I didn’t write about EMDR yesterday because I didn’t go. I am ashamed of not going. I wasn’t raised to run away from a fight. It felt like cowardice, but I just couldn’t make myself do it.
Last week the session felt brutal. When I recounted it to J, she used the term ‘harrowing’, and that was exactly right. It was a horrible experience and left me feeling shattered, broken. All the old emotions that came up didn’t just dissipate at the end of the session. They clung to me, a heavy, cloying mist of shame, fear and guilt that I couldn’t shake off.
In addition to all the old stuff that came up, I started feeling angry again. Anger is a very unsafe emotion for me. It’s got this energy I can’t figure out what to do with. It is impossible to just sit with it. Therapists have made all kinds of suggestions, from throwing eggs to punching pillows. But what I want when I am angry is automatic. I want pain. I crave the release in physically harming myself. I need that buzz to shift what I’m feeling into something different.
What’s the anger about? Mostly it isn’t directed at my abuser. In the scenario I was working through last week, it was at my parents. I felt the excruciating sense of abandonment and shame I had when my mum walked in on my brother abusing me. She sent him away and asked me to get dressed and go downstairs. Her and my dad handled the situation so badly. They questioned me on what he had done, then took me out on a day trip to London. The last thing I needed was a day wandering around a busy city full of strangers. I should’ve been cuddled up safely at home. Everything felt terrifying.
On that day, there was a specific time frame I recalled so clearly; the time my mum left the room and I was alone. It felt like my whole world had ended, this awful, seismic thing had happened and nothing would be the same again. I was terrified that my parents knowing what had happened would mean they couldn’t love me anymore. I was convinced they would be so disgusted with me that I would forever be tainted and dirty to them. To some extent I still carry that thought today.
The emotions from my last EMDR session settled down later last week and I managed to have an OK weekend. But on Sunday night I started to panic about going back there. I ended up having to medicate myself to prevent a full blown panic attack ,or the dissociation I could feel coming on. I know it is fruitless to open up all this stuff and then U-turn on the whole thing, but I really couldn’t make myself do it.
Now that J is on holiday for two weeks, I have decided to put a pause on EMDR until she returns. I don’t want to risk feeling like I did last week and not having her support to get me through it. It remains to be seen whether I can really go back again after the break, but hopefully with some time to relax and replenish I will have the resources to do battle with those memories once again.
Photo: Jessica Fiess-Hill, Creative Commons.