I am seeing a hypnotherapist. I found him on Yelp. Really.
I know how “LA” I sound, but I must say; this guy–Peter Bedard– is extraordinary. I decided to go this route versus traditional therapy to help me deal with my obsessions. I figured getting hypnotized would be a quick fix. However, as Peter puts it: it’s not about cleaning up a corner in your room. It’s about cleaning the whole house. Apropos considering I have a major cleaning obsession.
Ever since Emmett was born I have become increasingly uptight about our house. I literally cannot walk past a crumb on the floor without stopping to pick it up. My mind never stops racing about all I have to do. Having our gaggle of guests week, after week, after week, only made matters worse. My anxiety level reached an all time high while my milk supply went low. In short, living in my brain became exhausting.
I went to Peter hoping for a miracle. In him, I found a healer.
While I like to keep a clean house, I knew my obsession was largely about control. He took it a step further by pointing out that our bad behaviors “benefit” us in some way. In my case, the “benefit” was my license to be angry, to be a martyr. I would storm around pissed off that Phil forgot to scoop the cat liter or take out the garbage (I have to do everything myself); I found myself angry at our friends who wanted to come visit (why are they here when I have a newborn? They should at least be getting up in the night); and ultimately angry with myself for not coping better (you suck at this).
I was reeling.
When I explained it all he said, “How’s it working out for you?” I nearly burst into tears. “Not so good,” I replied in misery. We talked at length. He threw out the old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy?” And more importantly: “Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.”
Cue the sirens in my head: Time to avert disaster.
Through a series of visualizations, he had me fire my “critical self”–that voice inside that keeps you spinning. Then he had me “rehire” it, but as my personal assistant. After all, it is a part of me. But I was back in charge.
Rather than controlling my environment and the people in it, he told me to visualize governing–graciously. I pictured myself in a white flowing outfit, looking out onto our beautiful garden. My arms are outstretched and my children are playing. It is a picture of happiness. Of serenity. And ultimately, of surrender.
I have had 4 sessions thus far and each time I feel like I’m making great strides. We are now working on “pattern interrupts.” Like at this moment I am wearing a purple rubber band around my wrist. When I start to spin, I snap it–hard–to jolt my brain back. The goal is to keep that personal assistant in his place (I decided it was a man). The breath of fire is another technique. The other day I was playing with Fia when I found my mind racing. I immediately went into the breathing and boom–pattern interrupt. Fia’s giggling at her strange mama didn’t hurt either.
At the end of each session we do about 15 minutes of the hypnosis. It’s really just a deep meditation. If I had to think of it as hypnosis, then the whole time I’d be obsessing and my brain would go like this: “Am I hypnotized yet? I don’t know. How about now? Now? Not sure…” and so on. But a deep meditation I can relax into and absorb his words.
It all comes down to training your brain to stay positive. As an example, I asked him how I could go into something with positive intention if I dread it, like paying bills. Without skipping a beat he said, “Be grateful you have the money.” The next day I sat down with that intention and those old thoughts of– why am I always the one to do this?– stayed away.
It’s a simplistic example, but sometimes that’s what resonates most.
In my September 11th piece I said that parenthood is a privilege. So is life. I only get one. But I gave life to two. I don’t want to waste this time controlling them. Or the crumbs.
Meditation Picture via Shutterstock