Six weeks ago I was managing a housing property in a low income, high crime area, when a resident told me that a person, who I had helped send to prison, was out, and had a gun, and was threatening people with it. One of my duties as a housing manager is to inspect apartments. I inspected the apartment where I was told the gun was, and found the weapon in the basement. I called the police, spoke to the shift supervisor, and he told me he would send someone out right away. Then, oops, he forgot. After 20 minutes two young men came into the basement, took the gun, pointed it at me, and told me to keep my mouth shut. OK.
Since that time I have gone through various emotional and psychological issues that, after 20 years working in the field, has caused me to take a sabbatical (let’s just say it wasn’t the first time something like that happened) and to seek therapy.
I have been diagnosed with the early stages of posttraumatic stress, and one of my therapists’ treatments was to make a relaxation tape.
She taped it with me in the room to see how I would react. I was told to get comfortable and well supported and to shut my eyes. “Where the hell is my wallet?” I thought. “How well do I know this woman? OK forget it, just relax, and listen to what she says.”
I am told to let my hands rest on my body, my chest, and my midriff. “Midriff, that Lindsay Lohan has a nice midriff. She is hot. A drunk though, hot and drunk, I love hot and drunk, I wonder if she has a relaxation tape, I can see her lying back, oh crap, it moved, I have to pay attention, OK relax now!”
I am told to take in nice full breaths breathing in and out, in and out. “Lindsay laying there, chest rising and falling; what the hell is this with me and Lindsay Lohan? Can I have an emission during this? Oh God! I parked by the school. Okay, forget Lindsay Lohan, she’s a skanky ho. Just listen.”
The therapist is telling me to find a spot, somewhere that I used to go, that I was relaxed and safe. I think of my bed, with my wife, and my dogs, just lying there, relaxing: “What was that noise, is someone down stairs? Who is in the house? Oh God someone’s in the house! It’s Lindsay Lohan. She’s drinking all the Vodka.”
Then she says imagine somewhere from my youth and I think of fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee with my father at night, the boats, gently lapping against the dock, the sound of the frogs, the bright stars. “Teddy do you have on your booties?” “Mom get out of here this is my relaxation technique.” “I don’t care you are not going to be on the dock without your booties or am I going to have to put Baggies on your socks?” “Mom the other kids make fun of me when I have Baggies on my socks!” “But your feet are dry.”
I got out of the New Hampshire Lakes Region. Then I began to panic. She was talking about what I should be feeling, smelling. I smelled tomato sauce; it was on my shirt from lunch. I was feeling tense, like a kid who was going to get a pop quiz and didn’t know the answers. I was so far behind! OK find a place. Red Sox game, good, what’s the score? They’re losing, crap. OK, in the woods, walking, everything peaceful. Wait, I’m not wearing hunting gear. What if I’m mistaken for a deer? Oh God I don’t want to get shot, that’s why I came here in the first place. OK. I’m fishing. Wait. I hate fishing. The only reason I liked it before was because I was with my Dad. That’s it. With my Dad. “So you need therapy for having a gun pointed at you do you girlie man? I was in Korea, you know how many guns I had pointed at me?” Bye Dad. I am being told to put my forefinger and thumb together and when I do this it will release all my tension, I do it with such force my thumbnail breaks the skin on my finger.
She brings me out of my trance.
“Do you feel more relaxed?” Yes, I said. I was so stressed I would have admitted to the Simpson murders. She told me to make the o shape with my thumb and forefinger when I felt stress. I did. It made me think of Lindsay Lohan.
She gave me the tape to play to help me relax, but I haven’t done it yet. I don’t think I can take the stress.