishing was something I still want. I’d hurt my neck (it felt similar to whiplash but without the inciting incident), and mornings were hard.
Wednesday, I could barely crawl out of bed. But I did. Mostly because it was the day of my beloved coworker’s goodbye party, and I was speaking at it.
I did NOT want to go to therapy that night, but of course I could tell I clearly needed it. I went.
We spent about a half hour discussing my week and then about a half hour doing bilateral stimulation during which I had to “play a movie in my head” of positive thoughts: “I’m a good writer and I’m learning to be better” was my first mantra. Every minute or so, my therapist would stop to ask me how things were going, how I was feeling, and to rank how TRUE that felt on a scale of 1 to 7. I started at a 2.
My mantra morphed over the time and with the help of my therapist. Eventually I quit thinking exclusively about publishing and writing and was telling myself positive things about how my friends and family see me. I watched my rating rise from a 2 to a 5 in the course of a half hour. And I MEANT IT. I was honestly considering myself and my feelings each time and my attitude truly improved.
By the end, I wasn’t really repeating a mantra, per se, but I had this memory from years ago. Bear with me. It’s going to sound weird. (Even I think so!)
It was years ago. I was at my summer camp as a counselor, and we were presented with this activity I REALLY didn’t want to do. In it, members of our coed team of campers for the week would one by one climb into a sled, just a plastic one like you could get for five bucks in the winter. Then the rest of the team would lift the sled (with the team member in it) above their heads while praying for the person.
If this sounds straight out of a cult handbook, I assure you it’s not. I also was not excited about it and didn’t want to take my turn. But I did.
And it was amazing.
I spent just a few minutes LITERALLY lifted up to God by people who were LITERALLY supporting me. It was like being in another stratosphere for a few minutes, reaching toward God, semi hearing the prayers of people below me but also feeling interestingly separate from them. It’s hard to explain. It was very special. I thought of that at EMDR while the bilateral stimulation device buzzed back and forth between my two fists. I started to relax.
When I left therapy, I got into my car, twisted in my seat to check behind me as I backed out, and thus realized . . . My neck didn’t hurt. I rolled my head around, checking. It really didn’t hurt. It had hurt just an hour before.
The next day, I managed multiple emails with my agent and a phone call with my editor with very minimal anxiety. Almost NONE. It was just thoughtful conversation between creative people working on a project, not a meltdown inducing panic session. I realized that is what publishing is like for most people. It was beautiful and almost entirely foreign to me, even after getting my book deal almost 2.5 years ago.
I’m not banking on it lasting, but I will take it for now. And I will keep pursuing EMDR. Whatever happened on Wednesday night, I was a different person walking into my therapist’s office than I was walking out.
I’m excited to work on my novel this weekend. That feels so good to say.