Part IV: My Post-EMDR Walk Today
Karen explained that we’d begun the reprocessing process, the R in EMDR. When successful, the emotional charge to untreated trauma is removed, allowing the survivor to heal. That day was to be the first of several EMDR sessions, conducted over the course of several months. During those late morning sessions, I went back decades to describe events that never should have been, or at least, never should have been witnessed by a child.
While I couldn’t go back and get me the hell out of that house I grew up in, I could — and did — seek treatment for the trauma. After a few months of transformative EMDR sessions with Karen, I got my career back on track and walked into successes greater than I’d previously imagined possible.
There’s one caveat of sorts to my successes with EMDR. Karen cautioned me that, if the sessions “took,” I would find myself more connected to my emotions than I’d ever been. The little boy version of me had never been allowed to cry, but as a healed — or healing — adult, I’d cry at the drop of a hat, the sight of a puppy, or a sad movie.
I’d never been terribly demonstrative as an adult, and I learned that that, too, had been a coping mechanism. If I didn’t allow myself to feel, I didn’t have to…feel, and wouldn’t be paralyzed by the experience. With the sources of my trauma exposed and the figurative cancers removed, I’d experience life much more richly.
And boy, was Karen right about that! Today, I tear up watching ASPCA commercials on TV, scream out loud riding roller coasters, and a good rom-com will take me out! My kids and I have developed a shorthand for my emotional jags: one of us will make reference to an “allergy attack” when I’m ready to tear up.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’d also encourage anyone who has been the victim of trauma to consider EMDR. It wasn’t the easiest process I’ve been through — in some ways, a root canal was easier! — but nothing has been more effective in delivering me from anxiety, depression, and the effects of ACEs.
By Michael P Coleman, Content Director, Brother Be Well