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Honey, I ate my doctor!

October 27, 2008

I ripped the flesh off his arms. My tiger jaws crushed his head and his brains squirted out like a popped zit. I felt good. Then, something shifted.

It was my second trauma therapy session with the new therapist. First, we went through all kinds of “resourcing”, where you think of the support you had in your life, or something else positive in your life. For me, one of the big supports in my life was my little ol’ Italian grandmother, who my friend Eurydice at Geeks in Rome duly nicknamed “Grandma Cookie”. As the name infers, she was a wonderful cook, and she was always making Eurydice and I cookies as kids. At the time of my session, I wasn’t sure this was going to be a good resource for me, because all I could think of was how depressed I was that she was no longer around.

At some point in the session, we focused in on the feeling in my body. I was angry, but frustrated that I could do nothing about what happened. I was told to focus in on the energy of that, and guided to tune into my animal instincts. I wanted to rip my doctor to shreds. My therapist handed me a scarf and told me to go for it, to bite into the scarf like I would my doctor. If I hadn’t already read some of Peter Levine’s book “Waking the Tiger”, a pivotal book on trauma therapy, I would have thought she was nuttier than a fruitcake. Levine writes about how animals are not traumatized like human beings are. They learn to shake it off. Humans have the same animal brain, as well as our “human” part, the neo-cortex. Levine says that we get traumatized when the energy that a traumatic event evokes gets stuck. This might be an event where one could not escape harm, like surgery or a car accident. Levine’s therapy, called Somatic Experiencing, works, I think, by touching into those same animal instinctual responses. When I read about it in his book, I wondered, “how is this going to work for me and my particular situation?” I couldn’t really see the connection.

Now I know, it is an experiential thing. I declined the scarf, but took my jacket to bite into, figuring it would be more polite to slobber on my own clothes than someone else’s. My therapist told me to get into the biting. I bit and shook my jacket, envisioning my RE’s lifeless body being crushed in my powerful jaws. I did not feel like the powerless patient with no control any longer. I felt powerful and strong. I went home feeling quite good.

This was in contrast to the previous week’s Traumarama, in which I spent about 24 hours being pretty wound up after my first trauma therapy session. My therapist told me that a day to a day and a half of being tweaked out after a session is good and showing I am integrating the material we are working on. Huh? Ok, I was a little more than tweaked out, I was borderline suicidal, and even took a Well.butrin to get through the day, though I’ve been completely free of it since early September. I didn’t get it, but if my therapist was saying it was progress, then I’ll take it!

I can tell things are shifting. I feel like working out again. I actually feel ready to try again, though I am daunted by the long list of things that need to be taken care of first, one of which is getting Magic on board again. He does not want to see me all freaked out again, for good reason!

Tomorrow is my six month anniversary of the loss. I had a feeling it would take at least six months to heal from this. I wonder how I will feel about this unhappy milestone? Right now, I feel there is no need to wallow in what happened, but to focus on the present healing and work towards the future. One change I have noted is a genuine feeling of my internal support, something that I was so lacking back when I was depressed and anxious. I hope this feeling will continue to grow and carry me through the difficult times I’m sure that have yet to come.

And now I can think of Grandma Cookie with a smile and all that she did for me when I was a kid.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lost in Space permalink
    October 27, 2008 8:17 pm

    Wow, Phoebe. This is powerful in so many ways. I tried something similar many years ago in ED therapy and failed miserably at it. I can feel a sense of calmness in your words. You continue to inspire me to want to heal. I’m wishing only good things for you as you continue down this path. Much love.

  2. geeksinrome permalink
    October 28, 2008 5:09 am

    Very cool! I love that idea of letting the inner animal out and doing what instinctually we would have wanted to do. I think it’s no coincidence the more “civilized” cultures experience more depression and anxiety. We need savage, communal ceremonies where we dress up in pelts or feathers and “bite” the crap out of our enemies or stomp the hell out of evil spirits messin’ with our lives. I miss Grandma Cookie! (and Hilde… ole crusty!) She was a good woman. I’m so glad she was such an important part of your life 🙂

  3. November 2, 2008 9:23 pm

    Hey there – I’m not sure how I haven’t come across your blog before.I experienced PTSD after my daughter died. This was a site I found to be helpful….so for what it’s worth….

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