Image by Kevin Dooley, used with Creative Commons License, edited by Mydnyht Rantings
This past week in therapy, we addressed something in EMDR that none of my other therapists or doctors have even tried to clarify as legitimate: we started working through the initial issue. The one I remember; the one that most people don’t see as sexual abuse or sexual trauma but that I feel was very much so. Because this is something I remember pretty clearly, it was a lot more difficult than our past EMDR sessions have been. I don’t like thinking about this issue, and in fact even naming it with those I trust to validate my experience of sexual trauma is triggering for me. I generally just refer to it as “the initial issue” because speaking aloud the word itself makes me extremely uncomfortable and upset. I fact, whenever I hear a child cry, my first clouded but frightened thought is, “Is it because someone is doing it to them, too?” Irrational, maybe, but it’s where my mind automatically goes.
I sometimes wonder if the repressed memory is even real anymore, now that it’s been three and a half years since that fateful December. I wonder, if the initial issue had been properly addressed by my doctors, would my anxiety levels have reached as high as they did and would my mind have latched onto the concept of more traditional sexual abuse? While part of the issue is that I had a doctor tell me “While I agree that is an inappropriate way to treat a child, I think something else may have happened,” I have done research into falsified repressed memories to ease my guilt surrounding my very serious thoughts. If nothing happened, I wondered, am I a terrible person for assuming that people who care about me did something so terrible? But it is, in fact, incredibly easy to manipulate memory and it is possible that my psyche manufactured the physical symptoms of my repressed memory to cope with the fact that I was not receiving enough support in dealing with the initial issue. My subconscious could have recognized that I was not getting the help I needed, and responded by manifesting physical symptoms that helped me grieve my loss of innocence and, in turn, could make others take my situation more seriously. It probably sounds far-fetched, but the mind is a powerful thing.
In addition to the (now very uncomfortable) EMDR sessions, I have tried a new practice in addition to yoga and the pelvic exercises suggested in “Healing Sex” by Staci Haines: I have started to try taking my walks without listening to music. Granted, part of this is to help me address the dogs’ behavior issues on walks better, but in “Healing Sex” Haines mentions that using time on a walk to simply be in your body and pay attention to its rhythms and the way it moves and reacts is a great way to become more comfortable in your sexual self. In addition, practices like walking without music and yoga can help center the body more so that I am more prepared and comfortable should a flashback occur. I checked out “Healing Sex” from the library for a third time around the time I started seeing my current therapist, but I had to return it once I reached the chapter on masturbation per suggestion of my therapist because it was simply too triggering. I would read the book, relate to something, wonder if I would ever get better, and break down in tears. I couldn’t do it. Despite having read it and having gone through the exercises twice before, something was different this time. I’m hoping that the more I focus on somatic healing, the easier it will be to return to the book and in time return to a more normal, or healthy, way of being. I’m tired of having this affect me daily and I want to get to a point where I feel better. And slowly, but surely, I’m getting there.