Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psycho therapeutic technique used in the treatment of trauma as well as other conditions. You can look this up if you would like a more precise explanation. Ruth would “tap” on the backs of my hands while we went through difficult memories. She also used this therapy to reprogram my brain that had been filled with lies by the abuser and had over time become my 14+ negative thoughts.
For example, I would sit in a chair with Ruth sitting knee to knee with me. She put a board on my knees and I would rest my hands, palm side down, on this board. When we began Ruth would “tap” on first one hand than the other in a back and forth rhythm that would change from a faster pace than would become slower and lighter than more forceful; this is the “eye movement” portion of the therapy. This is to engage both sides of the brain at the same time. As I spoke about specific memories I was somehow becoming desensitized to the trauma of it so that I was more able to see it clearly for what it was. The brain then seems to have an ability to reprocess this information with the help of the specially trained therapist. Ruth, as a trained trauma therapist and Christian, would always call upon Christ which in my opinion is what made this such a powerful healing tool for me.
During some sessions of this therapy Ruth would say truth statements and I would repeat them back. I sat with my eyes closed, take a few cleansing breathes then she would begin to tap. Ruth told me to not worry if I did not believe the statement to just repeat it. To help you understand better I have decided to share with you my journal entry that I wrote after my second session of EMDR.
Journal Entry: March 19, 2012
“I had a session with Ruth today; the second session of EMDR therapy. The fist session I talked about how the abuse began. I was expecting to continue describing the abuse, but because of the heavy emotions that I was feeling we began with work on reprocessing positive and /or true statements. Much to my surprise this became a very emotional event. I wasn’t expecting to feel so emotional and cry so much over statements like “He lied to me”, “I was a child, I am not responsible for his behavior”, “He manipulated me”, etc. Ruth would say these phrases, tap on the backs of my hands then I would repeat them after her. We would do this for a time, then she would stop, sit back and give me some time to wipe away the tears and to breathe. I felt overwhelmed with emotions that I couldn’t name and my chest felt like there was a lot of pressure – like someone was pushing down on my chest. After several times of speaking then resting, I sat forward and put my head in my hands. I was trying to breathe and release some of the pressure in my back and chest. Ruth put her hand on my left shoulder, rubbing it a bit. This was very comforting. After a few moments I felt the emotions receding, but then they began to build quickly. I said “Ruth” through my tears, she said “Yes?” and I said “Let’s Pray”. She said “yes” and after a moment she began praying for me. During this prayer an amazing thing began to happen. As she was asking God to be with me, to take this burden from me, telling me to give it to God, that He was with me now, that He had been with me when the abuse occurred…I felt a releasing of emotions from so deep within my soul that I don’t even know if I was aware that they had been there. I began to cry more and Ruth was praying saying “yes, let it go. Give it to God” I cried harder and harder. It is difficult to explain, but I felt an actual physical lifting of the pain inside of me. And after a short time I felt a calming feeling overtake me. The pressure in my chest was gone, my breathing began to return to normal and I felt more at peace than I have felt in a long time.”
end of entry…
That day as I sat back in the chair and looked at Ruth I was feeling overwhelmed emotionally, exhausted, peaceful and stunned. I could not form any words or thoughts to describe how I was feeling. I looked at Ruth and just said “Wow”. She smiled and said “yes, wow”. This would become our word during these moments that God’s hand touched us so powerfully and there would be many more of these moments over the next several years. A few years later Ruth had a wooden plaque made for me that says “Wow”. Every time I look at it I think of the powerful, gracious work of the Lord in my life.
Throughout my life I really resented it when I would hear others talk about “letting go of your pain or giving your problems to the Lord”. I never thought this was possible and honestly I always thought that it seemed more like a platitude than something that could actually be accomplished. No one said this to me because of what I had been through as no one knew anything about my pain. But whenever I would hear this biblical idea spoken of I was always thinking “how come you never tell me how to do that?” People say “give it to God” like this is an easy thing to do and honestly this attitude just makes the rest of us feel like failures in this area. One day I spoke to Ruth about this and I told her that now that others know that I was hurt as a child they will tell me to ‘give it to God’ and I know they are trying to be helpful but I just end up feeling like a terrible Christian. Ruth had these wise words for me that really helped, “There are everyday type hurts and offenses that we can and should ‘let go’ of. We are to forgive those who hurt our feelings, are unkind toward us, cut us off in traffic, but there are hurts in life that go so deep and are so large that it requires God “taking the pain” from us.” Ruth was so right! I can lay down those hurts that occur from day-to-day but when you are touched by evil you need God to come inside and take away the poison that infects you.
You will never hear me say that I gave my pain to God. For in truth, I had little to do with it. Ruth would tell me that I am part of the team and that I accepted his gift and didn’t try to take it back and I will concede she is correct in that, but it is important to me that you understand that you don’t have to be on your own in this. God can and does work in us to remove the pains that we cannot get rid of ourselves. Thank you for being a part of this journey and I pray that you will find some comfort in the hope of healing. God Bless.