When you are suffering, you will do anything to make yourself heal, which is how I launched into an exhausting list of “self-care” practices that include herbal supplement consumption, adrenal testing, yoga, acupuncture, talk therapy, meditation and eating a banana everyday (apparently, it is mood lifting).
The problem with doing all these things when you’re a nervous person is that you’re a nervous person, so you apply the tendencies of your mind to these experiences and they become painstaking chores. You forget to take your herbs and feel like you have failed. You wake up and don’t want to meditate or go to yoga because you’d rather just sit at your computer with a BIG-ASS COFFEE that will definitely impact your adrenals, and you start to think that maybe you just don’t care enough about yourself. That maybe you don’t deserve to feel good.
So you keep working towards betterment, which is how I ultimately cherried my “healing” cake with hypnosis.
At the end of New York Fashion Week — specifically, two hours before the Thom Browne show on a Monday — I met with Morgan Yakus, a former East Coast stylist and shop owner who is now a bi-coastal certified hypnotist and generally compassionate person. I was vulnerable enough to not even consider the archetypal renderings of what it means to be hypnotized. Would she sit me on a sterile chair in front of a black seamless and dangle a yo-yo in front of my face until I genuinely started to believe that I was someone else? Right out of the gate, she explained that I wouldn’t feel like a different person at the end of the treatment. Then she asked why I’d come.
I told her I was sick of being a prisoner of my mind. I’d been holding on to my lost pregnancy like it was the sole defining trait of my identity and I couldn’t let go. That I didn’t want to let go because I feared I would never get pregnant again, that I’d never have another period. A broken loser who at best could muster vile jealousy towards any carrying woman and at worst, regretted waking up in the mornings.
She walked me through my childhood, asked a number of benign questions about how I was raised and where I was raised and how a whole bunch of hypothetical scenarios dealing in pregnancy made me feel. The questions were rudimentary — I felt like a kid learning how to express emotion — but I think their simplicity was precisely the reason I could let it hang out. There’s something about assuming the innocence of your child-self that makes thinking scary thoughts feel a little safer.
Following the inquiry portion of our session, she laid me down on a treatment table. I had a black towel over my head and was instructed to roll my eyes back and let them flutter until they felt the need to close. At this point, the questions progressed. We walked through a ton of shit — everything from my relationship with my mom to my favorite kind of breakfast. Over and over she asked if I was ready to let go; while she asked this question, I had to pay attention to four different sounds coming through the room. “Yes,” I kept telling her, as I heard the fan slow down then pick up, slow down then pick up. “Yes.”
It felt like 20 minutes but by the time she’d concluded our session, it had been close to two hours. I got up, rubbed my eyes, put my shoes back on, left, and felt exactly the same.
Granted, I was slightly tired (I’d definitely fallen into some version of a meditative state), but I was sure that if you’d have asked me to replay the miscarriage — sitting in that chair while my mother-in-law tried to console me — or the announcement of my best friend’s pregnancy, I’d cry. But my mind wouldn’t let me go there, so I didn’t bother trying to make it go there.
I went for dinner that night with a couple of friends. We were talking about life and work and love and food and one of my friends looked over at me in an intimate moment and said, “You know you’re going to be fine, right?” I looked back and said I was fine — like I meant it.
For a good number of weeks, I believed it. I barely thought about kids, I stopped calculating how old I would be by the time they reached their 20s, I had sex just to have sex — can you believe that? For pleasure. It was actually nice to hang out in my head again. I loved being there! People always say that when you stop thinking about it is when you get pregnant (a stupid thing to tell a heartbroken, desperate woman) and when my doctor called me following some blood tests to let me know that I still hadn’t ovulated, it felt like all the work had been reversed. Like the past several weeks were a trick. A joke on me. I was angry and comparative again. I wanted to grasp anything that could give me hope. The acupuncture, the energy healing, the supplements. So I did. When I could. And when I couldn’t?
I simply couldn’t. It didn’t make me a failure or indicate that I deserved to suffer. I just didn’t have time. For me, this has really been the magic of hypnosis. That I could genuinely stop thinking I am the greatest loser of them all, stop beating myself down so profoundly? That’s freeing.
I have since modified my “self-care” routine to the following:
+Anything else when I feel like it.
I don’t think I’m ever going to not want to be a mom, or that I’ll stop fighting either. I anticipate that the vile jealousy will get better but don’t expect that seeing other women effortlessly receive (conceive?) what I still have not will make me happy like everyone says it is supposed to. I know that’s a controversial thing to admit — it might make me sound bitter — but for right now, in this moment, it’s enough to acknowledge and allow that without hating myself. No judgement.
Collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt; images by GraphicaArtis and Fox Photos/Hulton Archive via Getty Images.