As many of you know, I’ve been doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with a skilled therapist. (To learn about two of my earlier sessions, see my previous posts from Oct. 11, 2014 “EMDR Works!” and Oct. 25, 2014 “Skipping Along with EMDR.” ) This week, we worked on a somatic issue–a freeze that I often unconsciously find myself in: one of guarding– holding my breath, contracting muscles, and feeling numb. I may simply be reading a book or lying in bed and discover that I’ve assumed this body state and posture.
In EMDR therapy, I began by tensing into and holding my guard posture, then watched the pointer with the red, clown-nose tip go back and forth. I followed the wand left to right with my eyes, feeling great discomfort; emotions shifted as my eyes shifted. One understanding that came out of this session was that after my pyloric stenosis surgery for a stomach blockage at twenty-six days old, I found a degree of homeostasis while in recovery. I was terrified but figured out a way to cope with the pain. I breathed shallowly in a kind of idle, on-hold state and was not on guard. I was able to somatically or physically feel this state again through the therapy.
Another understanding I gained is about my relationship with my mother. When the thought of reuniting with her was introduced into the session, I felt anxious and lost my idle, on-hold state; I became anxious and guarded again. During the actual crisis, my mother was scared to death, of course, about what was happening to me, but also her own early traumas were restimulated. Without meaning to, she communicated, her terror and horror at my condition after the surgery and her anxiety from her own past physical abuse. While my mother was key in taking care of me once I got home, for which I am forever grateful, it was hard to get emotional comfort from her. In the session, I was able to feel this disconnect in my body.
This morning in meditation, this image and these words came to me as I pondered my session. EMDR is about somatically feeling one’s way to knowing.