Monday, June 14, 2010

A Day In The Chair

I spent most of the afternoon in the chair. No, I wasn't strapped down, and there were no last minute calls to the governor asking for clemency. I was there of my own free will. If there was torture to ensue, then I would take it like a man. Actually, I would take it laying down.

The process of being in the chair is probably similar in many circumstances. I was asked to sit in a reclining position. I was relaxed, and turned slightly away from having direct eye to eye contact. Throughout the afternoon I was indulged in an exercise in free association. At times subject were brought up by the other, at times direct questions were asked. There were check-in's about my family, and how I was doing with my grief. There were shared memories, and why they are important to me. I was asked if I still miss Michael each day, and what that is like. We talked of depression and various ways of treating it. We spoke of daily meditation, and ways to self soothe our soul. I spoke of my writing, and how therapeutic it has become.

I was given feedback as to how I appear today, in relation to last month, in relation to six months ago. It was pointed out to me how fortunate I am to have my children, and how they can offer me love, and the occasional distraction from my pain. The depth of my loss was acknowledged. My ways of expressing myself was reinforced as positive. I was told that I am doing well if I choose to continue facing this difficult period head on. I was asked about my plans of relocating, and what I was expecting from it.

This session lasted over three hours. In the end I was asked to stand before a mirror and look at my reflection. I was asked to give my own feedback as to how I see myself as different from when I first arrived. I was asked what my level of pain was. It was pointed out to me that I do not seem to be bothered by pain. I seem to accept it, rather than fight it, or feel overwhelmed by it.

I was asked to return in a week or to for a check in. I was given constructive feedback about the work done. I paid my fee, and then in a move less professional, and more personal, I received an open embrace.

This was my day at the tattoo parlor. My tattoo artist has been on this journey with me for the past couple of years. She was there to put Michael's initials, along with a lotus flower and Kanji symbol for hope two years ago. It was a Valentine's Day surprise for Michael. She was there in the weeks after Michael died, permanently drawing the Tree of Life on my back, which symbolized my experience of Michael's death, and adding a small sparrow which took flight away from the tree. She was there last month when I needed a Mandala to help me keep centered, and to remind me to meditate. She was there when my daughter and I received our matching lotus flowers, which symbolized each of our personal journeys of growth. And she was there today, when I received my Koi, which will symbolize my courageous efforts to continue swimming upstream through the 'ocean of suffering.'

And similar to my Therapy Tuesday, with my EMDR. I was able to find new insights into my journey while exploring these themes, as my body also experienced the ongoing vibrational pain of the needles. For some this may seem a bit extreme. For some it may seem to leave a permanent mark which might later be in question. For me, it is important to mark each phase of my development, and then stand back and appreciate its beauty.

A day in the chair.

A day well spent.


  1. This sounds like such a positive experience. It's really quite wonderful that the same artist has created all of the tattoos that are so entwined with the events of your life. Also, that you have this history together - one that provides a base for discussing all that has gone before and that lies ahead.

    Interesting about pain. I always had a high pain threshold, but since Don died, it has become even higher - I almost can't feel physical pain anymore. Working on this house, and fixing my farm up to go on the market last year were very hard on my body, but as the days go on, I just feel myself getting stronger and stronger. What seemed heavy a month ago, now seems light. Sanding drywall over my head used to be hard and now it is easy and can be done for minutes at a time rather than seconds. It makes me think of how much experience can change us, and that if we keep challenging ourselves in new ways, we can grow stronger.

  2. I was hooked... trying to think what kind of appointment you were talking about. Completely surprised by tattoo. Made me smile, Dan. No small feat.