AFTER EMDR: WHAT NEXT?

I had my final EMDR session. It went well, as these things go, meaning that I was little more than a quaking wreck by the time I walked out the door. At the end of every session I go ‘into my safe place’, which means I close my eyes and imagine I am in St. Julian’s church in Norwich, kneeling before the altar. I surrender everything to God and I pray the Lord’s Prayer. As I pray, I imagine all the people who have knelt in that place, including Lady Julian, all who have prayed and praised and lived out their lives for God. How wonderful it is to recall centuries of prayers and centuries of saints whose shoulders we stand upon.

Do not be afraid—I will save you.
    I have called you by name—you are mine…”

Isaiah 43:1 (GNT)

Afterwards, at home and curled up on the day bed, I was listening to ‘Flash’ by Rachel Anne Ridge. She quoted the above verse. I recall a friend giving me the same verse several years ago, when life seemed like nothing more than a long, dark tunnel. I couldn’t see the light at the end of it, but I had faith in The Light, if that makes sense. I clung to the belief that just because I was in the tunnel it didn’t mean that light couldn’t exist. It was what might be termed a ‘dark night’, but eventually I found myself able to see the light again. I was bruised and scarred, but I could see.

In ‘Flash’ Rachel Anne Ridge describes the moment she recognised all the names, all the identities, she had taken on herself:

damaged

defeated

afraid

alone

unloved

etc., etc.

I suspect Rachel is not alone and that many of us have borne a long list of negative names for ourselves. It is a prolonged process to become free of the sticky web of lies. As I have learned through the years, abuse shapes a person’s sense of self so deeply that often we’re unaware of it (this is partly why we are commanded not to judge one another – but that’s a post for another day). Sometimes the world creeps in and tells me that because I am not such-and-such, because I haven’t done such-and-such, I am worth less than other people, I am somehow a failure. Now that I have finished EMDR, I admit I haven’t a clue where God will lead and of course I am wondering. Will I get a job? Will I complete my degree? How will I serve Him? What does He want me to do? Will He make use of the talents He gave me?

I have been praying recently, knowing that EMDR was coming to an end, about where my life will go. I know it sounds daft but sometimes I feel my life has been wasted. I’m rapidly approaching 40 and yet there are so many things I’ve never done. I feel odd and foolish when I’m around other people who have done all sorts of different things. But maybe – just maybe – that’s a good thing. Maybe God has given me a gift because I have learned (am learning) that my value is not in what I do or who I am. My value, my dignity, is a gift from God, God-breathed and God-inhaled, and that is a gift worth sharing.

Ridge also says:

‘That afternoon, it hit me: as a child of God, I belong to Him. He made me. He owns me. I am His… Only He has the right to name me… My identity is in Him. He has given me a new name. I am not what I do. My value doesn’t come from my successes or my failures. What I do comes from who I am, not the other way around. My value is inherent, not earned.’

I reached the end of the chapter. Still of a prayerful mind, I felt the stirrings of praise and out poured this song:

‘…I saw the Lord… sitting on his throne, high and exalted… Around him flaming creatures were standing… They were calling out to each other:

“Holy, holy, holy!
The Lord Almighty is holy!
His glory fills the world.”’

Isaiah 6:1-3 (GNT)

I looked up the passage from Isaiah that talks about the angels singing ‘holy, holy, holy’. Then, as I read the following verses, it was like God tapping me on the shoulder. It’s as if He was saying, “You’re useful to me, even if you don’t see it.”

‘I said, “There is no hope for me! I am doomed because every word that passes my lips is sinful, and I live among a people whose every word is sinful. And yet, with my own eyes I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the creatures flew down to me, carrying a burning coal that he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, “This has touched your lips, and now your guilt is gone, and your sins are forgiven.”

Then I heard the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?”

I answered, “I will go! Send me!”’

Isaiah 6:5-8 (GNT)

I hope these words are useful to you, too, dear reader. God bless.

Lessons from My Daughter

My dear Fluff, who began secondary school recently <gulp> (how old does that make me?) was given detention today. This is the same girl who won the Year 5 award for ‘Best Attitude to Learning’ and Year 6 award for ‘Exemplary Behaviour’. She accidentally lost her bag containing her homework on Friday (long story) but found it again this morning. It was a genuine mistake and she is only 11 years old. Today she told the relevant teacher and said teacher insisted she was lying and doled out a detention. “You’re lying to me and you lied to Mr. Smith.” The teacher said.

I asked Fluff, after she came home and told me of the exchange, if she would like me to write a note confirming that Fluff had indeed lost her bag over the weekend. “No,” she replied, shrugging, “I know I didn’t lie so it doesn’t matter. If someone wants to think I’m a liar that’s their problem.”

I was seriously taken aback by this. Speechless, in fact! I know if someone called me a liar I’d be fuming. I would have been mortified to have had even one detention at her age. It made me think, though, about where that fuming comes from and why it would make me feel that way. I do know that children who are sexually abused are often told ‘not to tell’ because they ‘will be called a liar’, and they fear ‘telling’ because to tell the terrible secret and have no one believe you would somehow make everything worse… (in a child’s mind, this makes sense). Also, during my first marriage I was called everything derogatory under the sun by the ex-husband, and because I ‘absorbed’ his emotions and had no sense of self I took all those things into myself. I believed I was worthless and stupid and lazy and ignorant and a thousand other things I’m too polite to repeat.

I don’t know what to make of this. When you’re still figuring out who you are at hurtling towards 40 over 30, part of recovery is figuring out what’s normal.  The trouble is, there’s no such thing as normal, so I just try to figure out who God wants me to be. It’s very liberating, actually. I am not tied to things most people of my age are. But some things still take me by surprise. Like my astonishing daughter. We must be doing something right to have a daughter like this, don’t you think?