In November of 2005 (four years after 9/11), the final pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place and I broke through the final ceiling to experience the mind-blowing understanding that is mental health….
…and the ‘burst of creative energy unlike anything I’d known before,’ that Dr. Vilardi had described, kicked in.
For the next two years, I enjoyed a manic ride of revelation, enlightenment and awareness that I could have only imagined in my wildest dreams.
It is very important to this story to know that I stopped drinking alcohol a year before the breakthrough. One day, Dr. Vilardi said, “We can’t finish your therapy until we get your father out of the room and we can’t get your father out of the room until you stop drinking.”
Alcohol (and other drugs) blocks memory. It affects reason. It chemically alters brain function. It was blocking my success in therapy. On par with analysis, quitting drinking is the single greatest thing I have ever done in my life for myself and for my children.
In this moment of complete enlightenment, my mind clicked on and I started to ‘process’. I began to re-think my life again, at an exponential rate, from the ages of about 12 to 24. I had lived with foundational self-loathing and a debilitating low self-esteem. I had considered suicide often in those years. No one in my life ever had my back. I floundered in the world unprotected. I had chronic self-doubt paired with murderous rage. Now I understood. I saw the light. I saw things clearly and was standing on solid ground for the first time in my life.
When Dr. Vilardi told me about this amazing burst of creative energy, I fantasized that I would have a choice; I would become a painter of beautiful oil or acrylic landscapes, still lives and portraits; something I’d always admired and wanted the talent to do.
But no, it was nothing that cool. I started knitting. I had always been a crafter. But crafting is kind of a corny type of art. Any type of crafting: knitting, sewing, crocheting, baking had always come easily to me and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Of course this would be where my creative expression would surface! It is obvious now that working with my hands was to be my next form of therapy and personal expression, but I did have a brief moment of disappointment when I realized that I wouldn’t be the next Vincent Van Gogh.
So, I knit. And knit. And knit; like a fiend. With my hands actively engaged and the soothing meditation of tactile touch, I could think and process. And think and process. And think and process. It was an incredible ride. Everything made so much sense. I was figuring ‘it’ out. With each new layer, I was more solidly convinced of what I knew to be true. I wanted to tell the world. I wanted everyone to have what I ha and to know what I now knew. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! I had seen the light and wanted to share it with everyone. It was manic and crazy; but a contained and productive crazy. It was fantastic. It was good. I wish everyone could experience it.
The best visualization to explain this creative explosion and the ride of my life is to remember the mental image of Wyle E. Coyote,‘ from the Road Runner cartoon in the 1960s, riding The Acme rocket’ in some scheme to catch the Road Runner. I was having so much fun. I knew I sounded insane but I didn’t care. I felt that I held the key to our salvation. All we had to do was be nice to each other. Literally. I knew the feeling wouldn’t last forever so I allowed myself (no negative self talk or self-punishment) to sit back and enjoy the ride. It was as though I could see myself from afar yet be in the moment as well. I was experiencing mind-blowing inspiration that was unparalleled by anything I had ever experienced or heard of.