I woke up at 4:30 AM, curled tightly as an overgrown fetus, blankets tossed on the floor as Chaplin stood above my pillow, pawing at my face. I groaned, slowly started to unwind as I felt a throbbing pain pulse from my left hip out through the rest of my body. I placed both feet on the ground, and as I moved to stand up, I stayed slightly folded like some sort of discarded accordion as I flopped my way to the kitchen to bribe my cat with a can of Friskies.
I gotta stop sleeping on this couch.
I should explain. I had a bed. A perfect one in fact–a queen-sized, mattress-top Serta specifically chosen for a rigorous list of qualities that the computers at Sleepy’s in Hoboken, NJ determined would best hug the curves on my overweight body. I slept in it blissfully for months up until the summer of 2013, when I was a victim of assault. I can only assume those three men were only after my iPhone, but with it, they swiped my mental and emotional stability. In one word, that summer was R-O-U-G-H. My best friends those days were my cat, Chaplin, and my newly purchased micro-fiber couch. It kept me in place during all those panic-ridden nights of sleep where I would toss and turn relentlessly until Chaplin tapped me awake. It was perfectly situated in front of my television as I whittled away the hours with Friends reruns and Netflix binge-fests. It was plush, beautifully purple and large enough to sleep on. More importantly, it was inside the four walls of my apartment. My couch and me. The perfect relationship.
The summer ended and I moved from New York to Denver. My couch came with me. In fact, it was practically the only thing that did. The movers lost my bed and promptly wrote me a check for an exact replacement. I wasn’t put out—my bed was for guests. My couch was for me. This was an interesting thing to explain to a man I was dating who once offered like a gentleman to sleep on my couch after I invited him to stay for the night (to avoid a long drive home).
“No, it’s not that I’m offering you my bed as some sort of kind gesture. It’s just that you can’t have my couch.”
“You don’t think you’ll want to crawl in there with me if I take your bed?”
“Ummmm. No, I promise I prefer it on the couch.”
We broke up two weeks later.
My couch was always really good at cheering me up when I had a broken heart. So it should come as no surprise to you that I was eager to make this relationship work when I moved it with me to Portland. Perhaps, though, I just needed some space, a little less time with the couch because at this point, I could tell, I was wearing my poor old pal out. The hip pain was a subtle warning sign that maybe this couch couldn’t support me any longer.
I sought out the wisdom of a long-time friend in NYC who specializes in the art of Feng Shui. Alright—I know what you are thinking, but it’s not like that. He’s this hilariously quirky man who spent the last decade working as a corporate lawyer before he quit to pursue a career in life coaching and Feng Shui guidance (he was also an aspiring actor at one point, but who in New York wasn’t?). If I had to describe him, his approach is that of a Zen hybrid of Tony Robbins and Emeril Lagasse. He’s incredibly passionate about helping people be their best selves and he pulls in ancient Feng Shui wisdom and boisterous New York energy to get them there. I reached out to him to explain my dilemma–that I hadn’t been able to sleep consistently on a bed for three years. I was hoping he would enlighten me as to quick tips and tricks on bed placement, wall hangings and other possible furniture rearrangement that might put me in the right direction. I reached out to him via Facebook messenger to see if this would be something he could sort out via an official consultation.
He began the conversation by asking me a few simple questions. He asked me how long this had been a problem and if I had any other sleep issues. As we chatted, it came out that I started sleeping on the couch the summer I got mugged. Bryce honed in on it pretty quickly. When I told him it was the same couch, his response was immediate.
“Ok, so we’ll just do this now. Energetically, whether you believe this or not, an imprint occurs after a shocking event in your life. It stamps an anchor point in your home.”
Before he could even finish, as I sat in my work cubicle reading his messages, I knew where he was going. This wasn’t about how to sleep in my bed, but rather, what to do about my couch. MY beloved couch.
Tears started to well up in my eyes.
“Are you telling me I need to break up with my couch?” I sobbed silently so my coworkers wouldn’t hear the crazy woman three feet away crying over her sofa.
“We can look at the rest of your room later. This is too important. That energy is heavy, and I’ve seen it too many times to write it off. That couch nurtured you and held you in such a vulnerable sate. It’s funny, but this is the last little piece, the biggest roadblock to you moving past this trauma.”
I told him I would think about it, but it seemed drastic to toss a good piece of furniture when I had no means at the moment of getting a new one. I went home that night, sat down on my dear old friend, and everything felt wrong. The relationship had instantly changed. I cried again, this time angrily, as if this was the fight that needed to happen all this time. It occurred to me in that moment that I was just days away from the three-year anniversary of the mugging. I’d been through hell and back dealing with PTSD, on and off antidepressants, weight loss and even more weight gain, but one thing had stayed constant. I had made so much progress, was feeling infinitely stronger and healthier, but still, there was this one last ridiculous thing symbolizing the whole struggle.
I looked at it, my couch comrade, and I said, out loud “This sucks. But you gotta go.”
Before I had any time to doubt my decision, I was calling a junk removal service to have it hauled away. Slowly, I started to embrace the possibility that I was leaving behind a very shitty chapter in my life, and that by taking these steps, I was an jumping into a more hopeful one. By the time the truck arrived to take my pal away, I was enthusiastically taking pictures of the event and cheerily waving goodbye as the truck pulled away.
It didn’t matter to me that I had a giant void in my living room and only a bed to sit on. I spent the next few weeks researching furniture options and blasting repeated questions to Bryce. If was going to do this, I needed to do it right. He gave me tips on tapping into my creativity and personality, and he encouraged me to make my apartment a true home for myself. Honestly, after moving a dozen times through five different states in ten years, I was only really good at making my apartment ready for a fast getaway. My last movers joked that I looked like I had a bachelor’s apartment, and I wasn’t even upset about it. But for this project, I had to pull in my friends to help me go shopping because what the hell do I know about paint swatches and picture frames?
It’s been about a month since I completely overhauled my home, and the experience has been nothing short of transformational. Before breaking up with my sofa, I could only sleep three of fours uninterrupted (and that was on a good night in either my bed or on my couch). I’m happy to report I am now sleeping on average of 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, delicious sleep. I’ve started eating healthy again. I’m working out. Enjoying the hell out of my new job and city. I’ve successfully tapered off medicines that were once necessary to keep me stable. Hell, Chaplin even sleeps through the night and doesn’t wake me for 4:00 AM feedings anymore.
It wasn’t the physical properties in that furniture that made any difference. I’m sure of it. This isn’t wizardry. It’s what that sofa symbolized for me, and I am forever grateful to Bryce Kennedy (Boom) for his amazing insight and encouragement (seriously, do yourselves a favor and click that link to check out his work). Sometimes you just need someone to say to you, “If there’s a chance something in your life might be holding you back, is it really worth keeping that thing around?” No, it’s definitely not.
My Before Shot
And now my after: