I had an interesting session of EMDR today and I thought it would be best to document it. I am currently fighting the voice in my head that says, "It will do no good to document this because you rarely read your own writings." However, I do not celebrate my victories. Successes? It is difficult to label those things that work for me because I fear it was a fluke. A one-time bit of luck is not success or a victory. It is a fortunate accident. Thus, I want to sit down and write this out to build that neural pathway of recognizing success.
On more than one occasion in the last year I have met other Chrises during EMDR. I have relived childhood memories and recent events during the therapy. Sometimes the me that is writing this will appear in the memory to comfort a younger me. I have even seen the younger me pop into a recent memory to ask me questions and support me.
There is some fear and anxiety around sharing this. I do not want to sound like a kook or new age star child. Of course, this is a legitimate strategy used in some therapies. Doctors have scanned brains as people recall trauma and the parts of their brains that light up are the same that show when people are in actual distress. Effectively, people's bodies are experiencing the event as if it is happening. That can feel overwhelming to those of us who experience trauma. Therefore, some therapists suggest that we replay memories like a movie or a slideshow. We are instructed to observe the memory, but try not to relive it.
The first time I met myself in EMDR, I was there to console a confused 7 year old. That younger version of me felt alone and ashamed. Adults were mad and younger Chris had no one to turn to. So, he turned on himself. If the adults were disappointed in him, then he would also be angry and disappointed at himself. With nowhere to turn, I could not shake the real emotions of that little guy during the memory. Suddenly, this adult me was there parenting that 7 year old. Explaining the actions of the adults was little help. A promise to be there for him and a hug, even though imaginary in my therapy, relieved a lot of tension in my body.
Today, I was dealing with recent trauma. I was looking at my poor behavior and it was tied to the suicidal breakdown that brought me to the hospital. I've likely told the story of being turned away from overworked mental health programs here on my blog. After hitting a few walls, I called my therapist and got an answering machine. That was it. Proof that I was not important. My fears were not just in my head. It was all true. Then, I received a call from my general practitioner. (Likely my therapist listened to the message and alerted the GP.) That reality check brought hope. I made it through another couple days.
During EMDR, I kept latching onto that call from the GP. The tension in my body would go down, but not completely disappear. My psychiatrist asked me what the tension might be. After another set of eye movement, I realized I was ashamed. I had once again turned on myself. Why would anyone want to be with a broken person like me? I wouldn't want to be with me. I couldn't handle a previous relationship where the person was depressed. I ran. I could not handle my mother's depression. I sought escape. Now, the GP had shown me compassion and my wife was still by my side. I went from being confused by their behavior to using the past to shame myself.
Then, I found the others.
I kept coming back to the call from the GP because it relieved tension in my body. However, the shame was still there. I needed someone to be there for me that I could always count on. I wanted to ensure that I would never be alone. The only way I have done this in the past is by being a "yes person." Desperate for affection from others because I cannot provide it to myself. Suddenly during therapy, I was there. I was standing next that me on the phone. I was crying those sort of sad/happy tears. As I tried to hold onto that feeling younger Chrises entered the room. All of us were scared. We were not sure this would work. My default is shame. If my EMDR appointment ends and my partner and I have a miscommunication will I just go back to the default? We were afraid of the unknown. I was comfortable with the familiar pain of shame. So, I was holding onto that tension because what if?
They kept coming, the younger Chrises. My body got lighter as years of armor slowly unraveled. I feel lighter, but the work is not done. It's a cliche, but my time was up for that appointment.
I will work more on this next week's appointment. Things may process on their own, or things might get worse in the mean time. However, today that sad/happy bunch of Chrises brought me to a better place. I hope that this process of loving myself continues to grow.