Monday, September 13, 2010

Love Therapy

Today my daughter authoritatively announced, while we were snuggled up on the couch that what I needed, and needed that very moment was “Love Therapy.”

“What do you mean,” I said, because I’d never heard the word come out of her mouth. Of course, she knew I went to see my doctors weekly because of my brain “sickness,” but I’d neve r used the term “therapy”—certainly not in any context with me seated, nervously, anxiety-ridden on the edge of Dr. B.’s couch, while Dr. B. across from me trying to talk me down from whatever manic-edge I was precariously tiptoeing across.

Maybe I’d used it in terms of ligament/tendon/ACL repair. But that seemed too far from the mark. What she really meant was two individuals connecting because of shared compassion and love and need, real need for love and hugs.

“You know,” my daughter said. “When you get love and hugs from someone who loves you. For a really long time. Hugging and kissing you forever.”

My little sage.

And then she catapulted across the couch, arranged herself in some sort of upside down contortion, and proceeded to watch her favorite cartoon “Phineas and Ferb.”

And then I thought about what Dr. B. had told me today. That for the past five years what we have primarily been working towards is courage. The courage to wear short sleeves despite the rickrack of scars. The courage to eat meal, maybe even a dessert and not throw it up. The courage to speak my mind in public, to have a voice, to be seen and heard. The courage to stand up and look at my mottled, shadowed, and simultaneously light-filled life and say, Yes, I will live.


According to the poet Mary Oliver, it might look like this:

"I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

Love therapy. Requires courage. Requires me to be flexible and open and soft. Requires me to accept the love of others, their hugs and kisses. Which reminds me of something that Dr. B. once said.

“You know,” he said, “some people ask for a hug at the end of a session.”

He left it open-ended since I find it impossible to ask for anything. But Love Therapy. Maybe my daughter is right. You just need to throw yourself into it. Accept the love and care of others. Which necessarily means accepting a hug, the intimacy of two bodies telling each other, with hands pressed on each other’s backs, the pull of a body against another purely out of care and love, nothing else needed, nothing else required except the moment when you relinquish embarrassment (because I need the hug) and open yourself to the moment of being held up and held close by another person. Love Therapy. Maybe I’ll ask Dr. B. for one on Thursday.