Michelle and I have had our first session with our trauma and EMDR therapist last week. In that hour and a half, we both shared our war stories and filled out all sorts of assessment forms. We don’t start the actual EMDR until the third session, but already, I’ve encountered an amazing epiphany. I would like to share this with you, because I found it all so healing. If you see some correlation wtih your own lives, I hope it helps you too.
When I recounted all of the hardships and tragedies I’ve had since, well, birth really, the therapist looked stunned and said, “How have you survived?” I don’t share this to evoke pity like “Wah, wah, woe is me,” because that idea just turns my stomach. The challenges I’ve had to endure just are. I embrace them (now, anyway) as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. Next, she asked me specific questions about my outlook on life, myself and others. I told her the weird thing about me is I can only feel joy vicariously. I set someone up to experience happiness, and it enlivens me. Feeling joy directly has been impossible for me for as long as I can remember. For that reason, I don’t really do anything to spoil or pamper myself, not because I don’t think I’m worth it, but because it doesn’t fulfill me. I’d much rather take my daughter out for a mani pedi than treat myself to one. (One look at my toenails and fingernails, and you’ll know I’m not stretching the truth here. I’d post a picture, but the Internet probably has it’s aesthetic limits.)
What the therapist said next floored me. She said that when people like me experience such a long and relentless string of traumas from which we feel we cannot escape, we gain a sense of hopelessness. We give up on finding any joy for ourselves as if to say, “It’s too late for me. There is no light at the end of my tunnel.” This is a natural response after getting up and brushing ourselves off after one trauma, only to be slammed to the floor shortly afterwards over and over and over again. My therapist feels I developed this outlook even as a little girl. Once coming to the realization that my life was essentially unsalvageable, I made the subconscious decision to heal and enrich the lives of others. This is probably why I became a doctor, why I had so many children, and why I hold parenting to such a sacrosanct level. It’s why I’m the one who people seek out when they want help in a number of different ways. And it’s why I find happiness through nurturing. This is not a good thing, because it’s very unbalanced. Love must flow in a circle to and fro without impedance. When it’s dammed up, we deny it’s full expression.
I notice that many blog members have also had difficult lives, really sucky ones, in fact. And I see in them a similar desire to place others before themselves. But there is no reason we can’t have our cake and eat it too! We should be able to tend to our own needs and wants without detracting from our desire to nurture others. I’m not sure how I’m going to get there, but I bet it’s going to take a lot of therapy! I’ll keep you posted in hopes that this and future epiphanies might help anyone else in the Channeling Erik family.
Here are some pictures of my sisters and me when we were little. We were a tight group. Still are.
Stay tuned for Channeling Jon Benet Ramsey, Part Two tomorrow. Also, the winner of the membership drive contest will be announced on Friday. It’s a close race, so if you’d like to win a free session with Jamie and Erik, please refer your friends, co-workers, and family and have them email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On another note, I can’t believe I buried my son two years ago today. I miss you, Erik.
Love to you all.