Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Broken in the right direction (EMDR therapy session)

Since my last therapy session, I have felt a little fragile. At one point I told Todd, "I think Wendy broke me."
He replied, "Yes, did she break you in the right direction though?"

I had another session today. Before I got there, I was debating what direction to take the session in. Do I need to slow down and give myself a break? Or just push forward and deal with whatever comes?

I chose to push forward. Let's just get through this as much as we can as quickly as we can (while not forcing it, because that just makes things worse.)

The memory that came up the strongest today was from about eleven years ago.
I was sitting outside the bishop's office. I felt shaky and sad and scared and ashamed. My prayer was the same as it had been for years:
Please God, make me different. Make me stop being so selfish and so needy. Make me stop wanting so much from others and help me be happy where I'm supposed to be happy.  I am fighting and working so hard to be good, but I obviously can't do it alone. Please help me be a better person. Make me different. Change me into something good.
I thought there was something wrong with me that I needed and wanted love and help. I wanted someone to care about me, and for someone to care for me. I was hurting so much, and I couldn't explain why. I felt anger and believed I shouldn't be angry - somehow I should find a way to be happy with how I was being treated. I wanted to die, but believed that was only a weakness of my spirit. If only I could be strong and willing to endure all of the pain and hardships that were my life at the time... and I wanted to be loved.

I wanted to tell the me back then what I know now, so I started talking. (I kind of love how therapy this way doesn't require me to explain anything to Wendy. She might ask questions after the fact, but she pretty much follows my lead when I feel like leading. She only offers suggestions when I feel stuck.)
"You are not selfish for wanting to be loved. You are not selfish for wanting help. You are not selfish for wanting to be treated with kindness and compassion. You are not selfish for sharing your pain or for needing someone to be there for you. You are not bad for feeling anger - anger is pretty natural and normal and wonderful in the circumstances you've been in. Your anger is telling you to make changes, and it's okay to listen. You don't have to be happy where you aren't. There is nothing wrong with you. Who you are is strong and amazing, and you can't see it yet, but you will. Right now, you're using your strength to find help. There will be people to love you and support you and help you. God isn't going to make you more good - at least not in the way you think he should. Any God that made you, made you this way. He made you with a fighter spirit and a strength that nothing can squash. It's not your fault you're hurting. It's not your fault you need help. You are not to blame, and there is nothing. NOTHING. wrong with you."
She was paying attention to my body, and the tension in my shoulders. Thinking about the memory, my reflexive left shoulder started spasming. (Somehow the muscles on my left side are attached to frozen memories. I can't explain it, it just seems to be the case.) I told her I really wanted to be loved and held, but also wanted to scream, "don't touch me".

Wendy asked if I wanted to work on this, and I said yes, so she moved to my left side.
She told me to focus on her caring energy. "I care about you. Just focus on that while I stand here next to you."

I felt a desire to run, a desire to hide, and a desire to crumble on the ground. Part of me wanted to be held, to be loved, by her in that moment, but at the same time, everything in me was screaming "no". My whole body was shaking and every muscle on my left side was so tense, it felt more like a charlie horse than just muscles tension.

I could not let her touch me. I could not let her love me. (It's not her, just her because she was the one standing there.) Then she put out her hand, as if I could take it. My mind switched immediately to trying to figure out if that's what she wanted, and if I could just do what she wanted, my anxiety would go away.

I stopped shaking. I stopped crying. Everything went numb. It's called dissociating - for me it looks like dizziness and numbness and passing out. Sometimes it still looks like seizures when it's late at night and I'm in bed. I know what it is now, and I am pretty adept at staying present through breathing and paying attention to my senses. Today was not one of those adept times. Instead, I couldn't do anything but sit down. She asked me to start focusing on what I saw, what I heard, what I felt, what I smelled (yay for horse farts being a great way to get present).

Then Violet (the horse) and I just stood together. Violet breathing on my face (thank goodness she didn't sneeze. I don't mind horse snot, just not on the face), while I rubbed her neck.

It's been a long time since I felt that kind of disconnectedness and dissociation hit me.

The moment I thought she wanted something from me, I wanted to do what she wanted. That became my focus, and then I was out of my body fast. For a split second, I believed if I could just do what she wanted, the anxiety would go away. In that same second, I felt so unsafe in my own body, I had to get out of it. I've learned to survive by doing what I think others want, and that helped in some situations. (If you're dealing with a man who will violently rape you if you fight him at all, and you can't leave the situation, it's better to let it happen without the violence. It's a damn good survival skill.) In other situations, it keeps proving NOT helpful. (If I can't trust myself to keep myself safe by standing up for myself, the world feels unsafe. I can't trust other people if I can't trust myself to set boundaries. Does that make sense? Doesn't matter. That's how it is to be me.)

I've improved, but there still seems to be that part of me that is still stuck back in the past. There's still a part of me that feels like I will be hurt if I don't figure out what is wanted of me and then do it. That same part of me also hates being used, raped, molested, etc., all while I go along with it.

Since my session, I feel tense and tired and raw. I also still feel a little broken, but I think it's broken in the right direction.

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