I recently saw the film Ready Player One, which is based on a book about a virtual reality world where people are different versions of themselves. In this world, you can be whoever you see yourself as. If you are gawky and pimply in “real life” you can be a supermodel in this virtual world. When you watch the film, you are continually wondering what the characters look like in the “real world” outside of virtual reality. Virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular in our generation, and not just for fun, but it is also used as a therapeutic modality. I never imagined that visiting a fictitious land where you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever it is you want to do would actually evolve into a therapy session.
It makes sense that entering into an alternate universe would be a freeing experience. One of the things that people tend to find difficult about therapy is that it’s hard to open up about your problems. If you’re experiencing emotional pain, you don’t necessarily want to let it all out at once. It can hurt. So, if you are placed into an alternate/virtual reality, it might be a little easier to be free enough to be yourself and relax just enough to let your emotions out.
I’m hurting right now. I am imagining a place where I don’t have to feel so deeply. I’m envisioning an alternate universe where I can fly, soar high above my pain. I’ll be able to look down upon it literally and in an elitist way. I’ll think things like, oh I am so above feeling pain. That’s not who I am. I am stronger than that. I try to be a kind person, I am giving and loving towards others and yet, still I don’t receive the treatment that I deserve. I don’t seem to be understood in a way that I want to be. In my imaginary universe, I’d be built, have six-pack abs, wavy red hair that never frizzed, eyeliner that didn’t smudge and my eyelashes would be long and feminine. In this land I would have no fear, I’d be able to fight anyone. I’d be knowledgeable in multiple forms of martial arts and that knowledge would allow me to stay focused on winning matches with my opponents.
When I start to become in touch with my pain in this world, I yearn to jump into this pretend land. It would have bright blue skies, vibrant green grass that was soft to the touch. In this world, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything at all. I could run as fast as I needed to. I could jump as high as I wanted to, especially if I needed to avoid an enemy. I was safe from danger in this world. I had a posse of people who were skilled with physical strength and cunning wit. Their powers were magical and served to protect me from harm.
I find myself in this world where I am not impervious to pain. Pain freezes me or knocks me to my knees, making me pray for relief. It tells me that it won’t end, scaring me into believing that it’s true. It’s not. And I know it.
Maybe one day I’ll get to work that pain out in a virtual reality, fighting dragons and slaying monsters. It would make me feel like my pain, my suffering was worth something.