Thursday, February 7, 2013

Freedom, EMDR And The Bloody Nightgown

I feel free.
Free of what? Not one bad memory, but the FEELING of that bad memory.
I just did my first EMDR (Eye movement desensitization reprogramming) session yesterday and I am still floored.
It is hard to believe that such an incredibly BAD memory, a memory that I always equated with the first time I was beaten, feeling like I had lost my childhood innocence and that any curiosity I had or things I had questions about was to be squelched, not encouraged.
I would never get my innocence back. I would be beaten over and over again, with no relief in sight, no one to believe me, no one to trust.
Or so I thought.
And yet NOW I am learning things. Things I told myself over and over again as a child, that they were ALL WRONG. That I was NOT stupid.
 I was a worthwhile person, worthy of their love even when I never got it.
Yesterday we started on EMDR with one of the beatings I had as a child, but not the worst one, just the first one I remember. I think remembering it that moment was when I felt I lost my innocence.
When I was 9 I remember I had a nightgown that I loved. It was silky and pretty and pink.  Everything a 9 year old girl is into.
Pretty, sparkly things.  Pink nail gloss and glitter and fingernail polish…lipstick, however put on (Usually in a giant mess on your face) My little pony and Barbie
Which brings up a memory of how badly I wanted a Barbie.
One Christmas morning I ripped open a package soooo excited  to find an ugly  DARCY doll, even though one or more of my sisters got Barbie’s, Kens, and a carriage and horse…AND a on top of that they got a BIG Barbie house… I used to go and play with everything when they were gone because they would never let me play with it when they were there. Funny what the mind remembers…I always got the stuff no one wanted. The throw away crap, just like me.) And even as I write this, I don’t feel it. Not much.
But I got my favorite nightgown that same Christmas....It was the only Christmas present that I really loved.
I used to have a room in one of the downstairs bedrooms with a sister... it was easier for me to escape when there was a beating coming because there was a door that went outside not too far away.
Later, my parents put me upstairs in what I thought was the prettiest room in the house. It used to have paneling but they painted the paneling 3 different shades of blue. My favorite color.
What I really hated is that they could hear everything that I was doing because my parent’s room was right next to mine. They heard everything. 

What control freaks. 

