Today it begins

The light bar is on the floor when you enter the room. The length of a fluorescent office light it sits on a tripod. And although you both move to our usual place you remain aware of it.

Today it begins.

Last week she explained how it worked. Inside your brain something is stuck. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the experience the brain refused to process it. And it’s there. Stuck. And you cope. For years you cope. You have strategies, ways in which it does not dominate day to day life. Avoiding. Ways to push it out of the way. But the effort of doing that wears you down. Until

Until

The barriers were breached and the raw emotion, the distress, the fear, that raw emotion flowed, flooded. And it was there. It is there. Every day.

And to progress from functioning to living the brain needs to move this, to process the overwhelming visceral experience into memory – upsetting memory, but a memory you can reflect on rather than relive. And the light bar is intended to help nudge it along.

You talk. How has the week been? Any stresses, upsets? You talk, pause, stumble over words as you recall the conversation on new year’s morning where you were back in the kitchen, opened the curtains, saw the

– I was trying to avoid. You’d said to try to stay calm, relaxed, but

– This process only works with exposure. You might not have planned it, but you’re in the place. Ready.  And this exposure will help.

– Is there anything?

– It’s the anxiety of anticipation, not knowing what I’ll feel, what will happen.

– We don’t have to start today. Any questions, any worries, just ask and I’ll

– I want to. The longer I wait the worse I’ll feel. So I want, no, need to.

– Shall we begin?

You nod, change seat. The room lights are switched off, the window closed. The light bar is raised, and a buzzer placed in each hand. As the light moves left then right then left then right you feel it vibrate in each hand in turn.

She opens the file, checks the notes and takes out a pen.

She asks you to think about the incident, to focus on an image.

It is in your head.

Your breathing shallows.

It’s there.

Stuck.

In your head.

You feel a tightness in your shoulders, in your chest.

– What do you feel?

– Fear.

– Guilt.

– Worthless

– Any other emotions?

You whisper, inaudible. Your eyes prickle. The heat of tears.

Her voice is quiet:

– can you formulate this as an “I am” statement?

You feel the tears.

– If you can.

– I am nothing.

– I deserve this.

– I am worthless.

You become aware of tears on your nose.

– And what do you want?

– I want

– I want to matter.

You are aware of her writing a note.

– I’m going to put on the lights. You follow them and concentrate on the image. Focus on that. And on the emotion. “I am worthless”. Focus on that.

And she switches on the lights.

And you watch them

Right

And left

And right

And left

And you feel the buzzer

Right

And left

And right

And left

And the light stops in the middle

– And what do you notice?

– My shoulders are tight.

– Take a moment to notice that.

And she switches on the lights

And you watch them

And you feel the buzzer

Right

And left

And right

And left

And right

And left

And you can barely see the light move right as you cry.

“I am worthless”

You have started.

This will take some time. 

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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3 Responses to Today it begins

  1. Pingback: Some personal posts | Love and Garbage – some commonplace musings

  2. Chris says:

    Healing from what you went through is a process, it takes time, but you have done the really hard part, you have started.

    That voice, the ‘I am worthless’, is real, but it is lying. It is a wicked, spiteful, angry voice, but it’s not yours.

    You are good enough.
    You have value.
    You are worthy.
    You are loveable.

    Thank you for your courage.

    Much love

    Chris

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