Working on the most challenging mask thus far

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Captain’s log, earth date 2024.01.04.

It’s been three years since I sat down with my therapist in 2020 in downtown Seattle.

I sat on the couch, hugging the left armrest, barely taking up any space. We did the customary chit-chat; then, he asked me what I was here to work on.

Well, for the past ten years, I’ve been working on my sleep problems. I’d get my 8 hours of sleep and wake up feeling like I didn’t sleep. I had seen sleep doctors, tried sleep medication, and everything under the sun.

I was physically okay.

I also told him I’ve been through about six or so therapists. We’d start, then end pretty quickly. I would leave feeling better, then a few months would go by, and I’d be back to square one.

In hindsight, I really didn’t learn from my lessons. Now knowing what I know now, it was all meant to be. My past self needed to go through all that start and stop to finally get the courage to push through.

My therapist said that he’ll work at my pace; he’ll challenge me but not push me beyond my comfort zone. I added that I have this fear that I’d open up the can of worms and not be able to put it back. Well, this time, I’m committed to seeing this through. Push me. Challenge me. Knock me out of my comfort zone.

Little did we know that we’d do the rest of our sessions virtually. The pandemic started just a few weeks later.

The time that Data held my emotions

One of the first masks I created was Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s an android that does not have emotions. He held the hard feelings, by shutting them down when it gets hard.

I’ve had a strange relationship with Data over the years. At first, I saw him as a friendly savior, someone who held the emotions for me. I lived most of my life believing that emotions are bad and that being emotionless is superior.

Later, as I did more work, particularly with EMDR, there was this moment when little Daniel turned over the keys to Data. In the session, that moment was not a friendly handover, as I remembered, but instead a moment of fear. It was almost like a veil covered my little self, and a new persona emerged.

I’m working on my relationship with Data as I continue my journey. He’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, he makes really uncomfortable situations completely tolerable. I’ve been through really tough events and activities, and at times, he’s held that fear in check.

On the flip side, Data shuts everything down. When I need to feel something, when it would be helpful to feel something, he shuts it down.

Time is a friend

Our society is led to believe that time is our enemy, that our mortality is something to prevent, be fearful of, and to avoid.

We have no control over time.

As I work on this mask of mine, in this moment of my healing, my son is approaching the same age as when I put on mine.

There’s a once-in-a-lifetime convergence.

Is it random? Or was it always planned?

In the coming months, I’ll be participating in a couple of psychodramas to work on this mask, to find and heal what Data is holding for me.

As I committed three years ago, I intend on seeing this through. There’s no end, but there is an obvious hump to get over.

The journey is the destination, but I also want to know what’s on the other side.

Published by Daniel Hoang

Daniel Hoang is a visual leader, storyteller, and creative thinker. As an experienced management consultant, he believes in a big picture approach that includes strong project leadership, creative methods, change management, and strategic visioning. He uses a range of visual tools to communicate business challenges, solutions, and goals. His change strategy is to build "tribes" of supporters and evangelists to drive change in culture and organization. Daniel is an avid technologist and futurist and early adopter.