For most of my adult life I have tried to practice meditation and have never been successful. You know those instructions - just concentrate on your breathing - in, out, in out - and if other thoughts enter your mind, just acknowledge them and let them go. My problem is always that when the errant thoughts enter, I can’t just let them go. Or I think too much about letting them go. Or I get so frustrated with myself, then all these other thoughts creep in, and well, by now my meditation time is up, my head is filled with a thousand other thoughts and I just feel like a failure.
A big part of my therapy goal was to be able to talk/think about Daphne without my thoughts immediately going to the nightmare memories. And so I started with writing about some of my memories, which was incredibly difficult to do. It actually took me weeks because whatever I wrote sent me ricocheting through hours of horror. But with each thing I wrote, it got easier. (easier being a relative term.) Then my therapist asked me to read it out loud. Another thing I had a huge problem with. But I did it. And through that we discovered that some things were much easier to talk about than others.
Monday found me sitting once again in therapist’s office. Extremely tired from being sick these last couple of weeks, I began the session by begging for mercy -
Me: Let’s do something easy today, I am so friggin tired . . .
Therapist: Best time to poke around, when the censors are asleep . . .
Me: Seriously, I’ll pay you the $150 just to lay down and take a nap . . .
Therapist: Tempting . . . but no.
And so we explored why some things were easier to talk about than others. Memories of things Daphne and I did in a group, with friends, are much easier to talk about than things we experienced alone, or intimate things. Because, therapist tells me, memories that include people who are still in my life are keeping me more grounded in the here and now. And so she kept prompting me to talk about those things. And yes, I was often crying and bouncing back to the horrific. But then I noticed (okay, she pointed out) that I was bouncing, not getting stuck in. Well, that is a tangible and huge improvement. I am feeling like I am making some very good progress.
And then she gave me my homework - “choose one safe memory and think about only that. All the details I can think of - the sights, smells, sounds - but concentrate on that one memory. Try to stay grounded in that one memory. And when the other thoughts enter, just brush them away, let them go”
Oh no. I suck at this. Just like meditation.