So, it’s been years since I’ve written regularly at Alison’s List. I know that. Which means I really can’t promise anything now. But but BUT . . . with all I’ve learned and all the ways I’ve healed during those years, I sure hope to show up here again with some frequency. Gosh I’d like to write about what we’ve been up to and were we’re headed! For now, though, I’ll honor the purpose of this website and jump right into the practical: What’s been working for me?
If I could pick only one tool from the past 18 months, hands down I’d say EMDR. That stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Have you heard of it? It’s a trauma therapy. Now wait a sec–don’t tune out yet if you think you don’t have trauma. It’s for all kinds of “stuck” things in your life, not just what you might think of as TRAUMA. Consider wounds or disappointments from your past that make you cry if you really let yourself think about them. Or maybe the things you wish you could cry about and finally let go. Or perhaps the ones you can’t bear to think about at all–and so you shut down instead. These are things EMDR can help with.
Some of what I’ve worked on using EMDR with my therapist:
- Depression and dread when getting into bed every night
- Emotional distress related to my chronic illness
- Emotional pain of watching my children suffer
- Sexual and emotional abuse
My therapist selected my nightly misery to work on first. Unlike in traditional talk therapy, we didn’t talk for weeks about this misery and all its possible causes. Instead, we spent a few minutes exploring it together, and then I kept an eye on it for a week and reported back. Then we did a 90 minute EMDR session.
At first it seemed like a miracle to get into bed and feel . . . peaceful?! Almost like living on another planet. I’d spent years and years, maybe decades, dreading bedtime because of the inevitable depression and despair I’d feel as soon as I climbed into bed.
Almost eighteen months later, I still haven’t relapsed. Not once have I felt that tangible whole-body dread in bed. Simply amazing.
I’m guessing my therapist picked that issue because she knew it would give me confidence in EMDR — besides making an immediate and substantial contribution to my quality of life. And I’m grateful, because things got gnarly in a hurry. After that we started working on the much deeper, bigger issues like chronic illness, my children’s suffering, and my history of emotional and sexual abuse. Oy.
I won’t lie. It was intense. Really intense sometimes. And yet whenever I felt like it was too much, my therapist was able to take a different tack. And I saw results. I wasn’t tackling an entire issue in a single session, but my world was shifting noticeably session by session. I’d already experienced profound emotional healing in some of these areas, thanks to years of excellent talk therapy and especially energy work, but EMDR helped peel off the next layer of the onion. Relatively speaking, it was fast too. Compared to conventional talk therapy, it was lightning speed.
Even my body seemed to respond. I could literally feel the load lifting. Following some very low lows last spring, my health started gaining traction. By the end of the year I’d made some astonishing leaps forward. I absolutely think my physical healing was related to the EMDR work. How I wish I’d had this tool back when I was suffering from excruciating pelvic floor pain!
Well, that’s all for tonight. I’m committed to early bed times, but I’ll try to be back soon with more info about my experience with EMDR. For now I can recommend EMDR Institute’s website here.