Whenever I decide, hm, maybe this thing isn’t for me, I’m immediately hit by the thought: am I just giving up on something because it isn’t easy or quick? How can I be sure?
This is coming up for me now because I’m thinking of letting go of the EMDR therapy that I started this fall. Maybe it’s not what I need right now from therapy. Or maybe I’m just impatient? Or maybe I’m actually scared of where it might be taking me?
I wrote about several of my session earlier (you can start with the first one here). Elaine has wanted to be sure we have the agreement of all relevant parts before we do the actual eye movement work. When she told me that at first, it made good sense. But the thing is, as we met once a week in October and November, we never got to the agreement. We never started any eye movements. Instead, we just kept visiting my internal house to check in with parts that were worried about this therapy and, especially, with the small wounded child part.
Maybe it takes a few sessions to settle in. Maybe Elaine is going too slowly, too carefully. I think I carry some eternal ambivalence and doubt, and she reads that as hesitation, so she holds back. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell if the pace is right or not; I only know that it is much slower than I expected. I mean, part of the reason I decided to try EMDR in the first place was that Marie (sex therapist, remember her?) and I thought it might be a faster way to reduce the frequency with which I can get triggered about sex. This doesn’t feel fast, though.
Then there was that last session, the Thursday before Thanksgiving. I sat on Elaine’s couch as usual, cross-legged in the corner with a pillow on my lap. I closed my eyes, and she had me go back and visit my internal house and that frightened little girl again, pretty much the same type of thing we had done for the past four weeks or so. This time, what came up was rage. Or rather: RAGE! This is not an emotion I tend to know very well. But here it came, intense and hot and enormous, though I wasn’t at all clear what the anger was about. It just seemed to radiate from the little girl.
Something about the interaction made me increasingly uncomfortable. I told Elaine, “I think that is enough.” But she pushed me a bit; she said I could tolerate it and stay a little longer. I tried, and I lasted just a little longer, but then I said, “No, no, I am done!” I just opened my eyes and came out of it, instead of slowly closing up, giving the little one someone to take care of her, and promising to come back, the way we had done the other times. I felt like I tried, but I couldn’t do anymore. And I felt irritated with Elaine for not listening to me when I said it was time to stop. Admittedly, that may have just been some leftover rage I was feeling, and I directed it at the closest person.
We had only a few minutes left in the session anyway, and we did a little tapping to try to ground me and diminish the distress I was feeling. But then Elaine said, “By the way, in addition to being off the week of Christmas, I will not be working the two weeks before that. I have childcare issues, so even though it’s not what I planned or wanted, I won’t have any sessions those weeks.”
What what what what what WHAT?!?!
I start to boil inside. I’m thinking: We already miss next week because of Thanksgiving. That means we have one session on December 5 and then nothing until January, SIX WEEKS FROM NOW. How dare you? How dare you push me to open up stuff and stay longer than I want to, and then tell me that we only have 45 minutes to work on this in the next six weeks?
It felt so unsupportive–and it hit all my “you don’t care about me; I”m not important” buttons.
I’m generally quiet and polite when someone makes me angry, so I didn’t say much. I think I did say, “Wow, only one session then until January,” and she half apologized and I said goodbye and left. But in my car, I couldn’t even start driving home right away; the tumult inside me took up all my attention and energy.
I’m so mad.
I don’t like her. She doesn’t care about me at all. She doesn’t see me. She doesn’t know anything about me. She just follows her damn protocol, which matters more than I do.
I am so mad. It’s not fair. If she had fucking said at the beginning that we weren’t going to be able to meet, I would have listened more to my own hesitation. I would have stopped sooner, no matter what she said. Or I would not have even tried to do that work.
She doesn’t care at all about how this affects me.
And she is just abandoning me with all this emotion.
Tapping, snapping, crapping. Tapping doesn’t do anything. I’m exploding right now and she’s sitting in her stupid home office greeting her next client.
Finally, I settled myself enough to drive home. I was exhausted, okay maybe from sleeping poorly the night before. My back was hurting, okay maybe from the chronic hip tightness I’ve been working on. I was still angry, okay maybe about the scheduling but again, maybe some of that was the little girl’s rage. I don’t really know.
It took a phone session with E and some meditation and yoga and binge watching Netflix to really bring me back to a sense of stability–which by the way, I needed so that I could deal with my son’s return home. It was a relief to put all that intensity away for a while.
Around Thanksgiving, I decided that I would cancel my December 5 session with Elaine. Why risk opening all that up again, only to struggle to put it away for another month after that? What was the point?
So, I haven’t seen Elaine since November 21. And in the meantime, I’ve started to think that I don’t want to continue into the New Year. I have been feeling pretty good, overall. I haven’t been triggered at all for over five weeks, which is a long time for me. I have enjoyed the holidays with my family. I feel like I am actually living in the present for a change, instead of spending all my energy focused on the past.
A week ago, I experienced a great sense of clarity: I am doing well. I want to focus my efforts on my current life. On helping my son. On shifting the type of work I am doing. On my yoga teaching and my writing. On becoming the healthy, motivated, purposeful person I want to be. I want my energy to move forward.
It’s not that the past doesn’t matter. It did and it does. It caused me a lot of pain and shaped the person I am. But I have already done a lot of healing work. Years and years of it. Do I need to keep giving it that much attention, especially if it is so upsetting? It might be different if I were so affected by the past that I couldn’t manage my present. But in fact, I’m doing okay now with my present. I have more of a sense of boundaries (usually). I respect and care for myself (mostly). I have a lot of healthy coping skills (that I often use).
Today, though, I feel less clear than I did a week ago. I wonder if there’s relief to be found in EMDR, but I am giving up before I get there. I wonder if feeling those intense emotions from my wounded child self could free me from them, if I just allowed them to rise and pass through me. I wonder if I am making a bunch of excuses not to work anymore with Elaine because that last session was painful and difficult and left me feeling uncared for.
I don’t know my “true” motivation. I don’t even know what I am going to decide yet. My next appointment with Elaine is this week, on Thursday, January 2. I will go to the appointment, but I don’t know yet if I’ll use it to continue the work or talk to her about discontinuing.
Ah well. I suppose it would be boring if we always knew what lay ahead.
CREDIT: Image modified from a photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash