The Bouncy Bridge - A Discovery on My Path to Empathic Recovery

I just took another step toward empathic recovery by discovering and identifying situations in which I used to feel responsible for someone else’s emotional response. I remembered that I once had a supervisor who would yell or complain anytime anyone would ask him something. At very least he would bark out an answer without looking up. At worst, he would berate the person for interrupting him.

Walking up to him to ask a question felt like crossing a Bouncy Bridge. It was as if there wasn’t solid ground under me, like I was on a rope bridge dangling over a cliff. It was so uncomfortable that I found myself acting in unusual ways.

Like a little kid, I would stutter or forget my question just as I walked up to him.

Even though I knew that his emotional responses did not match the circumstances, I still believed that I had some sort of responsibility in the situation. Otherwise, why would I talk to him like a child sheepishly telling his father he had done something wrong?

I now realize that my supervisor was emitting very strong emotional energy, which created the sensation of the Bouncy Bridge. When I stepped into his unstable energy, I was reminded of my father’s unstable energy and, thus, I took on a child-like role.

This is a rather extreme example, but some people create more subtle Bouncy Bridges as well. I knew someone who was very self-conscious about making mistakes regarding meeting times and was overly hard on himself about it. If he sent me a text with the wrong time for a meeting at a coffee shop, I would hesitate to tell him, knowing he would text back something like, “Damn! I always do that.”

In fact, the second I thought of correcting him in a reply, I would notice his Bouncy Bridge and my stomach would feel a bit queasy.

He wouldn’t even know he’d made the mistake yet, but I would feel the Bouncy Bridge he would soon be constructing. (Remember: There is no space and time).

I would usually reply in a delicate way that made it obvious I was treating him carefully, resulting in him feeling even worse. Although the emotions in this case were less severe than the anger of my boss, they were just as effective in entangling me.

Bouncy Bridges are extended when people are nearing a trigger point.

Now, whenever I feel uneasy energy from someone, I employ a method to determine if I’m encountering a Bouncy Bridge. I take a moment and imagine replacing the possible culprit with my friend Bob, a dude who is crystal clear in all situations. I’m not saying Bob doesn’t get upset, it’s just that when he is upset, it’s very clear why he’s feeling that way and the intensity of his feelings match the situation.

I wonder to myself how Bob would react if I told him he had the time wrong? He would reply, “Oh yeah. That’s right. See you at 1pm then. Looking forward to it!” And if Bob was my supervisor, he might say, “Wow. That certainly needs to be taken care of. Thanks for pointing that out, Scott.”

In both cases I would not feel a Bouncy Bridge with Bob, clarifying that neither the circumstances nor my actions are responsible for the uneasiness. Rather, it’s the other person’s emotional response causing the problem.

As I am able to identify more and more where the emotions I encounter are coming from, I find greater recovery. I find more peace.

We are all empathic to some degree, meaning that we all feel other people’s emotions in our bodies. Our go-to labeling system is quick to mark each new emotion with a shiny sticker that reads “MINE.” But we can improve our lives by taking a breath and pausing for a moment to ask: “Is this really mine or have I encountered someone’s Bouncy Bridge?”


I have always judged how worthy I am of love.

What this really means is: I have always judged how worthy I am of my own love.

I feel like I’m in kindergarten while writing this. Like I’m working through the mist of a 5-year-old’s naiveté.

I know that grownups know better. They understand that everyone is worthy of love, but from my perspective, from where I’ve stood for over 50 years, I am only worthy of love if I have recently taken action that netted successful results. Yeah. I know. That doesn’t sound like love.

True love is unconditional. Yes. I’ve heard that and I feel that way toward my partner and kids, but apparently, at an early age, I was taught to self-judge my worthiness of love. At least that’s what I came up with during a morning walk with Janet and our dog.

I had just remarked to Janet about how I’ve been feeling more love for myself, when I caught the internal backlash.

Some part of me said, “Well, what have you accomplished to deserve that?”

Holy shit! I heard it so clearly. This shameful sentiment has always been there, but because of the emotional work I’ve done lately, things that used to feel like hidden imperatives, like internal pushes, like unspoken directives, have become uncloaked, they’ve stepped out of the fog and spoken clearly, allowing me to identify them, to discern the good from the bad, the old tape from the new, the angel from the devil.

And here was the little devil himself claiming that love had to be earned.

I have to say that this feels just like what has been recently happening in our country. More and more people have been stepping out of the murky fog, into plain sight and speaking their anti-love sentiments. I didn’t intend to comment on our country, but perhaps this is why many of us are triggered.

Listening to people speak so strongly from such negative viewpoints forcibly reveals our own love-less internal voices, and it hurts like hell.

So, how did I combat my internal bad guy this time? I told Janet what he said so we could discuss it. This removed the power of secrecy and allowed for healthy analysis of the misinformation.

