Grief Relived

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Today I went to therapy and Eamonn administered EMDR for the second time. We went through all seven steps for working on one set of related situations. The set included seeing a TSA officer checking IDs and plane tickets, which has been a trigger, and being on the phone answering Brooklyn Hospital’s hotline the night of 9-11-01.

I am spent. I have a headache. I feel like I can sleep right now for a long time. Aside from the headache I don’t have any other physical pain. During the session, I felt nauseated and my jaw was tense. These were the sensations I felt when practicing SER (TIPI) on the same trigger.

While I feel desensitized from the trigger – if I think about approaching the identification-checking TSA officers at the airports I’ve frequented – I also feel somewhat unresolved. It seems that the tension and feelings of nausea will return.

Sometimes I feel cynicism on my motorcycle, which makes me more precautious on the road. After leaving therapy, this cynicism persisted as I walked toward Gwen, my bike, to head home. I wanted nothing to do with the people around me, especially on that corner in downtown San Francisco where Eamonn’s office is: Beggars, homeless, lower working class, and poverty-stricken people. I felt guarded, just like my early days of PTSD-enlightenment.

Now I feel a bit dissociated. Though my best friend is about to come pick me up to go out to dinner, I only feel a little excited. Otherwise, I want to cry. My mind keeps wanting to relive the phone hotline. It’s as if part of me doesn’t want to lose that experience. I want to remember how it felt. I just don’t want remnants of the memory to take over every time I go to the airport.

The physical sensations that occurred while on the hospital hotline were different. I felt fatigue in my back and tension in my temples. These also returned while going through EMDR, but the sensations didn’t last. Maybe because my mind kept going to my safe place. (With EMDR, the safe place is somewhere that is most comfortable. For me, it’s my bed, which is made of horsehair. This was the thought I had to hold on to during our first EMDR session.) I had a hard time bringing back the memory of being on the phone, telling people, “I’m sorry,” and remembering how hopeless I felt.

Now I feel sad. My headache is better, but now my shoulders are tense. My belly has started to feel upset. This is how grief feels to me. I feel that I am on the verge of tears, but little comes out. I am somewhat numb. In a way, I feel like I woke up from a disturbing dream and am trying to process it.

Sometimes in order to heal well, we need painful surgery.

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