We started with a memory, a strong memory that incited a negative emotion. I described the memory to Doc. He had me close my eyes. Travel back to that moment, back to those emotions, sit in those feelings. The tears easily came.
“How do you feel?”
“Forgotten. Not thought of. Alone.”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being perfectly fine and 10 being horrible, how do you feel?”
“Um, it’s an eight.”
“Okay. Open your eyes. Follow my fingers.”
His hand dashed back and forth in my field of vision. I tried to not concentrate too hard on his hands, just allowing my eyes to move. When the time came, he brought his hand to center, raised and lowered it. I closed my eyes again.
I was relaxed. I could feel myself sink into my seat. I let my mind be, tried to allow whatever memories to come forth.
I was at Hershey Park with my family. It was the time I got lost in the middle of the crowd. I was crying and frightened. Alone. Helpless. Powerless.
“Okay, let’s go with those emotions.”
I opened my eyes. His fingers moved in front of my sight. My gaze followed. Then came the gesture and I closed my eyes again.
Now I saw my mother coming for me, finding me at the lost child station. Riding on little kids rides even though I wasn’t a little kid. And realizing I could remember nothing else from that day except getting lost and being found. Feeling safe again.
“Okay, feeling safe.”
We repeated the pattern.
The next time I closed my eyes, I saw a beach. Hidden. Deserted. Three people. Two guys and a girl and a hidden beach. And the guys sleep with the girl, and I think that meant they cheated on their girlfriends. But I couldn’t remember the name of the movie.
“Y Tu Mama Tambien.”
I giggled at that.
Doc and I repeated the cycle over and over again for about twenty minutes. Many random memories and images floated to the top of my mind.
There was how I felt physically when I was sad: tense face, clenched teeth, the muscles in my shoulders.
Safe in my bed at night with Tessie, my night light on, and snuggled under my comforter.
Realizing how much the therapy felt like my erotic hypnosis with Gray. Different stories of others erotic hypnosis.
Back stroking through clouds.
Intricate woodwork. The back of the chair hanging on my wall.
Aunties, Uncles, and Ella. Me and them and Mom as a family, together. And then each of the three of them dying, one by one.
The insurance check after Ella passed. Ella being gone, but somehow still helping me.
Doc had me end on that imagine, those emotions. He asked me to think back on my initial memory, travel back to the place where we started, back to those emotions. And he asked me again, on a scale of 1 to 10, how I felt. I was a four.
Doc asked me to come back, opening my eyes when I was ready. I gave myself the time and space to return, opening my lids, my gaze lowered, and gradually bringing my sight and consciousness up.
Doc thought the therapy went well. He felt it was great progress that I’d gone from an 8 to a 4 in only twenty minutes of work. I acknowledged it was good, but he could see resistence in me.
“Why do you think it worked?” he asked.
“Well, you got me so relaxed, my body couldn’t tense up like it usually does when I tap into those emotions. No physical reaction, so less emotional draw.”
“I think your partially right, but it’s more than that. Your emotions around the moment aren’t as strong currently, so you physically don’t feel it like before.”
Doc gave me post therapy info about possible issues to come up. I might remember random memories. I might be overly emotional. Though the memory is lessened now, that may not last. He advised me to shower once I got home since toxins were released from my body. And he encouraged me to attend another session, sooner than our normal turn around, for more EMDR. I see him tomorrow.
In the week since our session, the inciting memory has not come back with the same force. I didn’t have any of the possible post therapy issues. I did have a moment of the emotions behind the memory occur in a similar situation, but I dealt with my feelings just fine.
I can’t deny that EMDR changed something in that moment. Whether or not it continues only time can tell.
If you’re interested in the science behind what we’re trying, here’s a link to the Wikipedia article. The short version is it helps to develop the amigdula, which handles emotional processing. The therapy has been used for soldiers in combat and post combat.
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