I guess this goes without saying, but yeah….I’ll put a trigger warning on this piece.
EMDR. Everything had been going smoothly up till that moment. Everything I had prepared myself to see had come up. Then suddenly an image I didn’t want to see showed itself. One I didn’t want to remember. One my therapist didn’t know about.
She stopped me, I opened my mouth, but the image still played forward and I couldn’t get any words to come out. I could physically feel it all happening again just as it had originally. My breathing quickened as if I had been running, my eyes continued to move back and forth, and I know my face was etched in panic. “Danielle…it’s NOT real. It’s on a movie screen.” Her voice came out loudly and firmly. It helped ground me, and a sense of security came with it as I realized she wouldn’t leave me to navigate this terror alone. I nodded my head in response and took a big breath. I tried to step back from it, but the image continued to play out. I wanted to cry. Why wouldn’t it stop?
I remember hearing her whisper to me, “Danielle, what are you seeing?” I couldn’t tell her the graphics. The words simply wouldn’t spill from my mouth. All those months. I’d tried to tell her and I couldn’t. But I needed her to know. “I can’t get him off me.” I watched her completely soften in response. The image faded away from my view. There. She knew.
That was several months ago. We never talked about it any more than that one single statement.
Not long ago we picked up the topic again–vaguely. My hubby and I are having a bit of trouble. He loves touch. I hate it.
“Because touch and abuse are synonymous for you?”
“Basically, yeah. It’s just, he’ll decide he wants sex and I won’t. But he doesn’t leave me alone. He keeps grabbing at me until I finally give in. But I only give in because I want it all to stop.”
“And it feels like your being raped over and over again. Okay, well we’ve got to get this to stop. I’m never going to get you to eat if this is going on….Danielle, this is why we were doing EMDR. So you wouldn’t have to feel this way.”
In my head, I began to question things. EMDR? I thought we were finished with that. I thought we had processed through everything. I guess not if you decide to keep secrets.
Fast forward even further, we continue to dance around the topic.
Until we don’t anymore.
“Can I ask a very delicate question?” She gently asks.
“Yeah go ahead.”
She pauses. I glance over at her, and she takes a deep breath. “Danielle, have you ever been sexually abused?”
I curl up into a ball and stare into the floor. I won’t look at her anymore.
It’s all the confirmation she needs. “Yeah…I thought so.” She says quietly.
She had to ask because I could never manage to tell her myself. I left millions of hints for the last 18 months, but I could never actually bring myself to say it.
“Who did it?”
I give her the answer.
“Has it ever happened before then?”
I pause. Has it? I don’t know the answer to this. I mean, in the legal sense of the word, yeah. But I wanted it. I didn’t feel violated at the time. So it doesn’t count, right? Or does it count? Honestly, I do know the real answer, but for some reason, I question if the experience counts now that we are discussing it.
I guess now is a good time to explain that I am a terrible liar. I don’t usually try, especially with her because I get caught every. damn. time.
She lets it go. But I’m not certain she believes me.
It’s okay. I manage to bring up that incident a few sessions later.
For the last few months I’ve heard:
“Danielle, this is why we were doing EMDR. SO you wouldn’t have to feel this way.” “Can you please explain why we were doing EMDR again? Why did we stop?”
“Okay, well let’s talk about EMDR.”
“You like to be miserable. You like to torture youself.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Yes. You do.”
“Noooo, I don’t.”
She just grins at me slightly amused. “Okay, well it’s time for you to go.”
The truth is, I’m terrified of EMDR when it comes to covering the sexual abuse stuff. It’s not that I don’t want to do it. I would love to get past everything that haunts me. But I’m scared of seeing those images play out in front of me again. I remember how difficult it was to ground myself the couple times those images popped up during our previous EMDR sessions, and I don’t know how I will get through entire sessions completely devoted to the topic sexual abuse.
But mostly, I’m terrified of telling her what happened. The idea of saying any of that out loud is mortifying. It’s what has kept me frozen, and it’s that piece of information I need her to know. I’m not avoiding EMDR because I like to hurt. I’m avoiding EMDR because I’m afraid to say this stuff out loud. Because it’s awkward and uncomfortable. And because I’m pretty certain I can’t keep myself grounded through the process.
Yet as much as I don’t want to tell her anything, I need someone to know exactly what happened to me. I need to share that experience with someone, and not feel so alone in it. I want someone else to validate that experience and say, “Yes, that was rape.” Even though I already know it without a doubt constitutes as rape. I want to finally be heard and understood. I just wish I could do it without words.
I guess this will be my next therapy topic. EMDR, my fears, and okay, so when do we start?