EMDR do you always work a memory to completion?

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
I’m just wondering how other people have worked with EMDR. Do you work a memory until it’s calmed or do you move around and sometimes come back?

The memory I’m working with at the moment seems like it’s going nowhere except frustrating me. We’ve spent two sessions on it but I’m stuck with mini-me’s joy at seeing the abuser and I don’t seem to be able to get around it to do any real work with it.

I told T I feel like shaking child self because why the hell she finds joy in his visit I do not understand, especially since she knows how it ends. He advised I shake her, yeah she just fast forwarded the memory to when she isn’t happy and said fine here ya go. T asked me to ask her what she expected would happen, she thought he brought her something but hadn’t thought past that. I want to say, well you got your present live with your choices. I know that won’t help and I can feel her terror as much as her joy so while I’m angry, I’m not angry enough to do that.

Anyway I don’t want to revisit the memory because if I’m not getting anywhere what’s the point? I don’t actually think being angry at myself, more than normal is all that helpful. So I’m wondering how others handle when they aren’t getting anywhere? I’m inclined to try a different memory but honestly I’m not sure I have one that’s any easier.
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
@Friday isn’t the point of EMDR to process the memory so it can be folded neatly into a file? Right now I feel like I’m taking the crumpled memory and instead of trying to smooth it out I’m soaking it in accelerant and trying to get the lighter to work. I don’t know maybe thats part of the process?

It doesn’t feel like change in a good direction. By that I mean it seems like the goal is for me to find a way to help mini me but if I can only be angry at her my experience is that she just shuts the door on me. Yep mini me is as stubborn as the rest of me but seems twice as likely to shut me out…wish she’d done that to him, not like he didn’t betray her plenty.

So @Friday if this falls under hard truths can be gotten through does that mean yes you work a memory to completion or does it depend? Don’t worry I hear you pushing me to work this one.
 

Friday

Moderator
o @Friday if this falls under hard truths can be gotten through does that mean yes you work a memory to completion or does it depend?
I’m not an EMDR trained therapist.

So I really can’t say.

At least not from the perspective of completion v incomplete.

But? It makes total sense that if the you IN that time stream is excited & childishly/age-appropriately responding in ONE way, whilst your present self is WTF?!? … that the separation between past & present?. IS happening. Just not all at once. So you’re kind of stuck. Between past & present.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I have no idea out EMDR, as i have never done it.
So this won't answer your question. But thought I would just highlight what I noticed in your post that maybe is progress to hold on to?
You and younger you are communicating. That is a massive step. Might not feel like it and you're seeing things in different ways, but there is communication between those two parts.
Communication is part of the process to integration. Frustrating at times yes,but all part of the process.

And also is it new information that she was joyful as she was going to get a present?
If that is new information, that is progress too.

And maybe reframing things might help:
She was getting joy where she could? Maybe getting joy was limited for her so she took it when it came, despite what came after, as she needed something to feel happy about?
Also, whether she took that present and whether she was looking forward to seeing abuser or not,the abuse would still have happened because he was an abuser and she was a child?
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
So you’re kind of stuck. Between past & present.
Stuck is the problem. Not seeing a way out of stuck is the other problem.

@Movingforward10
your last statement resonates with me. Oddly at the end of working with the memory I see the ending from a different perspective, his, I think, I feel this hunger as if nothing could stop me, even her pulling away. I’m not sure what that means, it took me almost a day to realize what was going on, before. I wasn’t sure what happened…maybe that’s what I go with next time, that’s a frightening thought.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
why the hell she finds joy in his visit I do not understand, especially since she knows how it ends.

i don't understand this one, either, but my work in foster car and animal rescue place it as a universal phenom. the more abused the being, the harder they will fight being removed to more humane conditions. my favorite theory is that 1) trust and 2) the eternal nature of hope.

i graduated from formal therapy before emdr was a thing, but in my own amnesia therapy, i shifted the focus from recalling every gory detail to channeling that eternal nature of hope into trust building through the inner child work. i still don't understand, but i have come to accept that to be human is to be a walking contradiction. even the most abused of children remains a bundle of love and hope underneath all that horror. it is what makes children special. don't hate on your inner child for being naïve.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Stuck is the problem. Not seeing a way out of stuck is the other problem.

@Movingforward10
your last statement resonates with me. Oddly at the end of working with the memory I see the ending from a different perspective, his, I think, I feel this hunger as if nothing could stop me, even her pulling away. I’m not sure what that means, it took me almost a day to realize what was going on, before. I wasn’t sure what happened…maybe that’s what I go with next time, that’s a frightening thought.
I don't know if this helps: but for the longest time I viewed me and my body parts (totally not integrated this way of thinking!) As dangerous and that I was a rapist as I made people rape me.
T gently and not so gently challenged me, over and over, as to why I held, so strongly, other people's feelings, thoughts and values over my own.
Sounds like here you or younger you or both of you are holding his feelings and thoughts over yours. His values, over yours. And it's trying to find that little small space for yours, and younger you'd voice and values to grow?

From what you write, even though it sounds very painful and frustrating for you, it seems to me you're making progress and things are shifting.
 

caroline_13

Confident
I’m just wondering how other people have worked with EMDR. Do you work a memory until it’s calmed or do you move around and sometimes come back?

The memory I’m working with at the moment seems like it’s going nowhere except frustrating me. We’ve spent two sessions on it but I’m stuck with mini-me’s joy at seeing the abuser and I don’t seem to be able to get around it to do any real work with it.

I told T I feel like shaking child self because why the hell she finds joy in his visit I do not understand, especially since she knows how it ends. He advised I shake her, yeah she just fast forwarded the memory to when she isn’t happy and said fine here ya go. T asked me to ask her what she expected would happen, she thought he brought her something but hadn’t thought past that. I want to say, well you got your present live with your choices. I know that won’t help and I can feel her terror as much as her joy so while I’m angry, I’m not angry enough to do that.

Anyway I don’t want to revisit the memory because if I’m not getting anywhere what’s the point? I don’t actually think being angry at myself, more than normal is all that helpful. So I’m wondering how others handle when they aren’t getting anywhere? I’m inclined to try a different memory but honestly I’m not sure I have one that’s any easier.
Can you work on reconstructing a new reality around an old memory, or simple constructing a happy place so you don't have to revisit the painful memories? I would at the very least follow your instinct and move on to something else.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Anyway I don’t want to revisit the memory because if I’m not getting anywhere what’s the point?
You are getting somewhere. You just don't realize it yet.

For some stuff - the dark and tangled that goes with it needs to be dealt with too. That and it's not like you do EMDR and all's well.....it still takes time for the hurt to go away.

Some memories take a long time to not hurt.
 

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
I have had to shelf a number of memories and come back and do EMDR later when my brain is more ready. It I would say it’s been very helpful. It took me 6 months to process one memory with many breaks and re-visits. But it finally processed.

It is also helpful to consider targeting in EMDR blocking beliefs - is there something your brain is holding onto/struggling to let go of that is blocking the memory from processing?

Often times these blocks are unconscious attempts that your brain makes as a way of protecting yourself from something. Something maybe to discuss with T.

T wants to shelf it for a week, feels like a failure, odd since that’s precisely what I’m questioning here.

Not a failure, just a process 💜
 
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