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.
7 Comments Add yours
Great job with the self-care of taking a break both Monday and while your therapist is away.
I hear you. Anger against non-abusing family members – yep. Anger causing a craving for physical pain – yep. Feeling tainted and dirty – yep. It’s all real.
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You’re back! So good to hear from you. I know you understand all of those seemingly irrational emotions and thought processes. Hope the break from blogging has been productive for you x
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I’m sorry for these things go that happened to you. Trauma is hard. Please don’t give up on yourself or your process. It’s hard. But you are worth the effort. (I’m speaking to myself here as well…)
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I see that this is an old post, but I was wondering if you tried EMDR again? I have done it, and I know how hard it can be.
Also, I have just found your blog so forgive me if I missed this, but have you been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? I believe you mentioned mania in one of your latest posts, but the word bipolar hasn’t jumped out at me anywhere.
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Hello! I didn’t try EMDR again, but I’m not ruling it out, as although it was super hard it did yield results. No I haven’t been diagnosed with bipolar (so far). I’m attempting to stay out of the medical system as much as I can, but I’m sure if I went back to it they’d maybe add more diagnoses. So far I’ve had lots of different ones; major depression, complex PTSD and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder or BPD. I think they’re just labels for symptoms and ultimately are not that helpful.
I have done EMDR as well. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was worth it. I did have to cancel and take a couple of months between sessions because of the stress it caused me. It was exhausting! But it changed my life!
The reason I asked about the bipolar is bc I noticed somewhere in your posts, you mentioned a manic episode. If a person has bipolar disorder, they can’t take antidepressants without a mood stabilizer, because the anti-d alone can trigger mania. I know this from personal experience! If you have bipolar and aren’t correctly diagnosed and given the proper medication to address both aspects of the disorder, it can cause more harm than good. I had more episodes of depression than mania, so it took a while for me to get diagnosed properly. Once we added a mood stabilizer, it was a whole different ballgame! I’m sure there are many who can function with bipolar without medication, but it’s extremely difficult. I get what you”re saying about labels, but in the case of bipolar, it is an important one if you’re going to go with meds. I hope you find a good doctor/therapist that can help. It’s not easy any way you look at it. I wish you lots of luck and peace of mind. That’s all I ever want..Peace of mind!