Names key to this story:
Rick – one of the strangers, now a dear friend, that waited with me for 3hrs while the rescue team attempted to reach me
Jack – one of the rescuers who was front and center at my rescue
Today was my first session of a very simple yet powerful way to release stuck traumatic experiences called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is performed by a trained therapist. The body has cellular memory and though I don’t recall my hiking fall, my body still holds the trauma.
To make a long story short, I’ve decided to seek out EMDR because I had flashbacks after some dental work I had on the part of my jaw that incurred injury during my hiking fall in 2009. I had 3 teeth uprooted and fractured my jaw requiring surgery and 9 weeks of eating only liquid foods. I now have a titanium plate where the fractures were. Among the laundry list of other physical injuries, this one came to life during, and especially after, the dentist completed her work a few weeks ago. I have never had any qualms about going to the dentist before this. Never. I sat in the dental chair with my heart pounding, my mind racing, my eyes filled with tears. As I sat with the emotions, the Gina of today felt a deep compassion for what the body had encountered and how much fear it held.
The flashbacks weren’t of the actual fall or any of the two weeks I was in a semi-conscious state. They were a flood of memories from two weeks into my hospital stay. These memories were detailing my need for help out of bed, into the wheelchair, in and out of the bathroom, during physical, occupational and speech therapy and on and on. My logical mind of today could deduce in re-witnessing the play-by-play that I was extremely injured. And my body was remembering how broken I had been. My recurring thought was “Wow, I was so broken.”
Instead of detailing my experience of EMDR, I will be concise by sharing the highlights. In the session, I got to a point where I could vision myself, in my mind’s eye, on a gurney in a dire state. There was urgency in the air, the intensity of ‘emergency’ all around me. I saw that my mind was completely submersed in the moment and my body was frightened of the murky unknown. Gradually, as the therapist asked me to tune into that, I became aware of a hard-to-grasp contradiction. In addition to intense fear, I felt I was safe, I was in good hands and everyone who needed to be there was there. I felt an overwhelming amount of support and love pouring to me. As I sat with the love that was flooding in, the emergency began to diminish. The vision of me on the gurney was shrinking, fading to but a small cluster of light amid these gigantic billowing clouds. I could feel the energy of Rick’s immense outpouring of love and concern and the complete dedication and determination of Jack. I then sensed the additional care and support of my friends, Rick’s family, the rescue team and others. This outpouring of care and concern was forming white puffy clouds around my frail body.
In the gurney, my body at that time was over-stimulated and fully preoccupied with survival – this abundance of love was holding me up. But in holding this memory in the present moment in the therapist’s office, I felt the love and concern being absorbed into every cell in my body. I was soaking up the energy of everyone that surrounded the emergency and by doing so the weak, coiled-in body of that day on Half Dome grew stronger and brighter. I felt compelled to sit up straight in my chair and roll my shoulders back. I stated the words “I am no longer broken.”