“You nasty, mean, selfish little girl,” the mother screamed. “You ruined everything. Now the group won’t have a project today because you ate the gum drops. Take off that uniform. You don’t deserve to wear it. Go to your room and don’t bother coming out again.”
The words ripped through me and I felt so guilty and ashamed. I was 7 years old. “Mommy, I will take my allowance and go to the store and buy more” I cried. “No!” she responded. “Get out of my sight”. I ran to the bedroom, took off my uniform throwing it on the floor knowing that was worthy of a beating and hid in the closet. I felt safe in the dark hiding in the corner and I sobbed. It didn’t stop there.
The girls showed up and they sat in a group in the living room. I was hiding in my slip. Apparently my mother’s rage and disgust had not subsided. She comes to my room and tells me to get out of the closet. I am in my slip. “Go out there and tell those girls what you did,” she said. I wanted to get dressed and she wouldn’t allow it. Instead she marched me down the hall and made me stand in my slip on the hearth in front of the group and tell them I ruined their project because I ate the gum drops.
I wanted to hide and run away. I looked at my mother and she glared back at me as if she hated me. The shame deepened as the girls stared at me. I had been stripped of my uniform, standing fairly naked in front of my peers feeling condemned.
That memory affected me for nearly 53 years of my life. The feelings of shame and condemnation ran deep. It is only one example of horrific abuse I went through as a child at the hands of my parents. Through EMDR, I went back into that memory and experienced it as it was for the last time.
The EMDR headset is put on. I feel a sense of nervousness in my stomach knowing I was going back into the memory. The anxiousness had been with me all day and it was now culminating as I sat there in the chair and went back to the memory beginning with eating the gumdrops. As I re-experienced the memory, the tears flowed uncontrollably something that didn’t happen back then.
I feel the hurt and the rage inside of me as she spoke to me in hateful ways. As I remembered standing in front of the girls in just my slip, I felt the shame and wanted to cover myself up. I could see my head hanging low. I saw my mother’s hatred for me and remembered she never wanted me and if abortion were legal, I would have been aborted. I sobbed as I felt every physical, emotional and mental experience.
There were 2 other adults present and neither of them stood up and said that it was not okay what she was doing. Their silence supported her. She was relentless. I wanted to please her so much and I always let her down. I felt like dying. I also felt anger towards her – anger that I couldn’t feel or express as a child. “Why are you doing this to me,” I cried out in the memory recall. “You are the mom. Mom’s don’t hurt children like this!” She glared at me. The children stared at me. I sobbed and recalled every nuance of that experience which I hadn’t remembered.
I didn’t want to remember any of this but remembering all of it was important to bring the parts of the memory together in the brain. I struggle with that process as the pain and the memory is so intense. The memories are flooding. My therapist reminds me “you are on a train and you are passing by the memories. It isn’t happening now. You are just seeing them.” The reminder helps. As I feel all the parts of the memory, the power of the memory lessens. It is time to create and install new thoughts and new beliefs. The new thoughts are that I am a good person. I deserve good in my life. I deserve love. I am empowered to make changes in my life.
As I write this, I remember the original experience and the EMDR experience and yet energetically it has changed for me for the positive. Through the EMDR I came to understand that the shame and condemnation was not mine to carry. I was just a little girl and she the parent. Her job was to teach and lead. Children don’t have the ability to think through things. I was a little girl, with a little girl’s brain and a little girl’s body.
I am grateful for the experience of healing through this and while I don’t look forward to going back into the memories, I look forward to reprogramming the brain through EMDR so I am free from the effects and triggers of the memory.