Healing is a deeply personal endeavor.
There does not exist a one-size-fits-all model which every human being living on earth can follow. Healing is as complex and diverse as the human population. It often takes on various forms, shapes, and sizes. The practice of psychotherapy is evolving to appreciate the differences in healing capacities from one individual to the next. Healing can be stunted or frozen by the belief that an individual does not feel worthy or worse deserves to experience the current level of suffering.
Some people express a pervasive brokenness or feeling like they are damaged goods. Through the course of my life I have resonated with the belief that I was damaged. Unloveable. And Broken. The hope for things to change did not exist. Life continued onward. I felt like a lost cause. I sought comfort in a alcoholic beverage or through other addictions, compulsive behaviors, and isolation to name a few. What changed for me was the words of a Fr. Francis DiSpigno, OFM, a Catholic-Franciscan Priest, who reminded me that we are all called to be good, holy, and blessed. I had left Catholicism, my religion of birth, for almost 5 years because I felt I was also unworthy of my higher powers love and affection.
My journey of healing took me the the ends of the world. I practiced different religious and philosophical traditions Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Unitarian Universalist, Hinduism, Athetism, and Agnosticism. Attended the ManKind Project New Warrior Training. Took up painting, playing the piano & guitar, Practiced yoga, meditation, prayer, anything with the hope that I would begin to feel whole. I entered recovery in 12-step fellowships, practiced the steps and principles in all my affairs, but the feeling of wholeness did not return.
Something was lacking. Nothing I did on a cognitive level seemed to work. I tried conventional talk therapy with the trappings of cognitive behavioral therapy. Still no healing took place. Then one day the flood gates opened. I decided to pursue Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
I had the gift of desperation when I approached EMDR. Everything else I had tried had a small effect on me. I placed my trust in the process and the therapist I saw.
I learned I was worthy of healing.
For the first time I felt that my past did not have to define me. I remember early in the process taking the assessment tools and learning I had a significant history of dissociative symptoms. The fragments of self that I carried with me finally came to light. I remember doing Fraser’s dissociative table exercise and inviting all the pieces of myself into a room. To my surprise eleven characters showed up. Each representing a piece of me I had not felt comfortable sharing boldly with the world. The cascade of tears came pouring down my face as I felt the beginning of wholeness. Each part shared how they functioned and protected me over my life’s journey. I had to ask each part to help me in the healing process. From that point forward I felt like I was on the right path.
Over the course of several months I began to feel alive and whole in ways I had never felt. I took up running, overcame my fear of swimming, and felt free to be myself. I have no regrets on the past. I can see the beauty within the painful experiences and the lessons of grit, resilience, and persevere that have lead me to my authentic self.
I remember saying the 3rd step prayer with my sponsor via phone call which goes:
“God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.”Alcoholics Anonymous, The Big Book, p. 63
I felt a deep connection to these words. EMDR helped me to find peace and serenity that I never new existed. I am infinite goodness, holiness, and blessed. I don’t have to define myself by what others say about me. That took a long journey and many years to arrive at that point.
EMDR also helped me to find forgiveness and let go of resentment. Joyce Mitchell, a friend and colleague, handed me a bracket inscribed with the words “KEEP FUCKING GOING”. It has become my mantra throughout the healing process.
Healing for me is not always rainbows and sunshine.
At times it was ugly. Facing the past is about accepting what happened is part of my story, experiencing the emotions, and finding ways to reintegrating those events into my present life. The memories that were frozen in time were now thawed and worked through my system. Relief does not begin to describe the intense joy, freedom, and bliss I felt each session. I took up running which I never felt competent in as a child. Running provided me with a sense of newfound freedom and mastery. It was a nice adjunct to EMDR. I took up old passions I had long lost with new fervor.
I often felt EMDR worked on a cellular level. I often described the experience of my cells feeling like they were turning on again. The support of friends and family in the self-help community helped me to discover the deeper nature of who I was meant to be.
If you have read this far and are on your journey to heal, trust that you are worthy, lovable, and unique. The world needs you in it. Trust the process of EMDR. Recovery has taught me that things happen quickly and sometimes slowly. But if we work for them the results always materialize. Recovery of any kind cannot be found in isolation. I learned that my experiences were not unique. Many before me have had similar negative life events. It is through the sharing of our stories and narratives that we also begin to find wholeness and purpose.
My hope is that you find the voice within you. Every step we take toward recovery is a step in right direction. Healing is a process not an event. The people I respect the most are those individuals who honor their pain and discover their authentic self.
Your healing matters!
I am grateful that I can now provide EMDR Therapy to others as a clinician. EMDR changed my life. May you discover the beauty it has to offer in your healing journey. Feel free to share your own experiences in the comment section below on your journey of healing.