As 2017 entered and I got to say goodbye to the worst year on record, I began the beginning stages of trauma body work, with my therapist. I also began EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). If you haven’t heard of it before, it was developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD, an American psychologist, as a breakthrough therapy with special capacity to overcome the often devastating effects of psychological trauma in the late 1980s (http://www.emdrhap.org/content/what-is-emdr/). It doesn’t wipe out traumatic memories but instead allows the brain to access them in a non-traumatic manner.
The first thing we tackled was a certain white van (she told me that was a first and we had a good laugh about that one before we started). The girlfriend has a white van and SO MUCH shit went down inside of that van that I started to call it the ‘fuck van’ and developed an aversion to white vans everywhere. I would be driving to work and see a white van and my breathing would get shallow and my chest would get tight. It sucked. And even though we haven’t begun the actual intense work of EMDR yet; we did some visualization involving the fuck van, and it worked. I practiced being present in my body while my therapist said the mantra, ‘you’ve got this, this has no meaning anymore, this has no control over you anymore’; you get the idea. I drove to work just yesterday and there was a white van on either side of my car and I just started laughing.
The next thing we dealt with was a visualization of the girlfriend. That was more difficult. All I can say is, I want to pull her hair a bit LESS at this point. I will consider that progress.
The third thing we began to tackle was my ex-husband. That was brutal. I stopped breathing all together. And tears streamed down my face as I pictured this man who broke my heart mixed in with the man who was my best friend for 16 years. I spent so much of my life in 2016 trying to be someone I wasn’t; trying to get him to take down the fortress of walls he had put up against me. I was the invisible girl who was treated like shit and yet I stayed, clinging to the hope that he would ‘see me’ and we would go back to what we had once been. My visualization involved one such moment:
I was sitting on the front porch and texting with a friend when he came biking up the street; home from work. He saw me and hopped off of his bike, walked over to me, grasped my head in his hands and said, “I see you”. I was ecstatic. Overjoyed. Filled with hope. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god! He is back! The man I love is back and we are going to be ok!’. It lasted for 24 hrs. He went back to her, back to his walls. That was the last time he let me back in. I haven’t seen him since.
All of that really happened.
Here is the part that didn’t: Instead of him coming up and fixing me, making me feel worth it and that I was ‘enough’, Another me walked up behind him. I looked at myself sitting on that bench and said, ‘We don’t need him to feel good enough. You are strong enough without him; without anyone. Come with me.’ And I took the hand of that broken girl and we fused together. I could still feel her hurting inside of me, confused, scared, alone. But we became one whole and solid person and we walked off of the porch together, leaving that man standing there alone.
We walked away and did not look back.