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Irish Pauses, Healing, and Brain Spots...oh my


When I was in Ireland, I stayed in the small village of Laragh, which was a close walk to the Glendalough National Park. These mountains were where Saint Kevin started his monastery after living in a cave within the hills. He said it was there he saw God.


I agree with Kevin.


God, whoever or whatever they are, was certainly in those mountains. I felt them in the air. I felt them in the hills. I felt them. Which was what caused me to cancel my flight home, press a pause on life, and sit in those damn hills myself.


The key phrase there? I put a pause on my life.

And in that pause?

I lived. I flourished. I healed. I felt. I wept. I embodied sorrow. I embodied joy. I sat in nature. I slept. I connected to others. I became.


As I paused? I wrote about all of it. My journal traveled with me and I allowed my hands to flow within the moment.


Then the unpause. I've been back for over a month; back to my life. I manage a restaurant. I am a grad student in my last two weeks of the first semester. I have relationships. I have bills….so many bills. I am spinning within all of this and it keeps going faster and faster; I’m going to fall off soon. Like one of those spinning death traps that used to be in playgrounds when playgrounds were cool and no one cared about concussions. (Please note that for the mind’s sake we should care about concussions.)


Anyway, I’m falling behind, I’m falling off, I’m falling.



So I decided to write. Which is why these words are here. Writing is a pause, albeit occasionally a forced pause. For now, I am unable to jet off to Ireland to put another full pause on the incessant demands of this life (billlsssssssss).

But I am able to pause. Within the pause, I became. So pauses are necessary.


I asked myself the other day why I chose to write about this time. I’ve never considered myself a writer, I never studied it. Any English major can go through these words and make them 10 times better. Yet writing feels right. Writing is my forced pause. My chance to lay the world aside and truly process what is happening.


As to why I have apparently invited the world along with me via this blog?


I think this is important. Not in a, “look at me” version of importance. Rather, I believe that it is time that darkness came to light. When I first started sharing what was happening, streams of Me Too’s flooded in. Assault survivors are everywhere. Religious Trauma is real. Childhood Trauma is real. Trauma is real. It lives in us. It lives in our minds; it lives in our bodies. I believe this journey I am undertaking is the most important of my entire life; because my entire life hangs within the clutches of this journey. For 24 years I have lived in survival mode and absolute repression. But I am not the first, nor will I be the last. This is important.


So those are my whys. That is why I’ll show up at this keyboard.

My words are just words. I hold no answers. But if you want to be part of this journey, come along. I’ve got a vulnerable and honest heart ready to heal. To become. To overcome.


So Pause.


 

This week was a harder week. I go to a trauma therapist every week and this week we began Brainspotting Therapy (BSP).


BSP is a form of therapy that was founded off of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). EMDR therapy uses the bases of the REM cycle of sleep to facilitate healing. In REM sleep we are processing the events of our day/life as our eyes move from right to left. The left side of our brain is our memory storage. This is where processed memories live in our brain. Trauma however, lives in the right side of the brain. When we are outside of our “window of trauma” our mind is unable to process the events happening to us. So that “memory” gets stuck in the right side of the brain. EMDR is guided therapy that approaches the trauma with a licensed therapist who facilitates the eye movements from right to left and left to right. The patient recounts the trauma in a safe place and the memory is successfully stored in the left side of the brain, processed and put to rest. See this link below for more info; it’s pretty dang cool.



Brainspotting therapy was discovered during a session of EMDR therapy. Please see below for my homework from yesterday as I researched BSP. (Studying Psychology while it is happening to you is crazy y’all).


Corrigan et al. (2013) reviews the trauma therapy method of Brainspotting which he describes as a psychotherapy based upon observing the bodily activation while a patient describes a traumatic event. The body has a resonating spot in the visual field which allows traumatic processing to happen. Corrigan et al.(2013) hypothesized that focusing on the Brainspot would engage a pathway to the midbrain. They hold that the capacity for healing is occurring in the midbrain within the superior colliculi.


Easier human terms?

On Monday, my therapist held a stick with a ball on the end in front of my left vision. She then did a 5 minute sweep across my vision while I was in an “activated” bodily response from our talk of my trauma. Anne (my therapist) watched as my eyes and body reacted to each spot she held the wand within my vision. When we hit a spot on my right side of vision, my body started to convulse. We then stayed on that spot for 20 minutes. My body jerked this way and that. The flashbacks cycled repeatedly. I cried. I was both fully in control AND watching my body and mind process what had happened to them.


It was intense. I left therapy more exhausted than I usually am. Anne also warned me that a lot of the processing from this form of therapy comes out after a session. WHEW. Was she right! It’s only Friday and I am 2 flashbacks and a whole lot of thoughts deep already.


But this is GOOD. And that has been one of the hardest parts of this healing process; realizing that sometimes the painful things are actually the healing occurring. My flashbacks have become releases. My body twitches this way and that, and I sit calmly in whatever memory is brought up. I observe it.


BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY? I sit with the small 3 year old all of these horrors happened to and I feel it with her. Sometimes I say aloud, “It’s okay…I’m here now”. I sit in the terror. I sit in the sadness. I observe as my body thrashes, ridding itself of the action that was denied it so long ago. I hold young Kasey in my arms and together we ride out the horror.


And then it lifts. And we breathe deeply. And we know we are safe now. What was in the past is in the past, and soon it will never define us again.


These times are hard. These times are heavy. These times are confusing. These times are painful.


But I will show up to each day ready to meet it. I will hold the sadness. I will hold the horror. I will hold the terror. I will stare it in the face.

And soon?

I will release it. I will thank it for the woman it made me.

And I will walk on and walk with fire.


Unpause.




Corrigan, F., & Grand, D. (2013). Brainspotting: Recruiting the midbrain for accessing and healing sensorimotor memories of traumatic activation. Medical Hypotheses, 80(6),

759-766. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2013.03.005

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EMDR is difficult, exhausting work; I admire you for doing it. I’m glad the flashbacks are slowly becoming releases. Sending love, during both the pauses and unpauses.

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