A slow drum beat mixed with a cymbal tap,
Soft lyrics crooned over electric guitar,
Or is it a slow piano entry?
This will be on my videotape, my videotape
And he’s reaching up to grab me
In red, blue, green
Red, blue, green
When I spin away
Do you talk it out? Gush to a friend or to anyone who will listen,
Pour out your heart’s thoughts and your brain’s feelings,
Blurt and ramble and blab and let it all go.
Or do you keep it wrapped up,
In your belly like your sternum is made of ace bandages?
Say, “Oh I’m fine,” and “No, nothing’s wrong,” and “Yes, I’m sure,” and “No, I don’t need anything.”
Hold it together for your sake or for theirs, or maybe it’s for no one’s and you don’t even know why you do it.
Maybe you find some mixture of the two. You cry silently while someone asks repeatedly, “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
Does it eat away at you because you do want to talk about it but you don’t but you do but you also don’t?
This is my way of saying goodbye
Because I can’t do it face to face
I’m talking to you after it’s too late
No matter what happens now
You shouldn’t be afraid
Because I know today has been the most perfect day I’ve ever seen
-“Videotape” by Radiohead
That’s my healing song when I need to cry it out to my Corolla–but I also demand to listen to it on every road trip, right, Lochdawg?
Also, I’d say I do all of the above at one point or another. I spent the end of the school year hearing my 8th graders discuss their growth, both in character and in academics. Along with their growth, strengths, and struggles, they discussed their coping mechanisms, and how they expect to deal with the pressures of high school. They can actually articulate, “When I am mad, I….” and “If I get angry, I…” It’s something that many adults would not be able to do, like ever.
What I also realized is that they really know how to deal with their feelings, or at least how to present they do so that a room full of adults believes them and rates them highly on their rubrics. When I was 13, I don’t even know if I realized I felt feelings. I can’t imagine being able to verbalize my character growth and my methods of dealing with my emotions.
The past week has been oddly full of incredibly difficult things happening to people I love. And in each case, the person going through something hard has been absolutely graceful and strong and vulnerable when she or he needed to be. (I’m fanning myself in amazement at my friends–though not at all surprised.)
Follow a loss, an illness, a disaster, a break up, an economic hardship, a legal hurdle, or any other awfulness, there’s such a wide variety of reactions.
For some people it seems like the healing process just happens automatically, they just face it, do it, done. But I’d argue that without some really deep dives, those quick and seemingly peaceful recoveries can lead to eruptions or latent bubbles of anxiety, fear, or melancholy later on. And I’m sure there are those rare people who just become okay after sad things and they really are just okay. I am not these people.
Being an adult is significantly easier, or at least more smooth, if you know what heals you, know how to accept help, and know how to pursue help. Twenty-five year old Amandy was a collection of fire, tears, intense anxiety, joy, and chaos. My only coping mechanisms were getting angry at my mom or Chas (though they were faultless), listening to sad music, crying, and running.
Now, at 30, I have a portfolio of healing tools. I have therapy, acupuncture, a strong yoga practice, Cymbalta (does that count?), significantly improved communication and apology skills, meditation, a backyard garden, and an assembled team of the best human beings on the planet, including the most loving Chas. But I’ll still blast “Videotape” when I really need to.
I think if there are just a few things I have taken away from this and can give out as unsolicited advice (you must know by now that I love giving unsolicited advice), it’s that we are dynamic creatures. What heals us will evolve with us and it’s crucial to allow oneself to be open to healing in various ways. We also have to recognize that other people heal in different ways and to respect others’ processes. Very selfishly, I immediately want to act to “fix” someone’s issue. I’m working on it–we’re dynamic, right?
Here’s a list of recommendations you didn’t ask for.
- Meditation in Baltimore. The Shambhala Meditation Center in Charles Village has meditation classes that last about a month in which one can learn different methods of meditation. Classes are donation based. They also have drop in meditations called “group sittings.” Many are free. The Kadampa Meditation Center in North Baltimore City offers guided meditations daily. It’s a buddhist temple but don’t be intimidated. They’re wonderful.
- Therapy. Psychology Today has a great search engine in which you can search for therapists by zip code. I left everything up to chance, called a bunch of people and left messages, and went with the nicest person who actually called me back. I’ve been going to Erica for five years now (hey, girl!).
- Acupuncture. If I had a nickel for every time I told someone that I receive acupuncture and he/she replies, “Ooohhh I’ve always wanted to try that!” I’d own my own wellness center. I started acupuncture for general anxiety and my acupuncturist has really become a life coach for me. I know that’s an extremely first-world sentence and for that, I am sorry. She just makes my whole world better. There are plenty of acupuncture sites in Baltimore, including sliding scale pricing for acupuncture and acupuncture through Johns Hopkins Medical. You can get as crunchy as a homemade paleo granola bar or as sterile as a white room.
- Put that energy into helping others.
- Yoga. I know. I know. You’re sick of hearing about yoga but seriously, it just makes things better. The first week is free at Core Power but if you have eyes, you know that there’s yoga all over the place. Here are some other options in Baltimore with varying levels of fitness, spirituality, crunch, and diversity of classes.
- YogaWorks super diverse set of classes.
- Yoga Tree good variety (now) and right in Hampden.
- Lift is in an old church. It’s brand new, super cool, woman-owned and run. And they have a very restorative Yin class I’d highly recommend.
- Baltimore Yoga Village is a more wholistic experience for breath, meditation, and crunch. Warning: if you click on the website, you will hear monks chanting.
- Here’s Baltimore Magazine’s Wellness Guide.
- Run. Here are some ways to run or work out with a group.
- Baltimore Running Festival. Ranges from 5K, to relay, to half marathon, to full marathon. It’s Christmas Day in Baltimore.
- Back on My Feet. Running group that meets four times per week (you don’t need to go all four days). Non-residents run with residents of shelters or treatment programs. This should also be part of #4 above. Run between one and four miles on weekday runs.
- November Project. Work out with a zealous group of people on Wednesdays at Rash Field and/or Fridays in Patterson Park. Free, no judgement, no need to sign up, just show up.
- Call me. I will run with you.
- Create art. Pinterest some shit and just get to work.
I also want to acknowledge that some wounds will never completely heal and that’s okay too. We just find new ways of living with our scabs and scars and when all else fails, there’s always Radiohead.
PS: The photo is the triple foam phase of the deluxe car wash on Falls Road at Cold Spring Lane. But it looks like an impressionist painting, doesn’t it?