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Doc@DrIrene.com


 

Good News Follow-up: EMDR

"Do not rely completely on any other human being, however 
dear. We meet all of life's greatest tests alone." -Agnes McPhail

September 28, 2000

Dear Dr. Irene,

I would like to share my experience and healing since I left my abusive boyfriend.  I have gone from being an angry victim to feeling, for the first time in my adult life, like a whole and valuable person.  My experience with my abuser is detailed in 2 previous posts in the advice column "Has He Really Changed?" and "My Covert Abuse Experience".

We made a clean break 3 months ago.  I did a lot of self-care, reading and meditation to help myself heal and grow from the experience.  Then 6 weeks ago I was blown away by additional information.  I received an  e-mail from a woman he had been working with, and developing a relationship with, over the past year!  Then the next day, my son told me about an incident that occurred 3 years ago in the shower at the gym.  He had been too embarrassed to tell me about it.

My world turned upside down.  I was so nauseated I couldn't eat and so upset I couldn't sleep.  I was so angry, I thought I would explode.  I started meeting with my wonderful therapist again, and she recommended I try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).  I shopped around and found a therapist I connected with.  I could hardly wait to get started because the pain seemed unbearable.

Here are a couple sites about EMDR: Thanks!

http://www.emdr.com/

http://www.attach.org/emdr.htm

EMDR is a therapy that has been used with trauma clients - abuse, disasters, PTSD, or people who want to increase self-esteem, get over a phobia...

The initial work was to set up images and places I could go in my mind - a safe place, an image of strength, a peaceful place... I chose positive messages I wanted to believe about myself that countered the negative beliefs I had accumulated.  We decided what recent upsetting event I wanted to start with and the emotions that went with that event/image.  I started with an image of my bf turning his back on me.  I felt betrayed, hurt and angry.  I felt I was stupid for trusting him and that I couldn't trust myself, or protect myself or my son.

When the session started I put on earphones and there were short tones that alternated in my right and left ear.  For short periods, about 1 minute each, she had me go to the starting spot and let my mind go with the image and the feelings.  Then she would stop and ask me where I was.  This repeated over and over.

I went to many places and feelings.  I went to one event about 15 years ago when I had been raped.  It was very scary, my heart was racing, I was crying and I felt the emotions of being there.  Then I went to my "safe place" to re-group and calm down.  Here I could access the feelings and thoughts I had from that event and talk about them in a safe place.  Then the reprocessing let me take that event and heal those feelings and negative messages I took about myself.  Afterwards, when I thought about that traumatic event, I could remember the event and the feelings, but the burden of the guilt and negative messages were gone.  The negative messages were beginning to be replaced by positive messages.  Instead of thinking I was stupid for putting myself in that situation and blaming myself, now I believe I didn't deserve to be hurt, I can trust my instincts and therefore protect myself in the future. I like this. From my cognitive-behavioral perspective, you were systematically trained to kick yourself out of a yukky place and go to a place where you could deal with the content that was no longer a real danger.

At each session I tackle more negative messages and beliefs about myself.  As I break down those negative beliefs, and the memories that supported them, I begin to heal.  When I no longer believe I am unworthy, stupid and weak, I am not longer vulnerable to the abuser.  If I believe I am strong, smart and worthy, then when someone tries to make me feel otherwise, I know they are wrong and it doesn't make me doubt myself.  Now I can move forward making healthy decisions and creating the life I want. 

It has been a truly healing and empowering experience.  I feel a huge weight has been lifted and I feel a different level of understanding.  This is helping me process events more quickly and bring them full circle to a healing place.  I am no longer the angry victim.  The truth is that I am lovable, worthy and I didn't deserve to be hurt.  Now I believe the truth - I am worthy of love, respect and peace.

Thank you Dr. Irene for providing this site as a safe place for people to talk, share and learn.  Bless you, SK

And thank you for telling us about your EMDR experience. I think I'm going to look into it more closely...   Best wishes for continued success, Dr. Irene

Material posted here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos   Copyright© 2000. The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at Doc@drirene.com

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