A little over ten years ago, I had my first experience with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing ( EMDR ). I couldn’t get past my mother’s death and the trauma that came with being the one who had to tell the doctor that my mother wouldn’t want to be on life support. She had made that clear. Dad and my Aunt couldn’t say it out loud. The thought broke my Dad of seeing his wife at the end. He couldn’t find the words. I get it, and I stepped up. Afterward, my Aunt made her thoughts on it known. She told me that she felt like I had killed my mother. When we scattered her ashes in the desert that Mamma loved so much, my aunt told me that she’d felt like I had THROWN MAMMA AWAY.
It stuck with me for a long time, and I couldn’t even think about those last moments with Mamma without breaking down in tears and feeling a weight of tremendous guilt.
My therapist suggested EMDR. It worked. It took me to a place of understanding that my actions were NOTHING to feel guilty over. In rejecting life support, I was doing what Mamma wanted by not allowing her to linger in that state. The session helped.
Fast forward to 2018-19, I was having a hard time with some trauma from my past, and my therapist recommended EMDR. I was game, as I knew how it had helped me in the past.
The funny thing is I went into therapy that day with a memory and the trauma that had been an issue, this time, it was more profound than my first experience with EMDR. An early childhood trauma that I had only a faint memory remained. I saw it for what it was and processed it as if I was watching the event rather than reliving it. It helped me tremendously, as I was able to put myself into the position of an observer rather than a participant.
It helped me move past a lot of trauma from my past.
Recently, I spoke to my therapist about trying to reach some positive memories through EMDR and bring out some details. I had expected it to be much like the first experience, but I couldn’t focus on one event. It was like an old photo album, just flipping the images through. I wasn’t able to grasp any one moment for very long. It was like a ton of good memories just poured over my brain. It has been several weeks since that session, and I am still processing it.
I am not sure if being back in the chaos that is Las Vegas, the EMDR session, or it is one of those things I go through – but the processing this time is strange to me. Not at all what I anticipated. The first few days after my dreams were soothing. There was one where Mamma was being taken advantage of by relatives, and I stood up for her. Protecting her was the whole theme of the dream. Then I dreamt of Korkie. She was lying the grass at the house in Virginia trying to sleep in the sun, and a dragonfly repeatedly landed on her ears and nose. She would twitch, and it would fly off for just a second and land again. I woke up smiling, because as you may understand – it was good to see her after so many years without her by my side.
But this time, I have been having nightmares. Something that hasn’t been a problem for me in a while. The other night I screamed out in my sleep. I can’t remember the dreams when I wake up, and there is only a sensation of abandonment, fight, or flight situations. I am having trouble sleeping, and the good memories are still flipping by in my head.
I am aware that processing is different for every session, and everyone processes differently. Of course, YMMV, but I benefitted from EMDR.