I have to admit, I feel particularly vulnerable as we get into the EMDR to post about it here. I have many friends who are of an alternative mindset and who are more open to the ethereal and the discovery of inner self. Those are people with whom I am anxious and eager to share my spiritual journey. I also realize there are many people out there, like myself frankly, who have a healthy dose of skepticism for anything that can't be concretely nailed down and who see those who practice or believe in things that can't be proven as being rather hokey. There are going to be times I don't want to share what happened in my sessions and I hope that all who read here can be respectful of that. I hope too that when I do choose to share, that those who read can do so with respect for the difficulty of the pathy my life has taken in regards to my grief. I think I definitely put myself out there as an emotional exhibitionist and that its pretty natural to see that as "normal" for me and to have come to expect it. It IS normal for me. But even with the little bit that was done yesterday I can see where I may want to avoid both the vulnerability of full disclosure but also avoid reliving what happened. I can also see where I will want to share at times what went on, mainly in hopes that the other parents who have experienced loss as I have can maybe read here and garner some tidbits of hope or healing as they come to me.
Apparently there are three different types of EMDR that can be done. The first one the therapist usually engages in called "Safe Place", and this is what we did yesterday. I do not remember what the other two are called yet, but I will get there eventually and likely share that as it comes about.
Basically the closest I can come to relaying what we did yesterday is to liken it to a guided meditation, which I have only done once in my life before. The saving grace for me in this is that there is actually a goal, one that is not suspicious nor kept in secret, known only to the therapist. We establish the goal together, Jordan and I. The goal of "safe place" is to carve out a well grounded place to go in my head at the end of EMDR sessions, which can be traumatic and emotional to do, so that when I leave at the end of my sessions I leave in a state of calm and with a feeling of safety. Considering that was one of my concerns going in yesterday, I was happy to know we were going to do this. It is all we did yesterday and it alone was intense.
My biggest struggle in any of this is the feeling of exposure, vulnerability, the struggle to silence my desire both to "do it right" and to not look stupid or hokey. I have a deep fear of appearing weak, helpless, vulnerable or deluded. Getting past that alone has been a challenge for me. I like facts. I like the concrete. I like solid things. The ethereal is a bit too gossamer for my exacting mind. This is, I recognize, probably one of the areas in which I am going to have the greatest growth and which I hope will lead me to a greater sense of inner peace. I am a thinker and problem solver by nature and definitely not trusting of anything I cannot easily follow a logic pathway for. It is likely one of the reasons I did so well, at least on the outside, through Joseph's death. Though I didn't like anything the medical industry had to say about Joseph's condition, odds or declining health by the time the end came, I could understand how it all came about. It made sense and even within the horror that was the particular truth of Joseph's apparent fate there was the odd, dark comfort of it at least being a condition my logical mind could trace and understand, at least on the medical level. I knew his body was failing. I understood the mechanism of his cancer. I understood what the ventilator did to his lungs. I understood why they would not function anymore off the machines. I understood the importance of honoring Joseph's wish not to continue on life support if life could not be regained. Logic carried me through it, but the moment of his death was the moment logic failed me. I have never understood, even with all the medical knowledge, WHY he had to die. Where he has gone. What I am supposed to do now. Why he had to suffer. Why the definition of suffering had to be put so concretely into my head through images of my own child's body and psyche grasping futilely for solace that I could not give, that would not, would never come to him. Logic can make no light of these things, and you must believe me, that if there cannot be some light somehow cast upon both the memories and the feelings that come from those images, I will never have peace and will slowly corrode inwardly until I no longer care if there is any way out of the internal darkness of it, until I cease to be who I am, until I become someone different, changed in a way that makes a monster of the pure. I still believe in my purity of spirit. I stand wide-eyed at the precipice of hope, afraid to trust it. Hope failed me in so many ways. But what else is there when one gets to this point?
If thinking could have healed me, I would have been healed by now. Thinking was not, is not enough. So I seek out that which I do not trust, understand or even really believe in, hoping I will find some other pathway to inner peace. I hope even the most scientific minded of you can respect my journey on some level. After all, I had to believe the science at some point. Even if I cannot pinpoint the mechanisms of why it makes me feel better, I can watch and feel the changes those mechanisms make in me.
