Category Archives: EMDR

EMDR success

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Wow.  My first session of EMDR with my new therapist was fantastic.  Intense and exhausting, but really interesting.  And successful. 

She had a process that was quite a bit different than the ways I have done it before with other therapists.  So if you’ve tried it or are thinking about it, ask about how it’s done.  Of course, I’m not sure I could have chosen one that I liked the best until doing them all. 

I picked a target, a memory/moment that really affects me.  The further back, the better since it can be connected to the newer memories.  For me, my targets this time will be memories with the guy from high school and some major moments in my marriage that contribute to my struggles with not feeling good enough, not being worthy of healthy, equal, and supportive love.  

She had me sit forward on my chair which was new for me.  She talked about how this position engages the core and why that is important.  It really did make a big difference from sitting relaxed. 

Once I had my target for the session and I was sitting forward, we talked about the negative feelings and beliefs connected to it.  She had me focus on different areas of the room and think about the negative memory.  This was amazing because that memory was more or less horrible depending on where I focused my eyes.  One area is normally the “worst” for a person and it was clear which area this memory was stuck.  So that becomes my area of focus.  

So I’ve got my target and I’ve got my area I will be focusing my eyes.  Now I’ve got headphones on which will be on for periods of time while I focus my eyes and think about the memory.  The headphones vary, some therapists use tones and this was a combination of music and tones.  It was really good. 

People get hung up here thinking they will have to voice details of horrible memories and that’s the greatest part about EMDR.  I never said a word.  Just focused my eyes and thought about it.  I’m told to think about how it makes me feel, think about how my body is feeling while thinking about it, and just let it happen.  

I’m sure the experience is different for everyone, but for me this was a very powerful session.  Quick too.  As I thought about it, I had a lot of physical symptoms and some that I don’t mind sharing.  With this specific moment/memory, I got hot in my chest and physically shook.  Then I felt this heavy weight and the strangest pain in my knees.  And as we worked through the negative, she starts to ask what “that girl” needs.  

That’s when I realized right where The Girl in the Corner came from…that exact moment.  I could see it so clearly as the very moment I started to accept abuse.  I fought through the urge to stop and go home and we decided what the girl needed.  I breathed in those things that were needed and exhaled the ick.  Specific words were exhaled.  Specific words inhaled.  And the pain moved up and out my body.  I could feel it. 

Powerful, awesome things happened for me.  I lost the view of the room even though my eyes remained opened and focused on my spot.  It was dark around me and I released and released that moment and that weight like the loud, single clap of hands. 

Woah.  It was really crazy. 

To end a session of EMDR, you always want to try and be relaxed.  As relaxed as possible anyway.  And I felt exhausted.  She reminded me that my brain would continue to process and that I would likely be very tired.  I was.  I still am. 

We checked in with that memory, and I was ok.  Thinking about it now, I experience none of those negative physical symptoms. 

Amazing. 

Goodbye traumatic moment.  I will not miss you hurting me. 

I cannot wait to go back and work with the other targets I will choose.  Really excited for this final stage of my healing. 

I AM good enough. 

KK

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EMDR: round 2

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I’ve committed to doing some EMDR again.  And the first session is Wednesday.  I’m nervous.  Because I can’t stop myself from feeling like I do it wrong.  

That’s ridiculous, of course, you can’t really do it wrong, but that is how I feel. 

I told this therapist up front that I need to be pushed so I don’t avoid things.  Why did I say that??  It’s true, and I’m mostly glad I told her so that I don’t avoid things and not face the things I most need to work through this time.

It’s mucking up my whole week though because I’m nervous and so my body is responding poorly to everything I do that is not laying in bed.  I know I’ll get through it, and I’m hoping it will go really well. 

Therapy this time is really different.  I was better prepared up front to say why I am there and what I like and don’t like.  Being able to voice what my biggest challenges are as a person feels really good.  It marks growth and I’m loving that.  I think this time I’m better equipped to work on what is still stuck.  Especially because I can tell in my daily life what is certainly not stuck anymore.  

I had zero physical reaction to talking about some things in our introductory 2 weeks.  I was thankful for that, if a bit surprised.  Zero shaking, zero temperature change, zero inappropriate laughter!  A miracle.  Hahaha, not really, just a fabulous confirmation of how far I have come.  

The Girl in the Corner.  She’s still suffering some.  Not just from my past with the abuse, but also from my marriage and divorce.  I am sick of thinking of past abuse from high school and I am sick of thinking about that guy who walked out on me.  He’s so not worth the head space.  So I was absolutely thrilled that when I did discuss that, I had none of the physical reactions I use to have and I was able to put the blame for what he did squarely where it belongs…on him.

