I’ve spent most of my adult life waiting for tomorrow. Tomorrow, next week, next month, a new season, next year things will be better. It never was any better. I had some time when I could keep this “thing” at bay and out of nowhere it would raise its ugly head and wipe out the days that I was able to “get through.”
These outbursts of fear and rejection, really strong feelings of worthlessness, of not being enough, were an endless cycle that brought so much pain and confusion to me and to those who have tried to understand. I remember asking myself over and over again “What’s wrong with you?”
I’ve experienced some things that I would not want anyone to have to live through. I thought those experiences were gone, but I was reliving them over and over for years. Just the thought of one of these incidents would bring with it intense heaviness in my chest, waves of nausea and then the deep sadness with tears that did not seem to stop. I could bring up the emotion as if it were happening right then, right now.
Then later these “things” would creep out at work, at home, and sometimes when I was alone. I reacted to situations with an exaggerated emotional response. I’m a nurse, and I love my calling, but I think now that calling is also what I used to hide this “thing”. I didn’t do that consciously, I thought that if I could save my patients, fight for them, love them, then I too would be saved, loved, fought for, and then this “thing” would just disappear. My mind was always all over the place when I was at home. I could not tell you the last time I was actually in the moment. It’s like when you are driving and stop at a traffic light and say to yourself “how the heck did I get this far?”
Then I was referred to a therapist who has experience with people who have this same “thing.” She explained to me that I was not crazy and that she believed that my brain had not filed away my past traumatic experiences as it should have. I think of it now as a messy desk, you know, those papers you swear you are going to put where they belong, but still there they are, waiting to be put in their place.
I have had one session of EMDR. I didn’t look it up on the internet, the thought of a life without the “thing” was enough to keep me from wanting to know too much about the therapy, I was concerned that I might skew the results, sabotage it somehow.
One week after the session, I was digging in my garden, carrying mulch, weeding. I paused after a little while and realized the only thing I was thinking about was the garden, how many weeds had grown. My mind was on what I was doing. I was in the moment. I wish I could relay to you the surprise and more importantly the sheer joy at actually being present in my own life. Later in the day I realized that I could remember all that I had done, the feel of the mulch, the fragrance that only good old dirt has. Freaky!
A few days later my brother called and I talked with him about what I had been up to, therapy, the gardening, and I told him about the EMDR session. I told him what subject I had used during my session and I expected the same old “thing” to rise up, but it never did. I didn’t feel sick, scared, sad, nothing! I was even able to discuss a bit of it with him that he did not know about and guess what? Still nothing! A week later, I couldn’t bring up those old feelings. They are gone. I now get a little surprised as each day comes and goes and I have another realization that when shopping, I think about shopping. I want you to know, for the first time I can remember, I am looking forward to living the rest of my life.