I have been doing EMDR therapy now for close to one year. I remember when I started looking for a therapist sometime a year ago. I was really nervous but luckily, I had been doing the training for EMDR to become a practitioner so I had already tried it a couple of times. I did not have the intense and amazing results that I know are possible during my training. I think this was because people were just learning. However, the healing that I have gotten from EMDR makes me want to tell you this, please try it if you are struggling with flashbacks and trauma-related symptoms. I know it sounds like a hefty price tag and also, the limitations and risks seem large. This is nothing compared to the results that you might get. This is backed by science! EMDR has been around since the 1980s but it’s only recently gained more popularity. Clients tend to be very afraid of EMDR if I’m honest. I have not figured out a way to help them understand that there is a lot of pain but you get a lot of gain.
One of my most incredible experiences during an EMDR session:
TRIGGER WARNING: Gun violence, violence against queer people.
I want to celebrate an EMDR success story! EMDR = Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. I am going through the reprocessing of all my traumatic memories now. I have not told this story to many people, I hid it. Now it’s time to speak about it.
When I had just come out at 14 years old in the town of Spryfield, located in the outskirts of Halifax, Nova Scotia, my ex-girlfriend and I were walking down the street close to my family home when a person (who may or may not be affiliated with a gang) had shot at us while they were driving. They did not hit us, they hit the bus shelter next to us. We had hit the ground and all I could hear was shattered glass. I just completed an EMDR session about this today. I not only have so much compassion for myself but I have so much compassion for the perpetrator as well. I didn’t expect this to happen, honestly! For so long, this memory felt like a dream. I must have dissociated. Now I remember how brave I was to protect me and my ex. I protected the perpetrator as he was black and would have been brutalized/thrown in jail for a long time. NS was very racist and still is. He probably didn’t care about my being queer as much as it felt to me at the time. Perhaps he was following orders. I know the climate in this neighborhood and many people had various marginalized identities. I know he probably didn’t actually want to kill us. He might have missed for a reason. I also protected my family by not telling them (believe it or not) because I knew they were so scared about my wellbeing when I came out. I did not want them to freak out about it and make it worst for my mental health. Obviously there is no way to go back into the closet and I was not even going to entertain the idea (even after getting shot at). I think I did the right thing. I feel much better about it now. I can’t believe a 14 year old was able to do such a thorough risk assessment. And now, it is resolved for me!
This was the processing that I was able to have through EMDR and it solved a lot of things for me. Most of my EMDR success stories actually happen AFTER the session. Like how particular names or behaviors no longer trigger me, I am more compassionate towards myself and others, and I feel that I am able to regulate myself better a lot of the time. I was able to have conversations with people who had severely traumatized me and have compassion towards them. I never even thought I would ever talk to this person! This is stuff that I thought was not possible, I’ll be honest! I never thought this type of healing was possible, but it is. It has changed my world.