“Lisa, am I incapable of feeling?”
“What do you think?”
“I mean, I feel things. I feel frustation, loneliness, joy sometimes. But I guess my question is this—if all this pain and detachment and anxiety and depression is a defense mechanism against really feeling, how will I ever really feel?”
“You will feel how you will feel. There are no templates. There’s no right way to feel. You will feel as you learn to feel. I think you learned to hold things inside for so long that feeling is scary for you.”
“Growing up, I did not know how to feel, or to let it out.”
“Let me give you a scene. You are at church.”
“I don’t like church.”
“But this is different. This is not a big mega-church. This is a little catholic church in Mexico.”
“Just go with it.”
“There is a little old lady in the church and she is praying for you.”
“I hate it when people pray for me.”
“But this is different. She is not praying that you will feel better. She is just praying that you will feel. She is there with you, holding your head. Her prayer is very short. You don’t even understand the words. The real prayer is her presence. She is there with you, in your feelings. And then they come.”
“I don’t want them to come. I am afraid. I am afraid I will lose control. I am afraid I will go crazy or die.”
“But this old woman stays with you. She gives you permission to feel and she gives you a promise—you will not die. You begin to feel.”
In Lisa’s office, I begin to cry.
“No. No. I don’t want this.”
“It’s okay. I am here.”
“Oh Jesus. Oh God.”
And then I really come apart, wailing, weeping.
“Oh Jesus. Oh fuck. This fucking hurts.”
Lisa puts her hand on my shoulder.
“I am here. I am here.”