“Feel that. Whatever you are feeling right now. Just sit with that emotion.”
I didn’t want to. I was reading my homework for Doc. A few pages typed into my netbook. Very honest words to myself. My pace was measured. I tried to put on my writer-ly voice.
But then I got to two lines. Two deep lines. I hoped he wouldn’t notice. He did.
“Close your eyes. Imagine the emotion. How do you see it? Perceive it? What does it feel like? What does it look like? Try not to qualify it as good or bad. Just be curious about it. And just sit for five minutes with it.”
I felt it in my face. Tense. Constrictive. From my eyes down to my lips. Curving almost under my chin. Pressure. Pain.
It was a mask. Shiny and red. Beautiful, if I didn’t know where it came from. It was angular, asymmetrical, with ridges and valleys that gave it depth. Drew in your eye. It was a primary red, but not one color. It melded into darker shades, but always came back to the true blood hue.
It pushed down on my top lip. Constricted my breathing. Covered my nose. Palmed my cheeks. Squeezed my face tight. Swirled around an eye. Rested where my third eye would be.
It reminded me of a dark masquerade adornment. Like something I would wear with layers of black and spiked heels. Or with no layers at all.
I didn’t want to stay with the mask. But this was Doc. So I trusted that I needed to feel this. I kept repeating the lines over and over again. I kept myself in that place, mostly. Tears streamed silently down my face.
Doc gave me space to come back. Open my eyes when I was ready. I described the mask to him. Noted how it was probably symbolic of something. He put that thought aside.
Instead he noticed my change in demeanor. My voice was lower. Distant. I wasn’t vibrant any longer. I’d wiped away my tears already. Blown my nose. Tensed up my shoulders. Hunched over.
I was protecting myself. Pushing that feeling away. Like I always do. Whenever I really feel it. Whenever I delve into hurt or pain or anguish or grief. When I stop the tears, I shut away the emotion. I was trying to protect myself from myself.
I was compartmentalizing. I’m really good at that.
Doc handed me a piece of paper. It was a long list separated by three categories. Doc asked me to read the list and pick which statement fit me most. I read.
A little bit.
“Huh,” I scoffed.
I couldn’t even remember the other possible statements. The one I read, the last one I read, was so perfect.
“I can’t get what I want.”
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