The witch-doctor leaned into me and said, “Okay, what do you see?”
I was lying on the couch in her office, eyes closed, holding a yellow pillow in my arms. The room was comfortably dark and cool, just the way I like it when I want to take a nap, which is exactly what I wanted to do.
“Nothing,” I said. “It’s dark. It’s just me in a dark room. I don’t see anything.”
The witch-doctor leaned in closer. I could feel her breath on my face. “Try again. Look around. What do you see?”
I tried looking. I turned my head one way. Then the other. My “private place” was pitch black. Someone had turned the lights off and neglected to tell me where the light switch was. “Nothing. It’s just dark. I can’t see anything. No furniture. No demons. No monsters. Are you sure we can’t burn some incense? Drink some ayahuasca? Or use chicken blood instead? You know, try voodoo or something to jumpstart my visions?”
“That’s illegal and beyond my scope of practice,” the witch-doctor said. “Let’s try this another way. Tell me what happened when you meditated this morning. Tell me about your thoughts. You said you found yourself talking to yourself. That you were having conversations with people who were not in the room with you.”
“Does this happen often?”
“I guess. I only just began to realize this.”
“And who are you having these conversations with? Who are these people?”
“Old people,” I said.
“Old as in your grandparents? Elderly people?”
“No. Old as in a long time ago. People from way back.”
“Okay. Then tell me about those people. Tell me about those conversations.”
I seem to have discovered that I hold conversations in my mind with people who are no longer part of my life. Some of these conversations date all the way back to when I was a teen, or when I was experiencing hard or difficult times.
I’ve begun to catch myself having these conversations when I’m meditating, and when I do, I tell myself, “Stop. This conversation is not taking place. It’s not real. Let it go. You are thinking.” That’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re meditating and you realize you’re distracted by thoughts. At least, that’s what my teachers taught me to do.
This seems to work most of the time, but a day or two later, I will hold another conversation with the same or a different person, or I will mull over an event that left a negative impression in my mind. This time, however, instead of letting the other person hurt me, or get the best of me, I’m the one in control of the situation, gaining the upper hand.
I don’t know if this is healthy, or if this is something I should stop doing. I’d like to figure out why the conversations are taking place and how I can get to the root of what may be triggering them in order to make them stop. My guess is that these are unresolved issues and situations that I am still processing and that have affected me. I want to come to terms with them in order to let those experiences go and not feel as if I was carrying a burden I should no longer be carrying.
I suppose this is what people call personal baggage: experiences that color and distort my daily life, thoughts, fears, and influence decisions I make. My baggage, instead of being a backpack that fits comfortably in an airplane’s overhead compartment feels more like a traveling trunk I’m carrying on my back. The trunk is big and heavy, and I can’t seem to be able to get rid of it. It has so much stuff inside that I can’t figure out how to sort the junk inside in order to toss what I no longer need.
Most of the conversations I have seem to be with men who’ve hurt me. They have to do with letting go of moments that left a wound in my heart. In other conversations, I try to convince myself that I am better without those people and situations, and that there is no reason for hanging on to them. Not everything in life gets the comfort or finality of having closure. The truth is: I’m still hurt, my ego is bruised, and at a certain level I blame myself for not seeing those situations clearly and for not leaving them sooner.
Yesterday, I ran across one of those “feel good” posts people share on Facebook that read: “The hurt is where the Light comes in.” This made my prostate contract in not a good way. I smirked and closed the window right away, but later, as I sat in meditation, I had to admit (begrudgingly) there was some truth to the statement.
Some good has come out from the hurt I’ve felt in the past. Without it, I wouldn’t have started meditating, or writing, keeping a journal, or seeking the help of a witch-doctor (albeit one who works without incense, ayahuasca, or chicken blood) to help me make sense and move past the hurt. Over time, and through hard work, I’ve begun to feel happier, better, and healing has begun to take place.
What I want is for the conversations to reach a certain conclusion and for them to stop. I want to be able to empty the trunk I’m carrying and go back to a manageable backpack or fashionable shoulder bag that is easier to tote and where I can just keep my personal things so I can leave those people, experiences, and conversations where they belong: behind me.
I heard the witch-doctor sit back in her chair. She let the words hang in the room between us for a while. “I think this is good,” she said. “I think this is a positive observation and discovery on your part. Where do you want to take this?”
“Forward,” I said. “I want to lighten the load, and move forward.”
“Good!” the witch-doctor said. “Let’s do some work then.”