I was given a gift of a free Tapas Acupressure Therapy (TAT) session by someone who attended one of my PTSD lectures. At the same time I have not been to my regular counseling session for several weeks. My anger issues have gotten better with more attention being given to them. I noted a strange disconnect between my bodily sensations and mental awareness the week after finals week. Several times I would assess my current state, the strange symptoms I was in, and I would note with an odd sort of curiosity that I was in a state of depression. Various things were attributed to it, from interpersonal relationships, nutrition and a body worn down from poor self care (that is, no sleep and tons of caffeine), and having put in a ton of effort into my school work and still falling short and the sense of self blame and shame that accompanies striking out when you want to hit a homerun. Yet this lasted about five days or so and I found myself “normal” again and moving on.
Then my TAT session. I needed to write a little bio in getting to this because perhaps it will aid in understanding the TAT session. First off this is my first and only session. My reading on TAT is all of one page from a PTSD sourcebook listing various therapies and I have no training in the matter. So what I have to say ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Yet after going through the session, which was a long one… over two hours… my initial reaction as a future psychologist and amateur theoretician is not that one is ‘tapping’ into any energy fields or the like, but that the novelty of the hand positions during the process puts the mind in a state of openness unique to novelty, not entirely dissimilar to the first religious ritual one experiences when the definitions of what is possible are as of yet unwritten and waiting for the pen to meet the paper. The other aspect of TAT that worked well with this sense of openness was similar to what my own therapist says whenever a troublesome emotion comes to the surface of my awareness, and that is she will guide me to ‘stay with it’ and to just be aware of what is going on. Generally emotions are, for me at least, highly mobile. That is to say that they compel me to move my thoughts, body, etc… to get out of that time/place/situation/thought. Depression, in the past, or rather melancholy, was addictive for me ten-fifteen years ago as it was ‘delicious to experience’ as it was during those darker times that life felt like it had meaning. It was a private emotion for me as in the day I was the go-getting hard charger, exemplifying all the qualities of ‘man’ that I could (to be considered successful) while at night I returned to the dark and a never ending replay of Mozart’s ‘Ave Verum Corpus’. I didn’t break out of this like a rocket from the Earth’s gravity (all at once) but more like walking through the mountains toward a distant peak. Hiking in the mountains is filled with ups and downs and open areas and closed areas, but if you keep moving toward that peak you don’t realize that overall you are moving ever uphill. Hard to see that when you just made an eight hundred foot decline into a valley, but the floor of the valley is five hundred feet higher than the elevation of your car at the trailhead. Stronger than my attachment for the meaning in melancholy was my love of a more authentic being in the world and following that distant peak has kept me moving. But as I get further along the path I see that it isn’t the distant peak that entices, it is the flora along the side of the path that truly rewards. It is the journey, not the destination.
While in the TAT session I was seeking to address my issues of intimacy with people, most notably romantic others. Anyone who knows me knows this is a well worn record. I have some great defense systems and could probably stand an assault from the armies of Mordor. This is, after all, what I am secretly expecting. At the slightest hint of problems I call out the defenses. They are ever watchful for the slightest change in the wind. The saying is cliché’ but it is true when I say ‘it isn’t you, it’s me’.
I do not remember the statement I was keeping in my mind at that particular moment but images ensued. Whenever I undergo therapy I will see pictures that are filled with associated meanings and such. And while I was undergoing this particular question I could see in my mind that I was in an underground maze. I recognized that it was the famed minotaur’s labyrinth. Looking back on it now I realize that I did not associate with the hero. I assumed I was the hero but I did not have thoughts of leaving a trail of string to find my way out or of killing the beast. What I was aware of was to find the center, to find the beast itself.
When I did find the center I found the beast. But I could only see it from very close up, that is a foot away and only of its shoulder. The course brown hair was visible and I ran my hand through the hair. There was no animosity from the minotaur at all. I was curious about seeing the minotaur as a whole, was it all man with a bull’s head? Was it mostly bull? But I couldn’t back away enough to see it. Then it dawned on me… I was the minotaur. I was looking at my own shoulder. This came as a surprise. Didn’t see this coming.
Another statement to sit with had me back in the maze. I didn’t plan it but it happened. I could see the hero walking through my labyrinth. The image was at first of him laying a string behind him as he went, but my mind quickly changed the image (without my telling it to) of him laying bread crumbs. When the hero went by my minotaur self moved the breadcrumbs to follow a different section of the maze. And in the center of the maze I waited. Eventually the hero got to the center, sword in hand, and looking at me. What came next came naturally from within me but it wasn’t something that I was consciously writing like a script. But the minotaur, me, told the hero that the path out had been changed. “Fight me if you wish. If I win then all will be as it was. Another skeleton amidst many. If you win then you will be lost within the maze yourself. Or, if you wish to consider, I may show you the way to the door and afford you a chance to leave in peace.” The hero took the minotaur’s offer and at the gate was bid to live a long life and to please tell the king not to send any other heroes or sacrifices into the labyrinth.
This was very interesting to me. When another statement came for me to be present with was given to me, I could see the labyrinth and the large open entrance that I had just led the hero to. Now I was looking at it and being asked to come out. I had such an opposition to moving outside that entrance. Before the statement I was asked to forgive and that word alone brought up a lot of resistance from me. The minotaur did leave the maze, saw a large world with lots of autonomous things beyond his control around him, but kept the maze nearby, ready to go back in if the wind changes.
There was an image that came up later that was quite shocking and as up front as I am about internal processes in order to help ease the stigma for others, this image from early childhood is really too personal to list here and warrants a counseling session of its own.
There is much more but I must leave now to go to work slinging beer.