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Where Do I Start? EMDR Therapy

I haven't been writing because I don't know how to begin to share what I've been going through. Also, I'm hesitant because I'm not sure if I should; if these are my stories to tell. I've been conditioned to not to let people worry about me and to keep secrets for/protect those I love at all cost to me.

It's why I have always loved writing. It's easier to type than say the hard things out loud. I am more of a 'truth-teller' on the page than I am in person, and it's a relief to just be allowed to share my own thoughts without anyone correcting, interrupting, or interjecting their version of my truth. People might be surprised that I feel like I'm holding parts of me back- I've shared more in essays about my marriage, sex, parenting, and my mental health than a lot of people would be comfortable sharing about theirs. Still, there's more, and I want to lift the embargo. It's my life and my feelings and I need to take back ownership of them. Not doing so has left me pretty sick. All the self-denial and doubt has left me in chronic pain and depression.

Also, I love reading memoirs. I want to hear of other people's struggles and journeys. It's made me feel more normal and less alone. Maybe I'm allowed to memoir a bit, too.

So, here I am, trying to share me and maybe connect with you.

There are a number of external factors that have left me feeling lost and alone this year. We moved to a town we had never even visited 3 years ago, mid-pandemic. I had to virtual school my kids and then get them settled in new schools, leaving all of my friends and family in the process, and trying to start a new community. The challenges started becoming more obvious in my kid with special needs and they've since welcomed a new identity and also been diagnosed with severe anxiety and behavioral issues. It's a rare day that I'm not dealing with the school, therapists, psychiatrists, pharmacies, drama with their friends, and more. This all provokes a strong sense of failure in me, and lack of ability to fix and protect. My other kid has gone through some struggles, too, and I've found it hard not to feel inadequate in the face of those, as well.

We had to move a few months ago because we couldn't afford to live where we lived after the landlords kept raising the rent. We've been gone for months and they're still after us for thousands of dollars. The new house is cool, but it shares walls with other families, which has its downsides like noise...and in those walls there are termites. Unclear where that will lead us.

The dog had fleas. We've never dealt with fleas before but it was pretty miserable. I ran to PetCo in pajamas at 8pm one Sunday night and bought one of each item in the pest control aisle, acting like a twitchy, over-the-top Kristen Wiig character with the poor cashier.

What else? The kids broke 5 bones in 2 years. We were interviewed by a cop, sent my CPS at one point. My spouse travels internationally a few months out of the year. I've lost friends who were important to me. I finished writing my big book about grief and it took everything out of me, but no literary agents aren't interested in representing me and helping me get published (yet?). I went back to work in the OR and realize, after some time away, how toxic it is and how much I don't want to be there.

And with all this, I've been telling myself that I'm lucky, that I have no business complaining, that if I were only ______, ______, and ______ , this would be easier and things would be better. I'm privileged in a million ways and I have it so much better than __________. Also, I made my bed, now I need to lie in it. I chose to live here, to have these careers, to put my eggs in these relationship baskets, to have kids, to make these choices. I have no right to now complain about the problems I invited. I should have known better, been better.

I'm internalizing all of it, bracing for the next disaster, available for everyone, always, but brittle about it. I've lost all of my juice and neglected myself, resorting to the self-loathing/controlling place I sometimes go when I'm not in a healthy way. I have felt like no one has my back and I am responsible, and to blame, for everything that goes wrong and also, it's my problem that I feel that way.

So, a few weeks ago, the anxiety/control/fear came to a peak and I finally started sharing it, in pieces. Once the anxiety lifted a bit, the grief and sadness underneath was pervasive. Why does no one care about me? Why am I not worthy? Why is everything terrible always? Am I just bad at being a person? Have I been hexed (this is possible; I did piss off a witch and her coven a few years back- that's a whole other story). I became just barely functional. I could parent enough to keep the wee ones alive and to drag myself to and from the hospital to work. I couldn't write, and I lost all motivation to do anything but binge-watch shows (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Resident Alien, there were probably more, but I've forgotten) on my phone while playing Tetris. I couldn't focus. I wasn't really able to enjoy the long weekend I planned for the family to SoCal. I felt like I'd given up and been given up on.

So I payed a small fortune ($1800) for an intensive EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy) session. I've known people who experienced massive traumas (surviving a school shooting, sexual assault, etc) who only started healing with this therapy and I've long been curious about it. My traumas are more lower case 't' truamas, but they're there. I suspected that if I could take down some of my feelings about my feelings, I could live better. If I got to the source of why I feel the way I do about myself, maybe I could resolve the constant self-negging and be happier and more productive? Or maybe I could hate myself less for not being those things, too.

So, what was it like? The mechanics of it are simple. I did it over Zoom, so the bilateral brain stimulation was a blue dot on a screen that went back and forth in a quick rhythm and I followed with my eyes. There was an audio option, as well, with a beep bouncing in rhythm from one ear to the other. When my computer stopped working and I had to go to my phone, I did the processing by crossing my arms over my chest and tapping in a quick rhythm. She had me coloring back and forth at one point. It's all about the rhythm and stimulating both sides of the brain.

A question would be posed, like, "In the survey I had you complete and in our initial meeting, you said that you never feel worthy. Can you think of a specific moment where you didn't feel worthy? How about earlier? Can you go back to the first time you didn't feel worthy? Can you think of a time when you DID feel worthy?" Then she had me quietly go back into that memory during the ball bouncing for 30 seconds or so, and I'd come out of it and we'd talk about my feelings, insights, what I'd seen, etc.

It was fascinating, and it was hard. The worst part was going back to my awkward years of childhood (5- 15) and retrieving that gangly, sad, scared kid and giving her courage and love. I've long kept her in the dark and it was rough making friends with her. I don't cry often- in fact, I think this annoyed several of my therapists, but I definitely cried when chatting it up with ten-year-old Sarah. I realize there are things I've believed about myself forever that simply aren't true, and shame I carried that was never mine. It's heavy and I don't want it.

The session I had was an intensive, so it was over three hours. People do it in smaller, more regular chunks, too. I'm not sure if I'll do another intensive in the future, but am glad I did it. It was like 10 therapy sessions in one. I was tired, but also hopeful when it was done. I had a lot of my deep deep knowings validated and even came up with some shocking insights I'd never put together, there just waiting to come out of the shadows.

Now I've had a few days to process and I think the first gain I've had from it is that I want to have my own back. At least I can do that for me. I can stop telling myself that I'm terrible and that all of my problems in life would be better if only I were better. I'm learning to trust my insights, myself, and when things feel off, like I'm battling the thing I know to be true and the thing I feel HAS to be true for others' sake, I'm going to err on the side of my truth for the first time. I really think denying myself my reality for too long has harmed me.

I'm attempting quiet baby steps toward healing. One little day at a time. But the days seem a bit sunnier already.

(I also changed my antidepressant and asked my mommy to come hang out with me for a few days for comfort. Both those things are helping, too).


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Mary Platt
Mary Platt
Mar 18

I care about you. ;) Love you girly.

Mar 20
Replying to

Thanks, my love. Ditto.

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