“It takes the ‘uber pain’ out of the memories”, he told me. Dr. Petit and I had been meeting for a little over a year, and while plenty of trust had been established, we were a long way from even scratching the surface of all of the trauma. Unfortunately, my ex-husband was still providing plenty more trauma requiring me to return to court to petition a life time restraining order. He continued to threaten my life and I pretty much lived as a hermit. I was still teaching and honestly, it was that job and those kids that got me through my days.
But once a week, I would leave right after work and drive over the bridge to St. Petersburg and have a one- hour session with Dr. Petit. It was my deal with Crissy and so I kept it. I didn’t hate it. If you have listened to the podcast with Dr. Petit, know that he is as kind and gentle as his voice. Over the course of my life, I’d seen many counselors and I did not trust any of them. Many times, I could outsmart them, fully understanding that they were looking to diagnose me with something that a pill alone could fix. Nobody wanted to admit that they didn’t know what to do with me or my story. Until Dr. Petit followed an urging on his heart to seek to not only understand my trauma, but to help me heal from it.
He and I were still in triage mode as I mentioned, my ex-husband only turned up the volume of the threats after I was hospitalized for five days. I was heavily medicated after that hospitalization, and that was a good thing, numb was good. My body was tired, and it was responding in kind. I was medically hospitalized multiple times in those two short years, and many times spent time on heart monitors connected to the pagers of world class cardiologist at Tampa General Hospital. It was not an awesome time.
When Dr. Petit mentioned to me that he was going to go for more training in additional therapies, I was definitely up for it. He explained the science of it (much of it covered in podcast) I was hooked. I have an undergrad degree in Biology, I was a high school science teacher, so he was speaking my language! He explained to me how trauma interrupts how the two sides of the brain exchange information, he immediately gave me hope that my broken brain could be fixed. I had settled nicely in the thought process that life was as good as it was ever going to be for me, so even a glimmer of hope was salt and light.
It was only recently that I learned why Dr. Petit went for this additional training, he went for one of his friends and ME; he said it was the first time he was prompted to complete new training by a person and not a professional mandate. I really can’t form the words of gratitude to both God and Dr. Petit for that, because those therapies have saved my life. But like everything else, it’s work, it’s not easy. You have to WANT to get better.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing) was on deck first. The second part of the podcast with Dr. Petit has yet to air, but he will explain this as my goal here is only to tell you of my experience with specifically EMDR.
Essentially, EMDR heals the brain allowing our emotional brains and our logical brains to communicate again. When trauma occurs, often times, that traumatic memory gets stuck on a loop in our emotional brains. The logical side doesn’t get a say in the matter because of literal damage to the brain. The war may be over, but the patient has not gotten that memo. Patients are then ruled by emotions and debilitating results of such. That was me. All kinds of memories and lies I believed were indeed stuck in that emotional side, and I had zero ability to believe anything but what my brain told me. My brain was not telling me nice things. My hope was weak anyway, but before EMDR I was just going through the motions again, the only difference was this time I was medicated.
My first EMDR session must have been in late 2009. Dr. Petit, in true form, had found a way to invite God into the process, and so the truths we wanted to “weave” into both sides of my brain FIRST needed to be truths that would never change, ever. I chose the promise of Psalm 139. I chose it BECAUSE I DID NOT BELIEVE IT. After establishing that truth through EMDR therapy, the first trauma we processed was related to my ex-husband and all the pain related to him. If Dr. Petit could help take away the ‘uber pain’ of anything, John Watson was top on my list. As I was sharing one of the many stories with him, immediately three words just popped in my head “I deserved better”. I said it out loud and Dr. Petit sat back in his chair a little stunned (as was I) that in just the first session, a truth we had not even planned just came bursting through all the lies. “Yes, you did deserve better, he said” and suddenly I believed that was true. All the lies that easily ruled me now hit a wall of truth, because I did deserve better.
After a successful “weave” like this was for me, every time an intrusive memory from that time in my life enters my conscious my logical brain shoots that strong emotional brain a message: “YOU DESERVED BETTER”, and that is almost always what flushes me with peace when I think of that time in my life.
I left his office that day, a believer in EMDR, and now almost 12 years later, I can honestly say that this therapy and my doctor’s wisdom in introducing God in the process is the reason I am here to write this to you today.
This game is long and the mission is impotant.
You are the mission. And so we will keep shouting Hope from where we are.