It's a wonder I can function right now.
I chose Therapist #3 based on a recommendation from my best therapist ever, who happily responds to my emails and updates even 3 years after I stopped seeing her. (for reference, she moved to another country). Therapist #3 is also awesome. I definitely made the right move, and after several sessions, I dived into EMDR. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.
It SUCKS. I've done 2 sessions and it's been really rough both times. She uses tactile tappers that I hold in my hands while processing memories and feelings. I process for about 2 minutes and then tell her what is coming up. I chose a negative memory and feeling to start from in a previous appointment and went through an exercise to choose the "vessel" to put all the bad feelings into and a safe place to go through a visualization to close out the session. In the first session, memories came up that I often cycle through, it wasn't like anything really deep in my subconscious suddenly popped up. It was hard to process and I completely broke down crying. After the session, I was drained and even the next day, didn't feel like I had a lot of energy. The second session was even worse. This time, I seemed to be fighting to even begin to move into memories and the first 2 rounds of the processing there wasn't much coming up. When I finally started talking about what was going on, I felt robotic and shut down. Moving into the subsequent rounds of processing, all these feelings came flooding through me and I started to break down. By the end, I was so raw and shaken that she commented she was a little bit worried about me. I struggled to really close out the session and walked out of the office feeling dazed. The next day I had scheduled a stretch session. That turned out to be for the best, because Stretch Guy opened up to me more and it felt so comforting to hear someone else articulate what I've been feeling and thinking. I still felt a little raw by what came up, and really needed support from someone who can relate.
The insight from the first couple of EMDR sessions has brought to light that while I can logically and rationally understand that my childhood was less than ideal and certain actions by my parents kept me from really experiencing childhood, I have not been feeling the feelings. EMDR forced me to feel pain and sadness and shame and grief over how I protected myself. How I put on the blinders, tried to be the perfect daughter and student. I never rebelled. I never even thought to transfer universities to find out what it was I like or want to do. I just kept my head down and barreled through years of my life checking off the boxes and wondering why I wasn't happy like I perceive everyone else to be.
I'm grieving the loss of my childhood and the exploration of who I wanted to become. I never had either one of those.