So. Back to yesterday. Jordan guided me through the creation of a mental "safe place", done with light weight headphones on my head that played soothing sounds, alternating rapidly between one ear and the other. Eventually I tuned this out and became unaware of the shifting of it, though he tells me it was that way the whole time. He impresses me in that he openly admits they do not exactly know how or why the EMDR works, only that the vast majority of the time that it does. "I don't know" is an honest answer, an answer I can respect.
I had trouble at first with feeling extremely exposed. Jordan is very serene. I am learning that the mellow, slow way that he speaks is actually an indication of a very relaxed and accepting state on his part. We are developing a good rapport and he smiles easily, which I like. After our session yesterday I feel safer with him, affectionate, perhaps even a little bit protected. It was a giant leap on my part to give in and let myself do this exercise with him. He seems very invested in my situation and compassionate. He seems to feel a large amount of faith that this could be a doorway out of mental anguish for me. There are times when I can literally feel his sense of inner fulfillment in helping me. Last night it was profound, as we finished up and he walked me to the door. He is doing this because he believes in it. What is interesting is that he was an engineer in earlier years. He has reinvented himself many times, another fact that I can respect.
So basically he asked me if I am a mountain person or a beach person. That made me smile...it really does seem most people have a strong affinity for either one or the other. I am more of a beach person and said so, though I love both. So we went with that, calling up that image. The sounds in my ears were of water running, trickling really, though as I sank deeper into my mental image I easily turned that trickling sound into the warm rumble of surf. Don't ask me how, I really don't know. Every 30 seconds or so he would slow and the stop the sounds and ask me to describe what I saw and what I feel. He guided me into becoming aware of my physical body even as I pictured this vivid mental picture...apparently some people have trouble with the mental picture, but I am imaginative and creative and this was easy for me. I walked on the surf, felt the bubbling of foam around my ankles, felt the heat of sun on my shoulders. I was on Myrtle Beach, the moody gray ocean Joe took me to in the summer of 2004, and I was walking far along the sand, past the hotels and developments. When I grew lonely in that walk, my mind put a warm hand in my own, though it seemed unattached to any particular person. Mostly I thought of Joe, but that idea came and went and I let it without struggle. Jordan helped me feel the heaviness of my limbs, the way my body actually forgot to breathe for a moment before switching into the subconscious level of breathing that comes with surrendering to sleep...deep, belly breaths that felt so good. Literally my limbs began to tingle with a sense of letting down, letting go. I could feel the weight of them pulled toward earth, sinking me into the couch. It was warm, heavy and so intense, to feel my mind let go to this degree that tears were pouring proliferative down my face. I was not crying in any sense of sadness. It was relief. Relief to let go for a while. I had no idea how badly I needed to relax on a true physical level as well as mental. Jordan put tissues in my hands. I have no idea if he understood it or if that was a strange reaction to the depth of that meditation. I feel sheepish about it now. I didn't weep, I just leaked. It started very quickly after we started the meditation and continued all the way through it until we were done.
He encouraged me to practice going to that place on my own through the week, that the more I do it, the better I will get at voluntarily calling up a place of peace and serenity in my mind that also manifests in my body. It was interesting in that last night we learned about the parasympathetic nervous system, and that in essense, doing what I did with Jordan yesterday was basically learning to override the parasympathetic response to stress. He told me that some people actually have things come attack them in their vision when they are doing it, that some people, especially at first, have trouble staying with a peaceful mindset and are tormented by "foes" even in the midst of trying to establish this "safe place". He stated that with all I have been through, that I was able to stay within the safe place on the first try meant I have a very strong ego. I will have to look up what that means, as I am pretty sure it is a psychology term rather than a term meaning what it usually means to say someone has a big ego.
This feels like a lot of rambling. I am going to go ahead and post this without reading over it..its probably more honest that way. All I can say is, despite my skepticism, my body responded to what we did yesterday. Tears flowed out of me like a river and we didn't even talk about Joseph at all. But most importantly, I left feeling like something was set loose a little bit, that the world was a little bit lighter on my shoulders. A little bit greater sense of inner clarity. Not much. But perceptible.