A week after my disappointing non-EMDR session with Elaine, I’m back in her office. I tell her how frustrated and confused and, well, hopeless, I felt when I left last week. She responds with empathy, but sticks by her assertion that it’s not helpful to plow forward with eye movements unless the different parts are on board with the plan.
“How’s the little girl doing now?” she asks me.
“Ever since last week, she’s been quiet,” I say. “I get the sense she doesn’t want to talk to me. Her door is closed. Maybe she’s mad, perhaps because I didn’t come and take care of her when she needed it.”
Elaine agrees that is one possibility, but maybe there are others. She checks in for a bit to see how I’m doing and whether I feel like exploring what might be going on for her and other parts. I’m no longer triggered the way I was last week, and even though I originally thought being triggered meant I would have easier access to my parts, Elaine says it’s actually better not to be so agitated. She assures me we’ll still be able to find them.
“Shall we try it?” Elaine asks me.
“Yes,” I nod. After all, what do I have to lose?
So Elaine asks me to settle into myself and go back into the internal house where my parts, my emotions, my younger wounded selves all live. Elaine doesn’t know this house that well, but I do. It has a large meadow on one side, and faces the Pacific ocean on the other. It has a large, open living room with huge windows facing out toward the ocean. It is enormous, at least three stories, with several wings. In each wing, there are long hallways with multiple doors, each leading to a room that houses a part. It’s so much more convenient than my real home. For example, new rooms can pop up or disappear or be remodeled in a second. Also, it’s self-cleaning.
Last week, we left a very young wounded part of me in one of those rooms. I gave her a big, gorgeous, cushy bed, with stuffed animals, one of which is a unicorn with a pink, gold and bluemane. And I left her with her favorite babysitter, who is actually a teen part of me that needs a new role in my house.
Today, Elaine asks me to relax and, if it’s okay, close my eyes. Then I can take myself to that room to see the little girl. I breathe slowly and try to take my time. No rush, I tell myself. Let’s see what I really feel.
After a bit, I tell her, “The door is closed. The babysitter says that the girl still doesn’t want to see me.”
“Okay,” Elaine says. “What is the obstacle that is blocking your connection, can you tell?”
I resist my urge to say, “I don’t know, for god’s sake.” Instead, I let a lot of time go by, breathing slowly, trying not to think too much and just letting whatever wants to come, come.
“I think it’s Productivity, or Achievement, some part like that,” I say. “There’s a worker part who wants to get things done, who has some ambition, who wants to move forward in her life. And she is resentful that this little one acts up. She has acted up so many times, derailing the productive part, making her sick. She is tired of dealing with the girl.”
Elaine validates that emotion. Of course it’s frustrating. It’s not really fair. But do I think it might be in Productivity’s interest to do some healing with the girl? Maybe that would allow Productivity to be more effective?
Yes, that seems so obvious to me, and I guess to that part, because she almost melts away. Then I see Doubt is there, too, but she is quiet–none of her typical ruckus.
“She’s just observing today?” Elaine asks.
“Yes, for now,” I say. And I wait a bit. I notice that the door is cracked open a little bit. Now I can look into the room, and I see the girl sitting at a small table, coloring. She doesn’t look at me, doesn’t even seem to notice that I am there. Or perhaps she’s intentionally ignoring me; I’m not sure.
“What do you feel about this little girl?” Elaine asks me.
I pause a long time. I don’t know. What do I feel? “I guess, I want her to be well.”
“That’s a nice thought,” she notes, with warmth in her voice. “What feelings do you have toward her?”
“Um, I don’t, well, I guess, kindness.”
“Okay, kindness,” she echoes.
“Maybe also curiosity, compassion, care,” I say.
“Okay, great. Let her feel that. See if she can really soak that in.”
I imagine the kind, compassionate, curious caring emotions swirling around in light, sparkly colors, wrapping around the girl like a gentle blanket.
“How is that for her?” Elaine asks.
“Good, I think. She, um, I think she wants care, tenderness.”
“Okay. And what does that bring up in you?”
This time my silence extends for a minute or two. There are multiple things going on at the same time, and it takes me a while to figure that out. “I think I feel confused. I feel some maternal feelings toward her, like I want to help. But I also feel this resistance. Like, is this my job? Isn’t there a mom here? Why am I supposed to do this? I think my mom is supposed to be providing that care and tenderness.”
“Ah, of course. And can you acknowledge and validate the part that says that?”
Internally, I do that. I say, internally, or maybe out loud, I can see you are so frustrated that your mom isn’t taking care of her. You really wish she would rescue that girl. It’s not fair that she didn’t. And it’s sad and kind of lonely that you have to rescue her yourself. I repeat that in my head a couple of times. It feels like all of this is happening very, very slowly.
Elaine asks, “So what do you feel now?”
“I feel more maternal, more ready to support the girl,” I say, noticing even as I say it how surprising a shift that is.
“How do you want to support her?”
“I can rock her in the rocking chair with a soft blanket,” I realize. And in my mind, I do that. Of course, poof, there is a very comfortable rocker and the softest blanket imaginable right there. I scoop up the girl, who comes willingly into my lap, and I start to rock her. She holds the blanket and the unicorn close.
“How does that feel, for you, the adult part of you?”
“More relaxed, I guess. I feel, um, it’s like a loosening in my throat and maybe in my chest.”
“That’s lovely. Just go ahead and rock with her.”
So I do this, but very quickly everything changes in my head. Instead of seeing the cozy room with the rocker, I see a woman being attacked, assaulted. It’s not a little girl being attacked. A face is turned away. A body is on a bed. Some of it is in black and white.
I have literally no idea what these images are or why they are popping up, but I tell Elaine they are there.
“That’s good,” Elain says. “It says she is trusting you. She wants to show you something. But we are running out of time, so can you get her to hold that until next week?”
A sinking feeling. I don’t know if that is me, or the girl. Maybe the girl thinks I won’t come back. Maybe I am afraid I won’t get the chance to figure out what this is.
Elaine sees I’m not happy to tuck this all away. “You can tell her, you can promise her, that we want to know whatever she wants to share. You can promise her from you and also from me. And you can leave that maternal part there, rocking her, caring for her. We’ll be back to work on this.”
So in this way, I leave that room, the rocker, the blanket, and the girl. I come back to the room and open my eyes.
Looking back now, days later, I think that was very, very strange and other-worldly. It was playing with a fantasy, composing a movie in my head–but it felt so real. And oddly, it felt restorative. Even though I didn’t want to stop without figuring more things out, overall I felt calm and centered. I’m curious, and thankfully, not afraid about what comes next.
CREDIT: Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash