As I climb the third flight of stairs on the switchback staircase that leads to my therapist’s office on the 4th floor, an insight pops into my head:
I need to disorient myself
Disorient? That’s an unusual word to apply to self, but I know what I mean. I’ve gotten so entrenched in my blogging world that there’s no room for anything new to emerge.
I intended to spend the bulk of my therapy session on the topic of my work, but alas my family (of origin) took precedence–again. Even though the hour is just about up when I toss out the words “disorient” and “writing,” Carolyn visibly quickens.
“Disorient? Are you sure that’s what you mean?” she asks, leaning forward from her reclining chair across from mine.
It’s a curiosity to me, but this therapist is riveted by the writing process. She’s been a great supporter of my work over the years, even when I haven’t. When I look back, I can see that my writing really took off when I began working with her.
“What I mean is that I want to disorient myself from what I’ve been doing, but I don’t know what else I want to do,” I explained, as I turned to look out her window–to the great expanse of the Connecticut River and the sky and the mighty Mount Wantastiquet whose fall colors had just begun to show.
“Kelly…” Carolyn began, with deep emphasis.
I love when she says my name this because it means my work is over, at least for a bit, and she’s going to tell me something–something she’s synthesized over the years that she sees in me. (Only, I never know if it will be a uplifting or troubling.)
“This restlessness you’re feeling, it’s what comes when you’re ready to birth something new. You can’t see what’s coming, but you know you have to let go of what you’re doing in order to make room for it,” she explains.
I visibly soften and brighten at the thought of my work having a “process.”
Like a hand on the kaleidoscope of my life, Carolyn shifts my perspective, ever so slightly, transforming a jumbled view into something with meaning–and beauty.
I soak that it before I get up to leave.
That was three weeks ago, and I couldn’t wait for the follow up. On a Tuesday morning at 10:15, the phone rang, and I heard Carolyn’s voice on the answering machine.
I’ve missed my appointment.
I stumble to the phone and offer a confused apology. How could I have forgotten about my appointment?
But I am in the throws of a terrible cold and I have lost touch with the world of calenders and responsibilities.
“I know that cold,” Carolyn says, “It’s disorienting.”
“That’s exactly it,” I say, relieved to be understood so completely.
I return to bed with feelings of embarrassment and guilt along with fever and incessant coughing. I haven’t had caffeine or chocolate or alcohol in a week, nor have I written a word. When I do finally begin to write again, it’s at the pond, on paper, like in the days before laptops and blogging.
The sun’s warmth feels strange on my feverish skin, and so I remove my clothes and dive into the pond, welcoming the cold September waters.
Afterward, I wrap myself in my towel, and remain unclothed, even when others arrive too.
The sky is unusually hazy, more like a July day, but the heat inside me is greater than the sun’s, leaving me restless. Even though the water is choppy, I head out in my kayak, appreciating the strong wake beneath my boat.
Though I prefer to paddle on a still pond where I can easily direct my course; today, I lay my paddle down and let my hands trail through the water while the wind takes me where it will.
Only then does it occur to me–I’ve gotten exactly what I want.
Kelly Salasin, late September 2010