More processing

person holding fountain pen

Looks like another double post day. Just like London buses…

I want to write a bit about the memory I’ve been processing in my EMDR sessions. I think doing this after therapy helps consolidate the session.

The memory is one I’ve described previously, a recollection of self-harm when I was 16 or so, when my Mum entered the room. I won’t go over the details again.

Today’s session was tough because there has been a break of 3 weeks while my therapist was away, and in that time I’ve gone downhill pretty drastically. So there was a lot to talk about, a lot of tears, and eventually, some processing of the memory.

In these session, I ‘process’ by bringing the memory to mind, then watching a dot move on screen. This is the ‘EM’ of ‘EMDR’ – eye movement. I won’t claim to understand the science behind it!

As you follow the dot, thoughts, emotions, sensations may arise and then we discuss them briefly before repeating the process.

Today I found myself focusing on my Mum’s role in the memory. I saw her in me, looking out. I then felt tired, really tired, then angry, tense and eventually very upset.

Back when this took place, my Mum came into my room and saw that I had cut myself pretty badly. She told me off, and we never spoke of it, or anything to do with mental health, ever again. To this very day.

Obviously, that has had an effect on me. My emotions today were weariness, anger and sadness. I’m weary of carrying the hurt for 20 years, of having bottled up so much for so long. The anger was directed at my Mum, and even though my Dad caused the state that lead to me self-harming, the greater damage was that my Mum did absolutely nothing at that moment.

And then the sadness was a mix of feeling abandoned by her, unprotected, dismissed, rejected…a load of emotions.

As the processing continued, I started to get pain in my stomach. I don’t know if it was just my lunch or whether it was to do with the trauma being processed. I’d like to think it’s the latter, but I will have to wait and see if it happens again.

I’m fascinated by the concept that trauma gets locked in the body. When I was first introduced to this idea, suddenly so much made sense. Chronic musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and dermatological conditions made a lot of sense, given all that I was carrying.

I feel the tension in my throat, shoulders and stomach when I’m in a flashback. My skin flares up when I’m stressed. I have no doubt that chronic stress and trauma is linked to my stomach surgery 2 years ago. So I will be watching closely to see whether processing trauma leads to any somatic symptoms.

Anyway, after a couple of pretty bad weeks, it feels like I may have achieved something in my therapeutic journey today. Hopefully this will provide some impetus for an upturn in mood.

Thanks and take care.


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