I’ve recently started a new form of therapy switching from my years of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. This is a whole new ballgame. Where CBT would try to train me to constantly think positively about myself by saying positive things into a mirror, EMDR is actually tricking my brain into rethinking that way as to erase all the negative thoughts I have about myself concerning Tyler last year and concerning Sophia with Postpartum and last year. It is not an easy feat for someone who for almost 36 years has always been extremely self critical and lives with and Inner Bitch. This Inner Bitch is very cruel.
EMDR started like any other form of therapy with intake questions. Then we went over the “calm down” exercises. One of these would be performed at the end of each session to calm any anxiety brought about during the session. One such “calm down” exercise is “The Container Exercise”. For this, you picture a container in which you can put the highly emotional thoughts discussed away until the following session. After describing this to me, the first thing I thought of was The Room Of Requirement from Harry Potter. Let me tell you, J.K. Rowling knew what she was doing with this Room. The Room Of Requirement is “… a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker’s needs“
Basically, it is a room, at several points in the books, that contains junk people have thrown away. Okay, it is not only junk, but several important items that people want to discard because they are too powerful… just like my memories and emotions.
It was after my first true EMDR session using bilateral stimulation (tracking my therapist’s fingers from right to left) that he chose this “calm down” exercise. Problem was, he missed a step, the step about me NOT entering the room. Here I am, eyes closed, staring in a room like the picture above with piles and bookshelves of stuff, chatzkies. I am poised in front of a wooden bookshelf about 6 feet tall. It is made of thick rough wood, chunky but worn. There are a variety of things already on this bookshelf… a diadem, books, a golden snitch… and other various items from the Harry Potter world. From the corner of my right eye I can see the Vanishing Cabinet Draco Malfoy used and in the corner of my left eye, a Gothic arched opening. I am intrigued by this opening but need to finish the task at hand.
“Place those memories in the Room Of Requirement,” my therapist says. I take a metallic box, like a small treasure chest and put it on the shelf directly in front of me. “Now close the door to the room.”
Um, uh oh. “I can’t,” I say, “I’m stuck!”. He seems slightly perplexed by my statement and asks me to describe further. “My feet are fused to the floor. They can’t move. It’s like a magnetic force is holding me to this spot.”
He thinks a moment, “Hmmm… it seems that maybe you can’t leave these memories behind, that you are too attached to them for now.”
What started out as a calming exercise, now became an anxiety inducing one! We tabled this exercise for the following week.
So, this past Monday, as I am following his finger from the right to the left, I find myself back in the Room Of Requirement. I am still fused to that spot with my treasure chest of emotions and memories in front of me, but my eyes are very much focusing on the sunlight coming from the Gothic Arched Opening. I can turn my head toward it slightly seeing the royal blue skies with the cumulus clouds, rays of sunshine casting shadows over the gray stone floors.
“Do you feel safe in this room?” he starts.
“Yes, although cold in nature, I am calm.”
“Do you hear anything? Can you see anything else?” My therapist asks still moving his fingers.
“I can hear Sophia laughing outside the opening.”
“What do you think that means?”
And the epiphany… “Happiness lies outside this Room. My daughter, the sun, the fresh air.”
“Can you move?”
As I glance back into my mind, I realize that my feet have shifted to the left toward this opening. “I haven’t lifted up my feet but I shifted toward the opening.”
“That’s a great start! You moved.”
Of course I didn’t see this as overly wonderful, what’s shifting an inch or two in one direction, but then again, I live with an Inner Bitch so naturally I would not see this as amazing.
“I wonder, though, why you feel so safe in this room when you know Happiness lies outside that opening?” My therapist states.
Safe… was safe the best term? Was it more that I felt comfortable? Why did I find this dark place so relaxing? And then an answer hit me:
“I have been attached to these emotions for so long I do not think I can part from them yet as much as I want to be happy. I know that there is so much work left to do and I don’t want my family to see this part of me so it is better it is hidden and fused in this room.”
“What part of you is this?”
“The evil Stephanie.”