Sunday, November 25, 2007

exposure therapy

There's only one thing I can't talk about. Let's call this thing "the thing." I've managed to make it this far in life without ever talking about the thing with anyone. Sometimes conversations start, but I quickly leave the room, change the subject, or cover my ears and yell, "no, no, no, no, nooooooo." I've found that people tend to respect that.

Whatever, I decided that my story wouldn't be complete without the thing. It was a hard decision to make, but I've always respected writers who put incredibly painful human experiences in their writing. (The thing doesn't even come close to "painful" but, hey, everything's subjective, right?) I had a writing teacher who told our class that she can tell when a subject is painful for beginning writers, because that's when they begin summarizing.

Facing that stuff is what makes reading such a profound experience. I mean, if J.M. Coetzee had committed suicide instead of just writing books that make the rest of us want to, there would've been no Nobel prize in 2003.

So, with my eyes squinted almost shut, I wrote a paragraph about the thing. Afterwards, I felt like vomiting. It occurred to me that I would never be able to edit that paragraph without some sort of anxiety-reduction therapy, much like the kind administered to OCD people who compulsively wash their hands because they fear germs.

I turned to Lisa and Dan. "Desensitize me!" I pleaded. I confessed the thing. They laughed at me. Then they immediately launched into a military-like, cult-deprogramming rapid crash desensitization program not approved by any psychiatric organization known to man. I curled up into a tiny ball, squeezed my eyes shut, began rocking back and forth, and yelled "nonononononooooo" until they backed off.

"Too much too soon?" Lisa asked.

We all agreed to take it a bit slower. After I obeyed Dan's command to breathe, we started again. They asked questions about the thing. Does this part of the thing bother you? What about that part? I started to feel better, realizing that I could deal with many aspects of the thing that I hadn't previously considered. Clearly, I still can't blog about the thing. But thanks to Lisa and Dan, I could eat dinner, periodically joke about the thing, and not throw up a little in my mouth even once.

1 comment:

leesajay said...

i am so glad that i could be a part of the baby steps toward being alightly less horrified and disgusted by THE THING.

which i am happy to tell you i did at least twice today.