Back into EMDR

Posted on February 16, 2010


It’s been a minute since I’ve been here, I know. I’ve finished my book proposal, to the point where I can polish it and hopefully go to town pitching to publishers. It feels good to make this sort of progress, feels good to put my mind to something and do it. I’ve also started using Proactiv, those stupid fucking commercials finally got me and surprisingly, it’s helping. As far as the picking goes, I’ve invested in tons of clicky pens, which drive people nuts when they happen to sit next to me on the bus, and upon the advice of someone here (sorry, I forget who off the top of my head), I’ve purchased an electric bubble popper. I’m picking it up today, and will let you know how it turns out. I’m really excited for it… Really excited. Valentines day was lovely, the man hurt himself the day before in a soccer game, so I played nurse all day and tended to his leg boo boo, which is either a badly bruised bone or a hairline fracture. It’s been a good week overall, a productive week, and I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with some of the loveliest people I know in LA.

As you may know, I’ve started taking the bus around town, and I still consider myself somewhat new to the whole public transit thing so when it says the bus will be there on time, it doesn’t occur to me that it could be late. Today, I sat at the bus station, my bus was ten minutes late, which meant I’d miss my transfer, which meant I’d be late to therapy, which sucked because I was supposed to jump back into EMDR. I did a session last week, last Tuesday, sat through 45 minutes of the treatment, and I haven’t written about it yet because I’m still unsure of how I feel. Maybe writing will help me decide though, maybe putting it down here will create some clarity. Maybe not.

Last session, I sat down to work through the memory of leaving home when my parents divorced. It wasn’t the day we left, it was the nights I sat in the hotel room waiting for my mother to come home from work. I’d sit in the window sill waiting for her, the hotel was the last on the street and I’d watch cars headlights as they pulled in, my mom never came home till past 11. I’d sit with the curtains pulled around behind me so my brother and sister couldn’t see me, so they could sleep easy, not have to deal with the stress of waiting for her, but who am I to say whether or not my 13 year old mind could have prevented such feelings. I’m sure they were plenty stressed about the divorce.

I’ve always told myself that mom didn’t come home till past 11 because she had to drive us an hour out to school and an hour back, and all that driving meant that she couldn’t be home with us, couldn’t come home to protect us from our father, who at the time we were convinced was scary. As an adult, I understand and can intellectualize that he wasn’t scary, he was hurt and angry, had his children taken from him in the pitter pat of a heartbeat, and just wanted us back. My mom told me to be careful because he could find us at any moment and take us away from her. This terrified me. As I’m sure it would any teenager. So I sat in the window. I waited for mom to come home, and I waited for dad to find us. Dad never found us and by the time mom would come home I would be so upset and so angry I’d hide under my covers pretending to be asleep. There was no point in showing my pain. It couldn’t be fixed anyway.

My EMDR session last week was the first time I’ve felt empty since I started this whole recovery thing. I started working through this memory back in December, before Christmas, and due to the holidays, EMDR was put on hold. Last week we started again, and I went in with expectations, I went in ready to bawl my eyes out as I had the first time we addressed the memory, I wanted to finish working through the trauma and wrap it up with a nice little bow. Which obviously isn’t how it happens. Last week, I became so consumed by trying to remember the details, little details like the placement of the beds, whether there were two rooms in our hotel or one, the color of the drapes and the height of the counters, that I began to dissociate, felt as though I was tumbling in a washing machine head over heels, that my soul started to leave my body at one point and my hands were grabbing it by the head trying to force a oneness that only a Buddhist master can achieve. Jill had me hold a pillow so I would remain grounded, and still I felt this overwhelming sense of emptiness, a complete lack of emotions, I felt hollow. Which got me thinking….

Is that how I felt before April 6th 2009? That hollow empty feeling where it’s quiet and nothing hurts? Is that the feeling I longed for which I was convinced would ease my aching soul? Stephen Elliott’s quote regarding memories being the stories we tell ourselves which allow us to justify emotions comes up, I can’t deny the desire to control the memory by remembering every little detail because how can I justify my emotions if I can’t remember how I felt? How can I remember how I felt if I don’t remember the details of the story? Did I ever even ask my mom why she couldn’t come home at a reasonable hour and be with us? Protect us from the scary monster my father supposedly became? And if I did why can’t I remember the answer? And if I remembered the answer, would it suffice?

I told Jill all these things in my session today, about my desire to wrap the session with a beautiful bow, how I was ready for the onslaught of emotions and when I felt nothing, I resented myself for expecting to feel. She reminded me that expectations are premeditated resentments, and said perhaps that emptiness wasn’t a bad thing, perhaps I was creating space to allow the emotions the room they need and deserve. She also said it was probably frustrating because I feel like someone should have the answer. Someone should know how many rooms were in that hotel room, the layout, the bed count, I want to be able to ask my mom about the insignificant details so I can feel something significant but I can’t because she wasn’t there for me then and I feel that perhaps she may not be here for me now, regardless of whether she is or not.

The details drive me crazy. Like the details of my face when I’m an inch away from the mirror, or the line edits of my book proposal, I want them all to be perfect and beautiful. But I know they won’t be. I know in my head that I can never have things be perfect, regardless of how hard I try or how crazy I drive myself. Maybe I need to place my three feet away from the mirror rule into this situation as well. Maybe remembering the pattern on the drapes won’t help me process in EMDR. Maybe…