Today was EMDR, and this was the first time we did the bilateral stimulation with the trauma memories. Lori had me bring up the image and feelings that I associate with the abuse–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. The phrases we had paired with that memory was “I am helpless and alone” and the phrase I want to change it to is “It’s over, I am safe now”.
Lori asked me to rate on a scale from 1 to 7 how true the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” felt. I said a 2. I knew logically that it was over, but in my heart it didn’t feel that way. Then she asked me to bring up the image and tell her on a scale of 1 to 10 how disturbing it was. Tears burned my eyes and my voice shook as I said “Ten”.
Lori started the bilateral stimulation by having me follow her pen with my eyes while she moved it horizontally at varying speeds, all while I kept the image in my head along with the phrase “It’s over and I am safe now”. Every time she stopped she asked me to tell her what impression I was getting. It could be anything, from a color, to a physical sensation, to an image. I just had to be honest. I don’t remember all of my responses, but I know some of them were ‘blurry’, clouds, and clouds with a little red kite. With each new impression, she had me focus on that impression, so it was kind of like a chain leading away from the original image. After a while she asked me to again rate how true the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” felt. This time it was at a 4. She asked me to bring up the original image of the trauma and the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” and I couldn’t find the image in my mind.
I COULDN’T FIND THE IMAGE!!!!
This is something that has haunted me for 19 years, and in the span of a half an hour, I went from crying when I thought of it, to not being able to find the image. I was completely thrown. I told Lori what I was experiencing, explaining that it was like when you are searching for a specific word and it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t reach it. She told me to close my eyes and take my time and bring up what I could of the image and when I had that paired with the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” to open my eyes and follow her pen, concentrating on those two thoughts. I did manage to find the image, but it seemed almost faded, like it was a memory, not reality. It didn’t have all the details I could see just minutes ago. I knew that there were scratches on the wooden tabletop, but I couldn’t see them. I knew my pink sweatpants had a white drawstring, but I couldn’t see it. I knew his hand was on my arm, but I couldn’t feel it. When her pen stopped, she had me take a deep breath in and out, and asked me to rate how true it felt. This time it was a 6. I told her how it felt true, but there was still this little part of me that was holding back, that wasn’t breaking through.
We repeated the exercise, and when I let out my deep breath my eyes filled with tears and I felt a huge smile on my face. It was a 7. I started laughing and crying. I am safe. I couldn’t believe I’ve never felt this way before. I AM SAFE! IT’S OVER AND I AM SAFE!!!!!! I was practically giddy. I wanted to run through the street laughing, I felt so amazing. Part of me never truly believed I would feel this way. When our session was done, Lori and I were talking and she said how she could see the joy on my face. That’s what I feel. Joy. I have a part of myself back that I never thought possible. I still don’t think it has completely sunk in. I want to run up to everyone I know and tell them how awesome of a day this is, how much I have gained. I AM SAFE!!!!!! It’s just so amazing.
When I stopped laughing and crying, Lori had me visualize the ‘safe place’ I had created in one of our earlier sessions (a forest with the sun shining through the trees) and to describe any changes I could see or feel. It looked the same, but it wasn’t. It was still a pleasant place, but it didn’t do anything special for me. It wasn’t a sanctuary, a retreat. I felt like I had outgrown it. Lori asked if a new safe place came to mind, and instantly the thought of being with Rob came to mind. I have never thought of a safe place with another person. It’s always been just me. But the thought of us together, just laughing and talking and being together made me feel amazing. I could feel myself smiling. Lori asked how that image made me feel. Loved, safe–truly safe–warm, happy, complete, whole. She asked me to assign a word to that image and feelings, and I chose Love. My safe place is now the love I share with my husband. It’s not me hiding out on my own, it’s being close and sharing my heart with the man I love. This is only the beginning of my EMDR journey, and I already feel I have been blessed beyond measure. As I am writing this I am smiling with pure joy and my eyes are filled with tears because I never thought I could feel this way. I can’t thank God enough for what He has done for me, nor can I thank all the people who have and continue to support me. I love you all.