Especially when I was really hungry and snuck out the door to get something from the fridge because damn the consequences, I was HUNGRY! (The rule was we couldn’t eat after 10 pm and couldn’t eat breakfast after 10 am. To think back now that I got beaten up and nearly killed for being hungry is ridiculous.)
I remember one night I was standing in the hallway next to my bedroom saying something to my father and all I can see in my head now as I talk about it is him coming at me…
Terrified I ran to my bed, pulled my knees up to my chest under my nightgown, and tried to disappear as he punched me squarely in the nose (He always hit me in the nose), over and over, my blood spattering all over the walls of my pretty blue room.
They even made me clean up the room afterword’s.
It’s as if they made me clean it up to show me I was the problem.
Even though my father made the mess, I was made to clean it up because it was as if they were trying to say “YOU did this”. “YOU are the problem, so YOU will clean it up”.
Have the child he beat clean up his mess, focus on the child that YOU beat on so often so no one will look the abuser in the eye.
NO ONE sees the real problem.  
HE should have cleaned up the mess, not me.
 I’m sure I brought up that point, if I was brave enough. I was probably too terrified to say so. But none the less, I had to clean my own blood up off the wall, reliving it AGAIN and I’m sure, sobbing in my bloody nightgown as I cleaned up the mess that HE made.
Fear had been my ally for years, or so I thought. Keeping me safe, keeping me anchored.
My mother made us so scared as kids of everything.  She told us so many things that we were always afraid.
This so called anchor I’ve had in my life called fear is what has kept me paralyzed when things have frightened me, and it’s acted as a familiar face, but NOT a friend.  It hasn’t kept me grounded. It hasn’t been the truth.
It’s held me underwater for so long, chained to the ground where I’ve been clawing my way to the top, held in place, paralyzed, scared to move forward.
But now, I AM MOVING FORWARD, NOT back.
So here we go.
EMDR (Eye movement desensitization re-progrogramming.)
They have found that people who have had major trauma in their lives don’t have normal R.E.M. sleep patterns.  The traumatic memory, which instead of being in the right part of the brain, is in the “fight or flight” part of the brain. What that does is make the person who has had the trauma re- live it every single time they talk about it. It is emotion ripped wide open.
EVERY time.  
It is as if they are in that moment every time they talk about it.
Somehow, through the process of EMDR, it takes that memory, and puts it back where it belongs, not in the present, but in the PAST, where it belongs in that library that is the mind.
The process changes everything.
I went into my counselor’s office that day we planned to do EMDR a little fearful of what I might encounter, or what I might do.
My counselor brought in the machine, and as I looked at it, I was thinking, how can a machine help you work through your issues? Its just machinery.
As she turned it on, it went back and forth across the screen with little green slashes. You follow your eyes with it. Simple…as long as you focus.
She asked me from 1 to 10 how bad the feeling was about me and the nightgown incident, being beaten up, blood going everywhere.
 I said a 7.
When she had me look on a paper on different feelings, the feeling I got was that I was treated like a worthless, stupid kid.
So, she told me to focus on whatever my brain wanted to tell me, and not over analyze the feelings.
So I tried hard to focus, and just let my brain do the talking.  The worthless and stupid though kept popping into my head, like a freaking record player stuck in place… then the thought “no, NO! They are NOT right”! Kept popping into my head.
When she stopped the machine it went from the slashes to three triangular dots.
Then she asked me to tell her where I felt it- my stomach and heart…interesting.
Then she started up the machine again, and the thought was that” if they would have left me alone I would have been happier”.
“But then when they left me alone I felt lonely”.
“If they did talk to me, they did as if I was stupid. It felt unbearable. It didn’t have to be that way”.
Then she stopped the machine to the 3 dots.  The area I felt in in next was my heart. Like a big hole in my heart, empty, sad kid.
But then, all of a sudden,  I didn’t feel it much anymore. How could I not feel it much anymore???
She turned the machine on again…and my brain just kept sending me messages…
“I am worthy, don’t listen to them”.
Then this awful voice that seemed to overpower the ALL thoughts in my head…”NO YOUR NOT, YOUR STUPID”! and then a really strange thing…”Go away”! (I’ve been trying to figure that one out...and a silly thought popped into my head...Gollum, GOLLUM;p Go away, and NEVER come back...lol. I think I have seen "Lord Of The Rings" one too many times:p)
She stopped the machine-Again, I felt it in my heart…interesting, the things our heart tries to tell us.
Then she started up machine again and this incredible sense of wellbeing hit me-
“I’m ok, I'm past this”. I felt like crying (like my mind was validating me…)
Then  I felt  it in my throat…That’s where my counselor said, Your mind needs to tell you more; that’s why it’s up in your throat…there’s more that needs to be said…
So she started it up again
One of the last thoughts that my mind gave me was this.
 “It’s a a part of my past- it does NOT make me who I am”.
“You’re ok now”.” “I love you”
That inner God given conscience is the only truth… TELLING you the truth- Telling you that you are a part of everything and everything is a part of you. 
That you are loved.
Unconditionally, unequivocally, warts and all, just how you are…LOVED.
Despite all the negative messages from my family over so many years, my mind fought with everything it had to give me the message that I’m ok…
She then said again to just let my brain tell me what it needed to one last time…
The last thought  before all the pain from this experience went away was the thought “Fear, worry, hope, understanding.
 Its OVER.”
 Once you do EMDR, it’s as if the situation you went through is covered in a kind of a fog, underwater, you can never see it quite so clearly ever again, but yet can talk about it more rationally, thinking about it and seeing it with new eyes. When the counselor told me that afterword’s people explain seeing a traumatic experience like it was  underwater.
 I actually saw ripple (like ripples in water) in the picture I had in my head of that beating…strange.
Again, from what I understand now, the memory goes from the fight or flight part of the brain, to the part of the brain where it belongs, in the “library”.
Again, from the present, to the past where it belongs
All through the day, I kept trying to bring up the feelings I  had before…and at last I finally started laughing out loud, just incredulous that FINALLY, thankfully, unbelievably, after all these years
The feelings about that beating…They are GONE.
 It’s FINALLY GONE.
I had such a hard time believing that is gone.   I had to say it out loud.
IT’S GONE!!
It felt so good to say it out loud that I had to say it again, terrified that the feeling might come back.
But it didn’t.
And in its place is a kind of chill. When it’s the strongest I feel it in my heart. The only way I can describe this chill is, when  someone says something that just reaches out, grabs me and touches me to the core,  that tells me I am a part of something greater, something BIGGER than myself.   I feel this tremendous love.
That the kind of chill it is.
The other day I was at my counselors, and she asked me what I believe about God. I told her all the amazing things in my life that have happened, from my near death experience, to looking at a website when we were looking for a house KNOWING which house would be ours before we even went to look at it and looking up at the sky and saying “Really God”? This beautiful house is for ME”? To the tailor made trail behind my house that seems (again) to be made just for me (I used to get in car to go to places like this to walk on in the morning) But for ME??
My counselor said “I think that the only way I can think of to describe to you what you are feeling is that you are “surprised by God”.
Yeah, surprise fits.
 I would have never believed that I would be surprised by God as a child curled up in a ball waiting for release, thinking I would die.
I think if we all knew how many times we have been protected from things unknown and unseen, we would all be surprised to know that all along he has had our back.
Thank you God.

No comments:

Post a Comment