by Amy Lawson, MBA, CDFA®
Out of love for ourselves, and for the others we love, we deal with our sh*t. Self-aware women know that if we don’t deal with our sh*t, the other people in our lives will pay for the sins of the hurtful, the neglectful, and the downright cruel words and deeds of those who have crossed or shared our paths.
Life is filled with struggle. For many, divorce is a very real part of life. And, as anyone who has lived through it can contest, divorce can be traumatic. Especially if the death of our dream of happily ever after was daisy-chained with another shocking revelation. “I want a divorce, and by the way, I’ve been having an affair with my assistant… our backdoor neighbor… your best friend…” Take your pick, anything after the “with” packs on the trauma.
Biologists have found that Bottlenose Dolphins have the best long-term memory in the animal kingdom. According to studies, Bottlenose Dolphins have been able to remember the sounds of other dolphins over a period of 20 years. Each dolphin has its own unique whistle sound that is distinguishable to other dolphins.
So, while a dolphin has a good memory, a dolphin’s memory has nothing on our bodies.
Traumas Die Hard
Our bodies remember how every degrading word, graphic image, and angry blow FEELS. Don’t believe me? Try it. Think back to a situation that left you stunned, or shunned, bruised, or battered and note how you FEEL. We relive the offense with every thought and our bodies hold on to the emotions without us even realizing it.
We may carry these emotions in our chest, in our solar plexus, and/or in our pelvic area, but carry them we do.
We can read the books, try to think positively, look for reasons to be grateful, talk it out with our friends and therapist, and journal until the ink runs dry, but until we take steps to release the negative emotions from our bodies, we can only grow so far.
Speaking from my own experience, I grew up in a violent family, both immediate and extended. Before the age of 5, I had been repeatedly battered, belittled, and sexually abused. On one occasion, I watched frozen in fear as my out-of-control father shot and killed our family dog in front of me because the dog had disobeyed him.
As early as I can remember, I carried a gripping feeling deep in lower abdomen, in my pelvic area. This feeling was always present and would intensify when faced with a situation I perceived as threatening.
Healing Wounds, Old & New
Earlier this year, I witnessed the tragic death of someone I hold dear. Not only did I watch someone I love – a seemingly healthy 46-year-old – drop dead of a heart attack, but all attempts at CPR, including my own attempts, failed. That event kicked my trauma response, and that ever-present gripping feeling, into overdrive – the feeling became a vice grip. I had flashbacks and nightmares, repeatedly, vividly, reliving the incident both day and night.
Seeking relief, not only for my own well-being, but so I could be of help to two other dear souls who witnessed the same tragic event, I turned to Pippa Hancock, a clinical hypnotherapist in London. Pippa offers several modalities of therapy, but I was particularly interested in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR. I had heard of EMDR years ago after a former boyfriend sought help dealing with the abandonment issues created by the death of his mother at a very young age, but I had never tried it. At the time, the ever-present gripping feeling was so familiar that I had no concept that it was anything other than normal.
Here Are My Questions, Along With Pippa Hancock’s Answers
Why is it so important to take steps to help our bodies process trauma?
Trauma that goes untreated can seriously impact your physical health. When the negative memory of a traumatic event or experience gets imprinted into our cells it can manifest into illness. According to medical research, untreated trauma is prone to cause physical pain and inflammation in the body, heart issues, as well as obesity and even cancer.
What is EMDR?
EMDR uses eye movement (and other bilateral stimulation) that repeatedly activates different sides of the brain to release emotional destress trapped in the nervous system.
Is EMDR a new modality of therapy?
EMDR is relatively new compared to other therapies out there, it was developed in the mid 80’s by an American psychologist that found by using eye movement they could decrease negative emotions.
How does EMDR work?
A client will track the therapists hand movements with their eyes as they move from left to right across the field of vision. The hand movement stimulates Rapid Eye Movement we experience during sleep, memories are processed and will eventually decrease the association with painful events and experiences.
Will EMDR work on all types of traumas?
EMDR works with all types of traumas, as well as the symptoms associated with it such as anxiety, stress, fears & phobias, low self-esteem and confidence and even unwanted habits and behaviors.
Are the effects permanent?
As far as research has shown the effects of EMDR are permanent, however some clients require several sessions depending on the issue they are working with.
Do you offer consultations?
Yes, I offer consultations over the telephone and online.
Can EMDR be done over Zoom?
Yes, EMDR can be done over Zoom and is just as effective.
What can someone expect when they engage your services?
A typical EMDR session with me can last between 45 minutes to an hour. We do a pre-talk where I get to know a little bit more about the client and the outcome they are looking to achieve, followed by the desensitization process and then I finish off reinforcing some positive thoughts using tapping techniques. If the client is booking in for an RTT hypnotherapy as well then, the session can be up to three hours long as we go deeper in working with reframing memories and associations at the same time as we uncover the root cause of the presenting issue.
You Deserve Relief
Dear friend, you are worthy of peace – peace of mind, body, and spirit. If you are traumatized by the divorce you face, or from ANY other word, deed, or event in your life, relief is available. Please don’t try to minimize the impact that ANY type of abuse or trauma has had on your body – it’s real and it’s lasting unless you seek help to process it. And don’t beat yourself up for not being able to will away the elephant on your chest, or the gripping feeling in your solar plexus, and/or pelvic area. We all do the best we know to do until we learn to do something better, so give yourself a break – especially if no one else will give you one.
In the wise words of Max Ehrmann, “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.”
Dear friend, I encourage you to deal with the sh*t that trauma caused; I encourage you, no, I challenge you to take the steps to keep peace in your soul. You got this.
Wishing you peace & plenty of relief!
Your gray girlfriend,