Posted: 28 July 2017 in therapy

Another go at EMDR was more successful than the last. For me, anyway. Phoebe (that’s the therapist) says it’s all successful in that even talking about the trauma and not “doing” anything about it helps. I’m not entirely convinced I A) should even be there and B) am at all capable of getting through this. She looked a bit mystified when I told her that and, after reassuring me that I was actively getting through it, wondered at part A. Why do you think you shouldn’t be here, she asked?

It’s because there are so many worse traumas in the world. Like the friend who lost his dad in the twin towers on 9/11. Or the children who are abused. Or the adults who are assaulted. I can’t quite reconcile my role in these memories with the level of trauma I think counts as actual trauma. Why can’t I get over this, after all? Why is it so hard? Phoebe is struck by the disconnect and reassured me, again, that this is trauma with the big T.

We spent most of our time revisiting the moment I witnessed the drowning. It’s so distant when I put it like that. So…third person. It was me who threw the life preserver. Me who could have jumped off the bow of the boat to try to lift him up to breathe air. Me who watched, helplessly, as the life preserver drifted on the surface of the river. Me who reeled it back in and rode away in the boat. I did everything I could, that much I’m sure of. I could only have jumped in but there were hippos and crocodiles and I didn’t know why two perfectly good swimmers hadn’t been able to stay afloat. It wasn’t safe. That was a fair choice.

During the EMDR I focused on that moment. Which brought me (of course, it’s always the same) to fast, hot tears. I ached for his mother. I felt overwhelmingly sad that his life had ended in a cold muddy African river and not in old age, quietly, in some sort recliner, equally old dog at his side. Phoebe asked me to dive back into my own physical feelings and I did. In that way it’s much like mindfulness. My stomach hurts, my shoulders tighten. The EMDR sets were shorter than I remember them from the first time but perhaps that’s because I lost my shit and so we’re taking baby steps.

He should have gotten to have a baby of his own. I can’t even remember his name.


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