What bothers me now is that the abandonment seems to have transferred to my ex and in talking about him and how checked out he is from me and our child, the physical symptoms were all there.  One of the hardest parts of that is just the shock.  I didn’t expect it.  Not at all.  We were very amicably separated and even amicably divorced for quite a while.  We remained as a parenting team well into my new relationship.  I could still confide in him about parenting issues and get his input on stuff and that is just gone.  And I don’t get it.  Our state forces a parenting class on people getting divorced.  It’s good.  They make it quite clear that “divorce ends a marriage, not a family.”  But not for us.  He’s just done. 

And that makes me angry.  Bitter, as I said recently. 

Why in the hell does he not recognize what his absence is doing to our child?  

The anger makes me want to forget all the good years we had, but I won’t.  I will continue to tell my kids the good memories and the fun we had as a family.  If he wants to live like none of that ever happened, like we never should have been together, well that’s his right.  But it’s a disgusting disservice to our children.  And I guess it means it shouldn’t be any surprise to me then how they feel. 

I am really nervous about how therapy will go and how the EMDR can help me work through all that, but I know if I trust the process, it’ll happen.  And I’m so happy to be pushing myself into this round of hard work because I am ready to put my ex in the same area that the other stuff went as I worked through it all.  I’m looking forward to not being so angry about him because he doesn’t even deserve the angry energy I’m giving him. 

He won’t ever get it.  He doesn’t even want to try and understand. 

And my kids will still be ok.  I have had some of the greatest conversations with my kids in the last few years.  Ones where we can be completely honest and sad or angry and still end up being so glad to have a hug and say I love you.  Conversations where we really hear each other, everyone’s opinions and feelings are respected, and we grow together to have a stronger bond. 

EMDR is so different between therapists.  And even though I’m really nervous, I’m excited to see how this therapist will work with me through the process. 

KK 

Just go with it

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Last week and over the weekend I was really stressing out about the disclosure for my group therapy.  It was like I couldn’t think of anything else.  But a friend of mine told me to stop thinking about Thursday and when it gets here just go for it.  And for some reason even though I could tell myself that, it just stuck more when the friend said it.

So I have been very busy this week and not really focused on the disclosure, which felt really great.  I went to all my favorite workout classes, got caught up at work, and continued to work with my dogs who were recently fighting a lot.  And when today came, the actual day I will be doing the disclosure, it didn’t feel so big.

I mean, I’m sure as tonight gets closer I will have more nerves than I do right now, but mostly I feel like whatever happens will be good.  Freeing.  Positive.  Necessary for healing to really move forward.

Two brave souls went first in the group.  It was tremendously cool of them to take that on and go first.  It was exhausting to be a listener of someone’s trauma.  But I’m truly thankful for them being so brave because it gave me the chance to see how the process happens.  And you know what?  It is really great.

I’m even kind of looking forward to it.  After the disclosure the group is allowed to give feedback and what could be more awesome than supportive feedback from people who have felt most, if not all, of the same feelings I have felt and continue to feel?  It is a bit crazy to think that I have been stuck with this burden for all these years and a good chunk of it could feel a lot less heavy after I make it through this day.

“Just go with it.”  That’s a phrase used often in EMDR.  When a feeling comes up or I notice something during the process, my therapy always says “just go with it.”  And then we proceed.  When EMDR starts there is a negative cognition.  I’ve listed some before, but things like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve love” would be negative cognitions.

One successful session of EMDR for me was “I am a disappointment.”  When it begins, the therapist asks how true that statement feels.  For me it was very much a real feeling at that time with some specific circumstances from my past.  So, in EMDR, there is a stimulus used such as buzzers in each hand, eye movements following a hand or light, tapping, or tones with headphones.  At the time, I used the buzzers in each hand.  So I would close my eyes and just “notice” what feelings would come up thinking about that specific situation that made me feel I was a disappointment.  After a certain amount of time, the therapist would have me open my eyes and say what I thought about, pinpointing something by saying “just go with it,” and then I would close my eyes again and the buzzers would start.  Now, I am no expert in EMDR.  So research it if you want all the specific information, but this is my experience.  It never seemed like I was doing it right.  I always felt like I would think the wrong things or not focus on the things that were necessary.  But that’s silly.  The idea is that I close my eyes, the buzzers start, and I just think about what comes to mind without judging myself for it!  In any case, I couldn’t believe that I could feel that good about a situation in only one session.  I felt released from the burden of that disappointment and truly felt that I was ok just the way I was and so I’m fine the way I am now.

I think “just go with it” and/or “just go for it” are my new buzz phrases.  I can’t wait to get the disclosure over with tonight because I feel like “going for it” is really going to get me through some of the necessary steps to move forward.  Not without my experience or my trauma, but better because of how I got through it and how I can now begin to recognize that it is a piece of me and NOT who I am.

KK