EMDR, Francine Shapiro and Vibrators

Does anyone find it strange that you can hold two vibrators to rewire things in your brain?  I can’t shake this thought as my therapist hands over the mouse-like vibrators used for EMDR. I know there’s a headphone option and some eye thing that you can do, but I started with the vibrators and I’m a creature of habit.

Still, I couldn’t help but to think about the person who thought “Eureka! Vibrators are the answer for trauma survivors!”  I googled EMDR and voilà, up came www.emdr.com. How easy they made it.  Apparently the brilliant person is Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. She looks nice enough.

Healer Lady talked to me about EMDR several times before I finally took the leap. I was chicken about the whole thing. Mostly it was because I just didn’t get it. It was a little too hippie-dippie for my taste. I couldn’t imagine how rolling my eyes around, listening to an annoying beep or holding a vibrator in the wrong spot was going to do me any good.  But  Healer Lady pressed on in that therapeutic way she does and I finally caved.

One EMDR session later and I was a believer.  It was amazing. I thought I was damn near close to cashing in and saying hasta la vista to Healer Lady.  Yes, it was that good and it definitely unearthed a lot.  But, it turned out I couldn’t hack all that unearthing all at once, and I decided I needed a break.

Skip forward several weeks: after three-hours of flashbacks the other night, I was ready to march into my session with the Great Healer and demand of myself a renewed commitment to EMDR.  I felt confident. Self-assured. Bold. So, I sat down and her asked about her weekend.

This is typical of me. Although I’m in therapy, I still dodge it.  Luckily, Healer Lady can work with this. After informing her about my flashbacks and anxiety, she simply said “We gotta work through it.” That’s code for “Here are the vibrators.  Now let’s get to work.”

Identifying that my mom is a current trigger, we determined that I needed to start with an image of her.  Pinching my eyes shut, I gripped mouse-like vibrators in each hand, waiting for them to work their magic.  I heard the switch flip on and short, soft vibrations bounced repeatedly from left hand to right hand for several minutes.

The image of mom’s face quickly shifted to a situation that plays over and over again in my head.  I’m 9 or 10. I’m in a physical confrontation with my father. Mom walks into my bedroom in her robe,  wearing an expression of cluelessness, pretending not to hear my effort to fight back. His hands release me as she says meekly, “What’s going on in here?” He responds, “None of your fucking business,” as he exits. She doesn’t say anything. She gives me an angry look. I’m drained and confused.

This is exactly what I hate her for and it was EMDR that unearthed it.  The supposed not noticing. The lack of comfort after these “episodes” as she called them. The failure to say “It’s not you. It’s not your fault.” Sitting across from my therapist, I feel the urge to cry almost immediately, but no tears come.

I’ve never been able to say “I hate my mom.” It’s the kind of hurtful language that scars. Before being a parent, I understood that hate wasn’t said lightly.  I actually don’t think I employed the word except to describe my feelings about fried liver and onions for dinner. Now, as a mother to Nugget, the word means much more than that. It’s a threat. Adolescent years aside, it terrifies me to think that I could do something to Nugget that would make her hate me. Like, really hate me. Like in her body, hate. It’s with my new parental perspective that I feel justified in saying it about my own mom. I understand the weight of it. The search for another word has resulted in nothing other than a full circle back to hate.

I couldn’t say this out loud before this EMDR session.  I don’t quite know how it works, and I’ll admit to some willful ignorance here. I don’t want to know how it works. It might ruin it. I just know that it does its thing.

Specific to this situation, I’m no longer cluelessly carrying the feeling of hate toward mom, I’m embracing it. Seems like EMDR is working.


About Mama's Tantrum

Midlife tantrum: Mothering a toddler while healing from childhood trauma. And trying not to throw a full-blown tantrum. View all posts by Mama's Tantrum

2 responses to “EMDR, Francine Shapiro and Vibrators

  • how much are stamps

    i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

    • Mama's Tantrum

      thank you. i hadn’t seen your comment until today and i really needed it. it’s helpful to know that my insanity is, at the very least, a good read.

      how’d you hear about the blog? just curious. i’m a rookie at this stuff, so i’m a sponge for feedback.

      thanks for taking the time to write. really. i appreciate it.

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