Trauma Therapy Session 21 EMDR. When the world needs you to hide the darkness

I have to admit this post is well out of sync. This session happened weeks ago now and I have just failed to be able to write about it. I would tell myself I was busy but I know in reality it was just bloody hard.

This session was about EMDR and “the box”. The box is something I’ve described to Chris for months. At first I only mentioned it to inform him we would not be going there. I was sign posting it was totally off limits. For a few sporadic sessions at the start I would get really uncomfortable if any reference was made to the box. I refused to go near it. Even Chris mentioning the box would send my body immediately into fight or flight. I could feel my muscles tense and my chest tighten.

The box has long been a thing in my head a way to compact and lock away some of the worst of my experiences. The things I have limited capacity to process or ability to absorb. The box holds many memories not just one, but they are all memories of a certain category. All memories related to sexual abuse.

Do you know even writing that word feels like an accomplishment for me. I guess the talking about it out loud in the car on my own is helping a little (Another of Chris’s tips). I wish I could do it justice describing what it is like to have to carry that knowledge. You know with every part of your being it is not something which should exist in the world. It is an action which sits beyond the realm of wrong. Something which breaks every trust we have in humanity. And yet you know it’s real. You know it exists. You know the details of those unspoken things. You can’t avoid it, you can’t deny it. (Well at least trying is fairly ineffective). When this topic comes up with others they often shut it down. No one wants to go near it. And yet when you have experienced it there is no option to shut it down. So you carry it alone. Unable to share the burden and unable to put it down.

Everyone around you recoils at the thought. You quickly build a sense that the rejection is aimed at you. I mean you carry this knowledge. You hold the weight of never talking about the unspoken. You know the world does not want it to be true and you start to believe yourself perhaps if I don’t talk about it it won’t be true. It does not work though. Although I must admit my box has saved me from the worst of it and it is stronger than ever now or perhaps the things it contains are less aggressive.

Getting closer to the unspeakable…

With Chris’s help over the months I have referenced the box more and more. And with the powerful sledge hammer which is EMDR now in my tool belt I wanted to try and tackle it.

At the start of previous EMDR sessions we had started with a description of a memory. For this one we actually started with a description of the box. I described the castle, with the dungeon, with the crypt, with the well, with the safe at the bottom with a box inside. A simple cardboard cube. Shut with brown tape and inconspicuous in its design. The belief we shaped which I wanted to have was that I deserved this wonderful life and to be loved. The belief I didn’t want to have was along the lines of I caused it.

We started the process of tapping and concentrating on the box. For a couple of rounds of tapping I felt sick and struggled to orientate myself. This process felt a lot more fluid, I can only describe it as swirly. It felt like I was either falling down the rabbit hole or trying to work against something. I eventually landed on a memory which appeared to be the crux of the session for me. This was not a memory I was expecting at least not the point in time I had landed on. The memory I recalled was…

It got tricky, I did not want to go there I was pulled back like being on one of those fair rides where they strap you into a bungee rope and tell you to run in the opposite direction.

I tried to explain to Chris that I couldn’t do it. It felt like walking into a dark woods alone. I could see the path in front of me but I didn’t want to take it. Everything was telling me to turn around and run. I didn’t want to discover the inevitable danger which lay ahead. It felt almost foolish to consider the route. I knew I might get stuck somewhere.

Chris stepped in. I can’t remember exactly how he introduced the idea but he asked if I could take someone with me who would it be. Any fictional or real person. I landed on Captain Picard. Chris enquired why. “Because he is calm is a difficult situation and can see things for multiple angles.” “Perfect” I conjured up an image of Picard and off I went into the darken woods. Picard trailing behind me.

I met the memory again. The memory was of an occasion where the abuse had already happened. It was not of the abuse itself. I was led on the floor a mess, broken and so upset. The kind of upset where no noise comes out. The kind where the tears don’t fall they flow like a river. The kind where you just feel empty. Hollow to the world. I led there on that horrid old carpet and I wished the world would take me. I wished that it would all stop. So I grasped on to the last drop of belief and I channeled it into a wish, a want that the next breath would be my last. With every exhale I willed it. I didn’t have the energy. I couldn’t get up to move forward. I led on that floor and I asked the universe to end it all, to end me. I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to live, not like that. Afraid of what was coming next. Spent and lost to a world which never saw me and couldn’t save me. Nor could I save myself. In that moment I wanted to die.

Chris asked me to describe what the feeling was and I was stuck I felt tongue tied. I uttered words but failed to coherently explain. Time was getting on and much as Chris wanted to nudge me to the conclusion he knew we would not reach it. Not today.

Gratefully Chris helped me to pack away the box. To lock it back up, to lower it into the well. The room was still and quiet again and I left the box there silently buried. (I even decided to leave Picard behind to guard it). It felt rather satisfying to have implemented additional defences, safe guards to contain all that crap.

We concluded the session reflecting on the positive steps I had taken to get that far and even though I had not reached that point in EMDR of conclusion. That elixir of belief shifting transformation. I felt ok and that was enough for me.

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