TAM said someone’s name in passing the other day; a name I’ve said myself at least 5,000 times, but when he said it, I shook and snotted and sunk.
My reaction was so strong that I couldn’t rein it in. I crawled into bed and cried for two solid days. To be honest, a couple of weeks later I’m still not quite back to okay.
I understand that part of my reaction was because I don’t want my old world showing up in my new world. And in a town this size, just like Mr. Prine told us, there is nowhere to hide.
There are many overlaps that I have had to navigate – from friends on facebook, to co-workers, to shared social activism. I have managed to weave these bits and pieces into the background of my psyche – not allowing them to get me riled. Some of the connections have actually been blessings in disguise – offering opportunities for healing and reconnection.
Who knows why this one conversation, which was really about nothing except for a pair of children’s snow boots, should set me off the way that it did. But it did.
And the outcome…
HDD, get your ass into therapy.
For like, the 53rd time.
On a recent visit to my canyon refuge, an old friend declared, quite enthusiastically “I love EMDR!”
So maybe I will too.
It has taken me some time to find a therapist who, practices in Colorado, does EMDR, works on Zoom, is affordable, a woman, and normal.
I had one conversation where I dumped it all only to have the therapist on the other end of the phone refer me elsewhere. That was rough, and rather unprofessional if you ask me.
It certainly made me more anxious about doing it again.
But yesterday, I did. I am determined to get some help. I have an amazing community of friends but it’s not support that I so deperately need – it’s full on HELP.
I need fixing.
I sat on TAM’s bed for my first Zoom therapy seesion. I’ve barely used Zoom – maybe twice, so my inexperience and lack of knowhow added to the angst. So did staring at my own face for an hour.
All I could think was, “My eyelids are really droopy.”
She was great. Perfect as a matter of fact. Showed up in a fleece jacket and jeans, not feathers and flowing scarves and crystals. I thought that I could be friends with her in another reality.
We talked about everything but. We discussed my health and my family relationships and the pandemic. I was doing okay leading up to the real reason that I was there. As we got closer, though, my fingers began to tingle and my armpits began to pour liquid in a steady stream down my sides. Each breath got more shallow and my ability to pay attention to her was weakening.
And there were my fucking eyelids.
Honestly, just writing about this is making me shake.
One more indicator that in therapy is exactly where I need to be.
We got to the point where we’d discussed everything but IT, so it was time.
I am sweating and my eyes are welling up right now.
I gave her a bullet list of the key events that took place in that three-week stretch three years ago. Then there is a sublist of all that happened in the aftermath of those three weeks that I also shared. I left much out because we only had an hour – not a hundred hours.
I told her that I feel as if there is a dark, goopy, tangled ball of shit stuck inside of me that I can’t manage to shed.
After naming it all and hyperventilating in the process and telling her that I beat myself up for letting everything still have so much power over me, she got to speak.
“You never had the time or space to process any of these events. Everything still strikes you as freshly and painfully as when it happened.”
Then she said, without me having referenced the incident with TAM at all, “Sometimes even the mention of a name can trigger a devastating reaction.”
Yeah, I burst into tears again at that moment.
She said, “We can deconstruct this. We can take out the charge, the sting. You will still have painful memories, but they will be just that. Not triggers that send you into a tailspin.”
Tears are flowing down my face.
Can I really get some relief?
Is it really possible that my reactions, my feelings, my pain, are understandble, explainable, and not a sign of my weakness? Am I hanging onto this because I haven’t had the opportunity to heal, not because I am a puss?
Do I get to drop my feelings of shame around my continued grief?
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Was it really that much, that bad?
I think I really periodically need the reaction of “Oh holy shit” to remind me that it really was horrible and too much for anyone.
It validates me. And it makes me so sad.
In all of my perseverating and reliving and breaking down, I have come to see that there are mulitple layers to my grief.
As there usually are.
I am so pained and angry about what happened to me.
But on a deeper level, I need to grieve what happend to me.
I functioned; I worked, I moved. I supported my son through his post accident trials. I shoveled snow and camped on the slickrock. But I was on auto-pilot. I did what needed to be done to not completely evaporate into nothingness. I couldn’t vanish because my children were also going through the shit – I needed to be there for them.
But I wasn’t here. I was shattered into a million little pieces. I felt no stability within myself. My world was small and dark and confining and excruciating.
I can barely write right now.
I have been so hard on myself for letting it all affect me still. I feel as if I continue to give the negative all of the power rather than reveling in the goodness that is my life now. I despise when my past impacts my interactions with TAM and my interactions with my entire home town.
I hate that I have trouble trusting my child again. Or anyone else for that matter.
I have been trying to muscle my way through all of this and brute strength has proven to NOT be the answer.
This woman, this therapist, made it okay that today, I have all of those feelings still. And, she reassured me that I can get some relief.
She didn’t get off the call as soon as I told her about my innermost demons.
There is hope that the charge will be taken out of the picture – that names and places and dates and any other connections will no longer be triggers that send me into a panicked tizzy that leaves me in tears under my pink comforter hugging on my sweet little dog scarfing down massive amounts of chocolate.
I’ve never done EMDR but I understand that it is super effective in dealing with trauma so I am holding out a lot of hope, although not expecting miracles.
Step one, accepting that yes, I suffered trauma.
Step two, stop beating myself up for still suffering.
Step three, move through it.
I’ve stopped crying. Now I need food.