First, a word on Dissociation
Once in awhile, I get this feeling that reality isn’t. Everything feels strange and far away. I almost feel that I’m watching some movie and am completely outside of it, even though I seem to have a direct impact on what the protagonist does. Often this is accompanied by dizziness, and other strange feelings in my head, which are hard to describe. I’ve been told that this is a form of dissociation, thought to be honest, I’m a little more driven to share my experience with it at the moment than I am to properly research terminology.
Today, I felt a strong sense of dissociation and it had already happened recently, too. Usually it only happens a few times a year, so this seemed like a big deal. Talking about this with one of my friends, they inquired whether I had been under a lot of stress recently.
In fact, I have been under a lot of stress. I recently entered into a serious romantic relationship for the first time in about seven years. This is a pretty big adjustment, and I had avoided relationships for a long time. It is, frankly, quite scary to be doing this again, especially since with closeness comes the possibility of hurting people and being hurt more than in other situations.
My girlfriend, Nicki, had recently mentioned “grounding” as a technique to deal with dissociation. Being rather unfamiliar with it in general, I simply took her word for it. Now, grounding itself is something that I am relatively uneducated on, but I know it involves using the senses to inflict a strong sense of reality on oneself. Some people use cold objects such as ice to snap them back into the present. Others focus extremely strongly on things they see around them in the current room. Honestly, anything that powerfully uses the senses can do. I’ve never tried this coping technique before, so I didn’t quite know what to choose.
It occurred to me that one of the virtues of Orthodox Christianity is its use of all the senses in worship. Every time we meet, we sing many beautiful songs. The deacon censes the whole church, bringing us to worship with smell. The church is covered in iconography, reminding us with our eyes of the God we worship. We kiss these icons, and light candles and oil lamps. Often, we receive the Holy Gifts, tasting the very body and blood of our Lord.
I am fortunate enough to have, in my room, a number of icons, as well as a oil lamp. To go with these, I have a prayer book filled with prayers for all times of day and all seasons. To ground myself, I lit the oil lamp, looked at the icons, and chanted a number of prayers. It was amazing. This brought me in contact with the God I worship. This experience reminded me of everything I love about Orthodox Christianity. As I lit the match to light the oil lamp, I smelt the burning, and even that was enough to shock me back into the present moment a little bit. I read the prayers and felt myself returning to reality. This was amazing.
This all happened a few hours ago. I feel back in reality. Reality is again. Grounding is amazing. I am thankful to have learned this skill. I finally put it into practice despite having learned it long ago. I intend to do more of this in the future.