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EMDR = Freedom after Trauma

I am!  I am!  That’s the feeling I left with after my latest EMDR session.

As I sat watching the magic wand with the little red clown nose at the tip swish back and forth, like a windshield wiper, scenes flashed through my mind, accompanied by these words: Look at my colored pencil drawings! Look at my paint-by-number paintings! Look at my multi-colored plastic peg creations! Look at me roller skate! Look at me dive into the river!  Look at me catch a fish! Look at me racing up and down the block with my best friend Irene! I am! I am!

I actually did all these activities as a child but never shared my joy or happiness, never verbally expressed my thrill about my achievements.  Self-deprecation was my byline. Showing enthusiasm was bragging and impolite. I lacked a feeling that I was valuable and valued. I was a burden, a failure, a disappointment to my parents, for I was very sick shortly after I was born.  These are the feelings that arise from trauma. When one is trapped, tortured, and helpless to free oneself, one enters the kingdom of post-traumatic stress. One does not show off. One hides.

How did I come to the I AM feeling of the EMDR session? By moving through feelings of absolute contraction. By sinking into the protective pose my body learned to assume without my conscious or subconscious knowing. My right shoulder automatically folds over my chest (the incision was made to the right of my belly button and up, just under my breast) and goes rigid, my breath shallow; and I mean shallow. Rigidity, lack of movement, and freeze are key. If I don’t hold myself in this grip, I will die–that’s what my body believed until age 26.

Little by little, EMDR unfreezes the locked up body-terror of not only intubation at 26 days old (the shoving of a breathing tube down my throat) and then stomach surgery without anesthesia (a scalpel cutting through skin, muscle, and the pyloric part of my stomach itself), but also the  body’s knowing that if I cried or coughed, my stitches could burst and I would die. My mother’s hands and face taught me these truths, trying to save me.

“I am!” I shared with my therapist in our talks between wandings, throwing my arms up in the air, “I am!” “Let’s fix that one,” my therapist said excitedly (“fix” as in set or emphasize). She picked up her wand and began, the red ball at its tip moving back and forth.  Delicious images of me feeling agency, excitement, joy, and thrill flashed into my brain. I am, I am, I am!

I am more of me.