Yesterday morning I rode in a convertible in a ticker tape parade down Fifth Avenue. I was a baby, naked from the waist up, pumping my fists into the air. Ticker tape, streamers, confetti, and popcorn rained down. I was a success and the world was acknowledging that I had not only survived infant stomach surgery without anesthesia but also triumphed by recovering completely. Victorious, I struggled through isolation and unimaginable pain and discomfort. The world celebrated my accomplishment and supported me to feel the greatest joy of my life.
Later that same hour in EMDR therapy after the ticker tape parade, my mother and I charged on horses out of a fort and across the grasslands, our banners streaming behind us–warriors ready to battle the world of NO HELP. We’d confront society with its profound lack of understanding of parents and children who’ve survived infant surgery without anesthesia or pain control. My mother and I took up arms and rode together to spread awareness about the plight of these babies and their families. No longer could society be inept and heartless, dismissive and apathetic. No longer could they ignore us, ill treat us, or misunderstand us. No more avoid us and misrepresent us. Families would no longer implode from stress. Together, my mother and I would change the world!
These are the images that emerged in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). They appeared in my experience spontaneously as I confronted old terror, loss, helplessness, excruciating pain, numbness, and immobilization, watching the wand travel back and forth, left to right and back again. The wonderful thing though about EMDR is that I don’t stay stuck in the past pain. Focusing on a trigger, an inner movie starts and my imagination actively reprocesses past experience. I move quickly through many emotional and body states. My brain wiring changes; as a result, my body unfreezes and opens to new patterns.
The night of EMDR therapy, I sleep a lot. It’s exhausting racing across the plains and confronting society in every town and city in America. It’s emotionally draining to receive all the love and adoration in one fell swoop–an hour’s ride down Fifth Avenue–that one never received after surviving a cut in the gut at 26 days old without pain relief. My mind and heart are astounded by the amount of life relived in such a short session and the immense psychic distances traveled.
Rest is welcome. Dreams of empowerment emerge in which, in one scenario, my screams for help cause an attacker to back off in shame as others look on and another in which an enormous, dark-haired man crashes my party and when I confront him, he gives me good news: I can attend an important conference I hadn’t been able to afford.
When I wake, I’m not quite sure who I am. But when I sit in meditation, I am given this word–autonomous.