Rebecca (Becky) Erven is a part of Team PTI, she is a Senior Training Coach and an EMDRIA Consultant in Training.
As Dorothy tapped her sparkly red slippers together and repeated “there’s no place like home” she helped us realize that “wisdom is not so much granted by a wizard or teacher so much as it is realized by the individual by searching within.”- Brenda Huskey
Dorothy was looking for a way to get back home. I wanted nothing more than to get as far from mine as possible.
From a very early age, I was consistently told I wasn’t worth a nickel (yes, those exact words). I was not allowed to express emotion, and felt that I only existed for others to use or abuse.
If I went to the Wizard as a little girl I would have asked him for a self. I didn’t own my identity. I didn’t even know I had one. I remember a moment in time, in my 20’s, when I realized my favorite actress was Bette Davis, and that actually rocked my world. Liking an actress is not particularly earth shattering to most people, but realizing I had a favorite anything was actually a surprise to me! Who I was or what I liked or wanted was never important to anyone when I was a child.
I dared not dream of anything because the reality of the abuse was in my face every day, whether I wanted it to be or not. Why would I dream of something good when the reality was what I wanted didn’t matter, that I didn’t matter?
The moment I realized I had a favorite actress, something shifted for me. Something wonderful! It was at that moment that I realized I was actually a person with my own thoughts and value. I did not have to continue to be invisible. Maybe I was actually worth being seen! That was a scary revelation.
Being seen was certainly nothing I ever wanted as a child. If I was seen, I was either punished, made fun of, or shunned. So I hid, even from myself. If nobody else could love me, why would I?
I did an EMDR session to address some issues that stemmed from childhood. As a part of the process, the therapist asked to talk to “little Becky.” She was the one I had long ago discarded as weak and pathetic. I didn’t like her. I saw little Becky as one who did not stand up for herself and because of that I cut off from her. That session was powerful and opened up the possibility that maybe Little Becky wasn’t such a pathetic person after all. Maybe her only job was to survive the abuse and she did a great job of that.
Some time ago my husband saw a photo of me as a little girl having a tea party with a stuffed animal, and he recreated that tea party to include him, me, …and little Becky. He loved little Becky, and wanted the grown up Becky to reconnect with her. At the time I did not realize that’s what I was doing, but it helped me to begin to love little Becky too.
Whether we are searching for courage, connection, love, or anything in between, EMDR takes us through the process of looking at our maladaptive beliefs and behaviors and seeing them for what they are- LIES! When we see the lies clearly, our brains tap into our adaptive memory networks and a whole new world of possibilities opens up to us. Like when the 1950’s movie went from black and white to brilliant Technicolor, the way we see the world changes. Dorothy steps into this amazing new land and finds joy and wonder along the way. But the most amazing thing is, it’s been there all along!
So why don’t we just skip merrily along the yellow brick road?
As Deborah Kennard, founder of Personal Transformation Institute says, “Anything that keeps up from being a shining star is either a lie or a memory.”
One of the problems is that we want to stay as far away from those memories as we can. We’ve spent years filling our lives with others things- work, alcohol, drama, etc. just to stay away from those memories and their impact. Another problem is that the lies feel so true- “I am a busy mom and I just can’t find the time for (fill in the blank),” “I have to be perfect,” “I have to be in control”, “If I fail I’m a loser,” “I can’t get rid of this anxiety,” “I am incompetent”….. the list can be endless. So what is limiting you? What do you need to not be bound to the lies?
Do you need more courage? Do you believe you’re not smart enough, or just simply not enough? Do you believe you’re not lovable? Or do you just want to get back home- back to that place where you felt safe, productive, and loved? Maybe you’ve never even known a place like that. “Surely it must exist” you say, while thinking that if it does exist, it may as well be over then rainbow, for all the chance you have of finding it.
And such is the nature of trauma. The enormity of the trauma wounds and the attachment wounds can render some people helpless, or hopeless, or ridden with anxiety, anger, or confusion.
Over time my belief that I was “less than nothing” diminished and my system tapped into long-silent adaptive memory networks that reminded me of how deeply I was loved by my grandparents. I also began to notice other good things, like how others were drawn to my gentle spirit, and the things I had overcome. I started believing I had something good to offer, that I actually had great worth. I was proud of being honest, loyal, hardworking, and an avid learner. I began to achieve things that I never dreamed I would achieve. My entire belief system changed.
This paradigm shift is what happens in good EMDR therapy. The lies are exposed and the adaptive memory networks are available to help us navigate to the truth.
As we search within, using the EMDR model, we open up our world and our hearts. We can begin to see the truth instead of lies. We can see where we are going and not just where we are stuck. Maybe the most glorious part of the EMDR process is that we don’t ever have to go back. As we head down our own yellow brick road, it can be a scary, but beautiful, moment when we realize we’re not in Kansas anymore.