July 10, 2024

EMDR Therapy

EMDR is no joke. If you are not familiar with EMDR, it stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of specialized therapy that helps you reprocess painful or traumatic experiences and memories. With rapid eye movements and the careful guidance of a specialty-trained therapist, the results can be pretty incredible. For me, it has been a whole nervous system reset.
I began my EMDR journey on February 13, 2024, and have re-processed a handful of memories. The idea is that we have past memories that can still negatively impact us today whether we are conscious of it or not. Memories, even when I am not present to them, still impact me. I have worked with a traditional therapist for decades, and have an amazing one now, as well as a coach, and a few other Team Bob Helpers in my life, but I felt like I needed more.
I explored EMDR when I noticed my inability to regulate my own nervous system in stressful and triggering experiences. Mainly when my son is acting out, or actually acting normal for a then three-year-old. I would get irritated, agitated, a little resentful, and just shut down in overwhelm. It was like I had no control over what my nervous system was doing. Total fight/flight response.
I’m committed to being an incredible father and an amazing role model for him. I knew something was triggering for me in those moments to not show up the way I am committed to showing up. So, I got to work and completed my journey yesterday after 16 sessions.
An example of a memory I reprocessed happened somewhere around the age of 5. I got into my dad’s junk drawer and began playing with a pocket knife. The kind with the locking blade. In trying to close it I badly cut my thumb. Real bad. Lots of pain and lots of blood. My dad was in the bathroom showering at the time and I knew once he saw what I had done I would be in big trouble. I panicked, trying to close the blade and cut myself again. I was filled with fear and worry. Long story short, he came out of the bathroom and saw what happened and he took care of the situation and took care of me. Cleaned me up, bandaged my wound, and taught me how to close the knife. He may have even said, “Don’t tell mom”.
But what my body and nervous system learned at that moment created some sort of physiological and psychological imprint and a core belief that “I am bad” and in my badness, I will get hurt or hurt others. In reprocessing that memory something really beautiful happened. A vision came of the adult me, my father, and my son circling the 5-year-old me. All reminding me that I am safe. I am safe. I am safe. Reprocessing that core belief of “I am bad” to “I am safe”.
Words can’t describe or accurately capture the impact EMDR has had on me in such a short time. Kind of feels a bit magical, but nevertheless, it is working. The irritation and triggers I had around my son and fathering are mostly gone or much more navigable. It almost seems too good to be true but there is clearly something positive happened and I am embracing it. I recommend the approach and it is fascinating. If you are local to Chicago, I got a great guy for it.
Would love to hear anyone’s experience with EMDR.
Bob