Following Fingers

Why didn’t I dare to talk to my mom that last day? Why didn’t I dare to touch her? Why was I so clinical about what happened? Why? Why? Why? So many questions. She will get me to talk about the memory, get me to be IN the memory, and then I will have to follow her fingers while she asks me questions…
~ From: PTSD & EMDR

There was one image stuck in my mind from the day my mom died: the moment the doctor made contact with her, only about an hour after I woke up that morning and realized the end was near. I kept on seeing that image, and kept on asking myself those same questions over and over. Each time I saw that image in my mind, I felt the tears. Each time the questions raced through my mind, I pushed them away. I could never write about my mom, and what happened that day, without tears in my eyes.

Now I can.

Just before the first EMDR treatment, the psychologist asked me to tell her about the image. I told her that I don’t know why I didn’t make contact with my mom. That I felt like I had done it wrong; that I should have done more.
“Rationally,” I said, “I know what I did was good, but I don’t feel it.”
She asked me more questions about the image. I had to describe it to her, while tears streamed down my face.

I see myself as a dark shadow outside the picture, totally not part of it, and looking at my mom and the doctor with a feeling of… I don’t know. A dark feeling. Jealousy maybe? I don’t feel part of the picture. I am but an outsider.

She moved her chair to the side of the desk and ask me to move mine too. We sat sideways, next to each other, each facing the other direction. She explained that she would be holding her hand up, that I had to follow the tops of her fingers while she moved her hand from left to right and back again.

Now I cannot clearly remember exactly what she said I should do the first time (or the times after that), but she would move her fingers for about a minute, then made a circle with her hand and check in with me: tell me your thoughts, what do you feel in your body, in your mind?

I do remember that right after the first time I couldn’t even tell her what I was thinking. I had to keep the image in mind and I think I had to ask myself if I did anything wrong. I said I did what I had to do, what was right at that moment. She asked me to hold onto the thought while I see the image in my head again. Then she started moving her fingers again. It might have been the third time that she waved with her hand that I literally felt my shoulders relax. No, not relax. It was as if a huge weight started slipping from my shoulders. When she checked in, I told her I could feel the tension flowing from my body.

“Hold onto that feeling and look at the image again.”
I did.

I have absolutely no clarification for how EMDR works, but there came a moment (I think we were busy for about 20 minutes) where she asked me to describe the image to her again.

I see the doctor talking to mom, hear mom’s words and know she’s ready to go. She wants to go to sleep, forever, and it’s good. I am there as her daughter and I know having the doctor there was good for mom, and me. The picture is… lighter?

She ended the EMDR there. She wanted to know if I wanted to work on another picture, or carry on at the next appointment. I opted for the last, because I couldn’t get my mind around it: the picture in my mind was literally lighter. The dark feeling I had was gone. I could look at it in my mind without choking up with tears. I said as much to the psychologist and she said that what I said in the beginning was key: “Rationally, I know what I did was good, but I don’t feel it.”

All the EMDR had done was to help me feel it. See, I know what I did from the moment we heard mom was ill until her funeral, I did because it felt right. I did it because it had to be done. I followed my feeling. And then, over the past months, I started second-guessing myself, while deep down i knew what I did was right. I have gotten too caught up in my own thoughts.

As I sit here, only two days after the treatment, I can still not believe the effect the EMDR had on me. I feel calm, and where the sadness for mom’s passing is not gone and will never be, there seems to be more light. I have another EMDR session scheduled in a couple of days, but as I feel now, I don’t think it will be necessary. It seems that this one sessions has cleared a blockage that allows me to see all the other memories in a different light. Seriously, ever since the treatment I have been and still am asking myself: is this it?

I feel lighter. Different.

I’m definitely holding onto this feeling…

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© Rebel’s Notes

7 thoughts on “Following Fingers

  1. I can’t thank you enough for writing about this and taking the fear of this type of process away for me. I’m so heartened to read that it is helping you, it’s amazing really. X

  2. I am so glad it is helping – this was difficult to read – memories about my own mum – but very important to write and glad you did. xx

    1. Sorry for triggering your memories, May, but indeed… this was important to write xox

  3. This is brilliant to read and very inspiring. I’m starting EMDR therapy soon and although your reasons for pursuing it are very different from mine in the main it’s fantastic to read that you’ve had such a positive outcome. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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