EMDR: I quit

I’ve not written about EMDR in a while. That’s because I quit. I threw in the towel because it was too hard. Actually, too hard is an understatement; it was horrific.

I know there was merit in it. I believe that the treatment works. After five sessions, I had noticed a reduction in flashbacks and intrusive images. And the night terrors decreased. On the whole it’s had a real and positive impact.

The problem is that I hit a roadblock. I felt like I could push through the horrible process because it seemed like it was worth it. I felt that I could achieve something by doing it.

Then I received the news that the police were dropping my case. I went into a spiral of anger and regret. My automatic response to the news was an urge to destroy everything I’ve ever tried to create. I wanted to tear up or burn my art. I wanted to delete this blog. Everything felt pointless and futile. I was overcome by a distorted belief that I should never try to achieve anything.

That meant that returning to EMDR to delve into the darkest depths of my worst memories and relive them second by second was too much for me. While I thought I might have to stand up in court and talk through those horrendous memories, I could see that reprocessing them was necessary. I wanted to be able to stand proudly and confidently tell my truth.

But the judicial system denied me that. So I cancelled EMDR. I couldn’t face it. My final session was unbearable. Dr H asked me to keep re-experiencing the memory of my mum walking in on my brother molesting me. I hated that. I hated having to put myself there, over and again. I wanted to run. I wanted to curl up on the floor in my car and cry my heart out.

Ending the treatment was the right decision. It felt like a failure; like I was running from the fight. It felt like cowardice, and I don’t believe I am really a coward. But when I had my relapse a few days later and ended up back in A&E, I could see it would have been too much for me.

I need to protect myself. I need to make tough decisions and admit when something is too big for me to manage. That is a totally new behaviour for me, but an essential one. That last overdose was a close call. My heart was erratic. If my therapist hadn’t called me I might have had a heart attack alone under that bridge. I don’t know if anyone would have found me in time. My body can’t keep handling the overdoses and alcohol binges.

I have to be careful and make sure I’m managing stress. That means admitting when I am not coping. It means overcoming my pride and my self-reliance and asking for help. And, most importantly it means accepting that I am not perfect and I am not invincible. I’m human. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. And that is absolutely OK.

 

Photo: n4i, Creative Commons.

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. Alexis Rose says:

    This was wonderfully written. Im glad you are taking good self care, knowing what helps and what triggers is huge. Take good care!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thanks. I’m doing my best!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve contemplated this type of therapy and also neuro feedback. Reading your experience is really helpful to me because what you describe is what I fear most. I don’t know if I can handle it. Or if I want to. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      I think it’s different for everyone. And it has been really helpful, it’s just a harrowing process.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You don’t have to say you’ve quit EMDR forever … you can say you’re taking a break maybe?

    Here’s a question … I beg of you not to take it the wrong way or read into too much … is it possible that there is some part of you that doesn’t want to let go of the past or is afraid of losing the past fearing that is a big part of your identity and by losing this it might mean losing yourself? Just a thought …

    AND … I have to tell you as an American, every time I read “A&E” on your posts I’m always thinking, “Oh, how lovely. She’s gone (is going) to the Arts & Entertainment dept. or whatever” … then of course, I realize, duh, she’s English (you) and that it means accidents & emergencies … had to look that one up.

    I’m really glad you didn’t give up this blog and even yourself.

    Can you answer some things about your shame for me? Are you angry and/or embarrassed and/or ashamed that you didn’t tell on your brother? Are you ashamed because you think you are dirty because of what he did to you?

    Please always know that what I think your brother did was incredibly wrong and I would love to read where your perpetrator was able to convey his own shame and sorrow for what he did. But most people won’t even apologize for minor things or fess up to much smaller stuff let alone catastrophic sexual abuse.

    Hang in there and somehow always know that you are doing the best you can at whatever moment. ❤

    Like

    1. As a woman in her sixties, I can tell you that I would have loved to let go of my past, but running from it or trying to escape it does not work.
      If you haven’t experienced the horrors of childhood sexual abuse you would not know that. One does not hang it up in a closet like a hat, the challenges from the damage done are life-long for some. They are for me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Laura Black says:

        You’re totally right. It’s not about escaping or forgetting. It’s just about making things feel more manageable.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I am terrified of EMDR. I don’t want to lose my memories or the fear associated with them. I want to remember why I got here and how important it is to keep going. You are beyond brave.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      It’s scary and hard, but it doesn’t erase memories. That isn’t at all the aim. It’s about remembering them in a different way. For me, the process enabled me to remember without feeling so much. I could see what happened, but not feel the depth and power of the emotions attached to them. There’s no therapy that will make you forget.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s what I was worried about. What if I had to appear in court for a continuance of my order and I did not act as if I were afraid? How could I be convincing if I did not feel the terror? So I don’t do it. I am afraid of not being afraid. Afraid I will lose my edge.

        Like

  5. I commend your bravery for those 5 sessions. I would not attempt such a feat. That may be all you ever need. There are many paths to health and fullness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thank you. It was worthwhile. It proved to me that I can face the horrible stuff without completely falling apart. That’s pretty powerful in itself.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. dbest1ishere says:

    Emdr is hard hard work but I have found it to help. Not having to talk about what happened makes it easier for me. I get it though its hard work

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      I’m glad it’s helpful for you. Hope you can stick at it and keep feeling the benefit.

      Like

  7. bethanyk says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My intuition told me it would be too harsh for me and your post confirmed my feelings.thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      It might not be too harsh one day. I’d say don’t totally write it off. I did get a lot from it while I was feeling strong enough to deal with the process. I just knew once I’d had a knock that it wouldn’t be manageable anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bethanyk says:

        I don’t think I am strong enough yet but one day possibly .

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Your courage to share is admirable. I’ve just begun EMDR and I’m blogging my way through the journey. I hope you’ll visit my Road of Hope and travel with me: https://emdrjourney.wordpress.com/. Blessings, healing, and peace. – Renee

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Thank you. I hope your EMDR is going well and that it’s productive for you. It did really shift some things for me. And thanks for sharing your link, I’ll check it out. Laura

      Like

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