Abnormal Psych Part 1: Fateful Fail
Light comes in on the breath but it is not the breath. It travels through the connective tissues but it is not a hormone or synapse. It might be electrical, magnetic, or some other deep-body current. It might be qi or chi. I don’t know what it is, and don’t ask me for double-blind peer-reviewed studies.
Ask me how many years I have sat praying by a candle, or writhing in bed with a migraine attack. Ask me how many necks I have touched, throbbing with pain, or weak and bent like old men with selfish regrets.
Ask me what it’s like to feel light flow into places like that.
When someone asks me if I believe in Reiki or angels I ask back, “Do you believe in the end of your nose?” In my field, healing systems like Reiki are called “energy” work and manual therapies are “bodywork.” For me the two are the same.
It’s just that the thing you are feeling, for example a bone or the energy of the bone, becomes denser or light, depending on variables like nutrition, exercise, or heredity. Also in play may be how they feel about their mother, politics, and whether they got a football injury in high school.
Think of an ice cube. It goes from rock-hard to melty to invisible steam. We all believe in ice cubes. It’s water, right? Water molecules change. Molecules change. Bodies are molecules. Light comes in on the breath. It mixes with molecules. Molecules change.
It might just be the heat from your hands, they say.
It might be the Light of God, too. Reiki, the angels, or prana if you go to yoga.
Call it what you want. This stuff is here. I feel and see it. And molecules change. And stop asking about double-blind studies.
I luckily escaped years poring over thick books and now the internet, oh my gosh, hardening down the molecules and electrical patterns of my preciously fluid and curious brain into strict acceptable thinking-patterns.
Squeezing out the light. I hate to think of it! How many times have I thanked God for making the thought of post graduate degrees frighten me?
God saved me by way of a guy named Morely Weiner (not whiner like a brat, but weiner like a hotdog.) He was my Abnormal Psych professor senior year. One day when I wasn’t participating, he came and sat in the desk next to me in the back row.
He made me look into his strained eyes, red and leaky at the water-line, the skin sunken white under his bifocals. He asked me what was wrong with me. When I said I didn’t know. He told me that he did know. “Zawidowski,” he said, “higher learning is for higher classes of people who need higher forms of mental engagement to keep them occupied and interested.”
(Zawidowski was my last name at the time.)
Anyways, it was Dr. Weiner who made me understand that I would not be a psychiatrist or psychologist. Thank God for Dr. Weiner. Thank God I am writing a blog that nobody reads instead of the discussion and conclusion of a research paper!
Morely my savior fascinated me. He used to stare for long half-hours, studying the construction site that churned outside the psychology office window that year. I wondered if he imagined ripping off his tie and specs and getting down there in the dirt with the guys, saying swear words and eating soup from a thermos for lunch. I actually pictured the grunting and spit as he hungrily grabbed for the jackhammer. I had to turn away.
He was right, though, in that I couldn’t keep up in Abnormal Psych. It was mind-boggling the things they made up about patients with mental illness. So much convolution about hurt and sad or angry people. I would have just said “their lights have gone out or are flickering low.” It was in that class that I received the only D of my life. D+ actually but the plus didn’t help with the shame.
At the time I thought I must be lazy or dumb to think it was only that simple: human lights weakening and then going out. Now I know how fortunate I was to have made it out of there with my light intact. I escaped to the Peace Corps in lieu of grad school.
(If you went to grad school, don’t think I am putting you down. I’m good with grad school. Only it wasn’t for me. And your light goes out when you do things that aren’t for you.)
I’m grateful my undergraduate education got me into the Peace Corps. It got me low-level jobs with the mentally ill. Those things got me perspective and yoga and sitting in silence for hours in front of candles. That got me to wanting to see people for who they were, to meet them one by one in my office, year after year. By the grace of God and Dr. Weiner, that’s how I have been contentedly spending my life.
So that brings us back to the beginning of this post. It’s how I came to be able to say with confidence that I know Light is there only because I can see it. I have no other proof, I don’t care, and I’ve been recently told that I have a childlike innocence about me.
I’ll bet that’s what the sage Morley Weiner saw when he singled me out in class, wondering how someone so naive had wandered into an advanced psychology class, gawking in stupid amazement like a kid at the zoo the first time she saw monkeys.