At the request of my psychiatrist, I have started an alternative form of therapy called EMDR therapy. In a upcoming post I plan on explaining EMDR further and if I see any positive outcomes from it. For now, the therapist and I have only completed my intake and documented that my eyes can indeed follow his fingers (this latter function is a major step for EMDR). The first week was mainly an introduction. After all, we have never met before. It took me weeks to find an EMDR therapist in my area that had an opening and took insurance other than Medicare. He made me feel comfortable and hopeful in this new form of therapy so I decided I would stick with him. Where that leaves me with my CBT (Cogitative Behavioral Therapy) therapist is a question that will remain without an answer for awhile. Luckily for me, unfortunately for my CBT therapist, he is getting a hip replacement and will be out of commission for awhile.
Week 2, this past Monday, I arrived right after seeing my psychiatrist. It was a “Stephanie REALLY needs her head examined” type of day. Going to my psychiatrist already works me up as I pass so many triggering landmarks to her office from work… DCF, the way I would take to Tyler’s daycare, the hospital, the ER entrance to the hospital…
So, I arrive already full of emotion. ”Today,” he states, “We’re going to target certain memories that are the most powerful and that yield the most feeling for you. These will be used when we start the actual EMDR step.” Okay, no problem, I got this. I start explaining the last day with Tyler for me. Tears were forming in my eyes. I was getting choked up. I began to stare off at his orchids. Glancing back at my therapist, I could see he noticed how triggering this was.
His response, “Perfect. This is definitely one memory we will use. Can you think of any others that you think are intertwined with this one? Maybe you might not realize it yet. Try to think of one.”
My whole memory of my last day with Tyler… myself in constant tears, shaking, tensing muscles in my hands, rocking back and forth, delusionally talking to myself… seeing me at my worst or what I thought was my worst… then admitting defeat, that the only way for me to live would be for me to remove myself from the house, led to a whole other set of emotions for leaving my children. Leaving my biological daughter of 8 years at the time and my foster-to-adopt son that was only 2 1/2 years old and utterly clueless why his new Mommy was leaving him. This ultimately led to me admitting a feeling, the worst feeling a mother could have for her children… Abandonment. I abandoned him that night. Yes, it was ultimately the best decision for everyone, but for me, as a mother, I felt that I abandoned him. In my mind, I feel as though I didn’t try hard enough to keep him with us. Even though I was on the verge of losing myself completely, abandoning him led to the deepest Depression I have ever been through. A Depression that like Hurricane Ivan in 2004, re-spawned itself recently.
A mother never abandons her child!
And then I did it again. I abandoned Sophia when I put myself in the hospital a couple of weeks later. I left her without even saying goodbye. Upon realizing I could not see her while staying at the hospital the abandonment feelings came full force and my tears could not stop. I was crazy hysterical. Those were the 5 longest days I’ve had most recently. My daughter is one of my biggest sources of strength and I was without her physically for 5 days. I abandoned her… AGAIN!
Bingo! Apparently my demons from my Postpartum Depression and Anxiety days were not all buried or squashed. I spoke to the therapist, “I abandoned my daughter. I abandoned her when I had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety exactly one month after she was born. I was hospitalized for it and was there for 12 days. Even though I was allowed to see her, I still abandoned her.”
I spoke up again, “I missed so many days of her life at that moment. She was only 4 weeks old when I admitted myself and I was there for 12 days!”
It doesn’t matter, in my head, knowing this is what I had to do. I had to “abandon” both her and Tyler to get better. Instead, my brain continues the flow of abandonment with what if Sophia was a foster child, would I have given her back too?! Would I have abandoned her permanently?! Even worse, I did in fact have a plan to leave. If I had a place to run to, I would have been gone. I would have abandoned her and my husband.
The therapist spoke, “These two situations are definitely linked. You have some powerful emotions linked to both of them that are the same. Can you dig further into your past and come up with something from your childhood that you think could be a possible trigger for both of these?” That is where the story ends. I thought for awhile but I had a relatively happy childhood. I never felt abandoned as a young child. I replied to him by shrugging my shoulders and saying, “No, there is nothing else.”
He explained that this was okay. If there are old hidden memories, they may come up during the actual EMDR therapy. I wonder if there is anything else there I’ve made myself forget. I don’t think there is.
I left his office completely emotionally drained. I had not been home in roughly 12 hours. I walked through my front door looking straight at my husband and my beautiful daughter, and yet I still had strong emotions that I did abandon her wondering if I will ever forgive myself.