I also realized that there is no need to fight because I am in charge. I created the voice of the bad guy to keep myself in check. It’s up to me to recognize that his trophy-based love system is self-defeating, and banish him from my mind. Well, that sounds dramatic. I’m sure his death will be more like an old habit: He’ll slowly die.

Plus, because I have recently become very aware of my self-love moments, I have a newfound confidence that I’ll soon be able to consistently feel love for myself. Just like a 5-year-old, I have to gain experience in order to have knowledge of self-love. I believe that the more I have experienced loving myself, the easier it will be for me to reach out and experience it again.

So, thank you uncloaked bad guy. I see you and hear you and I will appreciate you even as you fade away, for your uncloaking has ushered in a new era for me, an era in which I love myself. And I will accomplish more than I ever have in the presence of Love.

An Unexpected Connection

Nine years ago, when I started attending Al-Anon meetings, I discovered that songwriting was part of my spirituality. Up to that point I had believed there was a higher power that held everything in the Universe together but I didn’t feel I had a connection to it. It didn’t feel personal.

Obviously, my guides helped me choose a sponsor because he turned out to be a musician too. When I told him about my feelings of being disconnected from this “God” that was spoken of in the meetings, he told me I already had a connection, and it was through songwriting.

His insight blew my mind, and he was right! When I write songs I go into this meditative zone and receive creative ideas as well as a feeling of serenity and grounding. My creativity, including art and photography, was my natural method of connecting to my higher self, my guides, and my muses. I had been allowing spirit to move through me since I was old enough to hold a pencil and undoubtedly had done it with just my imagination as an infant.

With music, writing songs isn’t the only way I feel connected to Spirit. I have that connection when I perform them as well. Fireflies is a song that especially locks me in when I sing it.

I wrote it in my twenties during a difficult period and then forgot about it. I rediscovered Fireflies a couple of months ago when I stumbled across a box of old cassette tape recordings.

Songs can change meanings for me as time goes by and Fireflies has done just that. It’s now a reminder that my personal adversity will pass leaving me with a beautiful new perspective. (Lyrics below.)

What do you do for your spiritual connection? I’d love to hear from you.


Don’t mind dark minds

Winds come

Blow it all behind

When we look back

We’ll wonder why

We braced for storm’s attack


We want fireflies

A slow breeze

Chasing yellow lights

Open our jars

With brave smiles

It’s okay where we are


Racing river

Bending trees

Rapid skies

Oh help us please

Fight upstream

Rain-soaked clothes

We search for shelter

In shallow shoals


We find quiet minds

On low limbs

Inviting us to climb

Over river’s bank

With broad-water smiles

And the wind to thank



Healing My Son

A few days ago, I healed my teenage son! He woke up with what seemed to be a stomach bug and spent much of the morning in the bathroom moaning and crying from very painful intestinal cramps. He’s a pretty tough kid, so I was very concerned.

My partner, Janet, suggested I administer Reiki, a healing modality, on my son’s gut. She had attuned me to Reiki I about a year ago, which allows me to use it to heal. My son agreed, and so I had him sit down while I placed my hands about two inches over his abdomen.

Although I know Reiki works from experiencing a few healings from Janet, I can’t say I had great confidence in my own ability to heal with Reiki. I had tried it on myself a few times but wasn’t convinced of the improvement, but now I was on the spot. My son was depending on me to reduce his pain, so I kept at it with determination.

I could feel my hands slightly buzzing and I felt the heat coming from his gut. It was super hot. I noticed that he seemed to relax a bit when I got started, maybe from emotionally handing the reigns to me.

I oscillated my state of consciousness between active determination, during which I imagined pushing energy into him, and meditation, in which I asked for his spirit guides and angels to help while I became a conduit, letting the Reiki do it’s thing.

After a few minutes, Janet asked if I wanted a “boost” which is exactly what you would think it would be. Usually this would require me stopping the healing while she gave me the boost, but I didn’t want to stop because my son was starting to get some relief from the pain. So Janet went in the next room and did her thing, sending the boost remotely. Almost immediately my hands tingled even more. I was feeling the boost! So cool.

Within 10 to 15 minutes my son became very sleepy. He was so tired that he had to struggle to tell me that the pain had gone completely away! I covered him with a blanket and he fell asleep.

I can’t tell you how thankful I was that he was pain free. I was amazed that I have the ability to help him. I still am.

Later that day and the next morning he had more bouts of pain as his body struggled to rid itself of the virus. Both of the times I applied Reiki the pain went away and he became very sleepy. Awesome stuff!

I’m guessing that from now on my teenager will ask for Reiki for other ailments and lesser bouts of pain, and I’ll be happy to help him. I’m cool with being his walking first aid kit! I’m loving Reiki.



Click here for more information on Janet's Reiki training.