Visualizing the Trauma


I have said that I will write openly and honestly about the EMDR process, but this last session has really tested my resolve.

Lori had me visualize specific instances of trauma that I can remember, and then describe not only the picture I see, but the feelings and thoughts associated with those traumas. This was, without a doubt, the hardest session I have had so far. I didn’t want to write about it because I didn’t want to face what I remember, but I know that I will only get out of this what I put into it, so here goes.

A low wooden desk, plastic and metal chairs around it. I’m looking down at my lap. I can see my bright pink sweatpants with the white cord and the desk is covering part of my knees. I was wearing sweatpants because I had learned that he couldn’t get his hand under the elastic, so he would stay out of my pants. I can feel his hand on my right arm, going up the sleeve of my t-shirt. I feel alone, trapped, isolated. No one can help me. I feel dirty and guilty. Ashamed. I know I am surrounded by people, but I know–without a doubt–that I am completely alone.

I walk into a classroom. I see the kids across the room and am looking forward to talking to them. I see them look up, see me, and then pointedly look away. It happens over and over. I don’t know what’s wrong. I think there must be some mistake. Some misunderstanding. I see sneers and haughty looks. I hear that they believe him, not me. I think this can’t be real. It can’t be real. I feel alone, betrayed, shunned, rejected. I want to cry but don’t want to give them another reason to hate me.

Eating lunch in the cafeteria. The green tables with the little round stools. One blonde little girl, Rachel, is showing her friends a game. She used to be my best friend, now she leads the other kids in teasing me. But then she turns to me and wants to show me the game. Is it over? Are they taking me back? Finally, finally, are things back to normal? She has a little pat of butter in her hand, the kind that comes between two pieces of paper. She sprinkled salt on it while telling me some story about a crocodile and saying how the salt on the butter feels exactly like crocodile skin. She holds it out to me to touch. I’m wary and hesitant, still not sure if things are truly back to normal. I reach out my hand to feel the ‘crocodile’, like the other little girl, Jessie, did just a minute ago, and she smears the butter all over my hand and arm. The girls laugh and tears burn in my eyes. I’m humiliated and betrayed. I don’t understand why.

I lag behind the kids in the lunch line so they won’t tease me as much. I get my lunch very last and only have a few minutes to eat my hotdog before we go out to recess. It’s a really hot day and when we line up to go inside I end up leaning against the wall and throwing up my hotdog, which was still in chunks because I had to eat so quickly. The entire playground can see and they all start making fun of me and calling me gross and disgusting. I feel humiliated as well as sick and start to cry.

Fifth grade, our classroom is crammed with thirty desks. His is just a few over from mine, and that makes me extremely nervous. The lunch sign-up list is being passed around, and we are supposed to circle which option we want, but he won’t hand it to me. He keeps saying I should just tell him what I want and he will mark it for me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t trust him. I don’t know whether to get the teacher, or just tell him what I want. I have this feeling he is going to play a trick on me and I wonder if I should tell him the meal I don’t want in the hopes that he marks down the other meal. I finally end up telling him the meal I want and he makes a big deal of marking the paper before passing it on. When I get to lunch I find out that he did indeed mark the meal I didn’t ask for, and it was something I didn’t like. I sit by myself and pick at my food trying not to cry.

It’s fifth grade and I’m looking through my desk trying to find something. My teacher is yelling, telling me to hurry up, and I’m getting nervous. I can’t find it, and the whole class is watching and tittering behind their hands. The teacher keeps saying things like “hurry up” and “you’re holding up the whole class”. I finally realize that I’m not going to find it and my eyes fill with tears. My teacher sees this and in front of the whole class says “Oh great, and now you’re going to be a cry baby about it.” Everyone laughs. I feel humiliated, weak, alone. I can’t stop the tears, but I hate them.

Junior high on a bus. Sitting near the back, trying to ignore the kids around me. They’re bouncing in their seats trying to make the whole bus bounce. One boy, DJ, who is always mean to me is trying to get me to bounce too, because I am the only one not bouncing. I don’t want to, thinking it will be just another excuse for the kids to make fun of my weight. He keeps saying that he wants everyone to do it and I finally give in and bounce a little. As soon as I do, he does this exaggerated fall and says “Woah, I really felt it when Laura did it! She made the whole bus move by herself!” I felt stupid for trusting him, for thinking he was being sincere, that he wanted me to be a part of their game. I’m humiliated, self-conscious, and embarrassed.

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One thought on “Visualizing the Trauma

  1. With every word you knock him down a little further, off the mountain of fear and shame he built in you. I’m proud of you for doing the hard work and taking back your power. It is not easy. It is not fair. It is brave and wonderful.

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