How EMDR and God Helped Me Endure

My son Tyler was 32 when he passed away. His car slid off the road and rolled over. He was thrown from the car and the hit to his head killed him immediately. I don’t know how long he lay in the snowy ditch until someone (who?) came along and found him. I don’t know this but I have imagined it over and over. In fact, I imagined it until I thought what I imagined was real.

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Afterwards, I spent session after session with a Psychologist that specializes in PTSD and treats this malady with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). Week after week, I watched a light move right to left, left to right in front of my eyes and told the story over and over – the ditch, the car, the snow, the hit on the head- until I convinced myself that I had never seen this and really am not aware of what exactly happened.
PTSD can develop after a major traumatic event, either emotional or physical. About 10% of the US population has symptoms of PSTD. It is mostly a female event, in fact, my stepdaughter had it after finding her stepfather dead on his bed. She also went through EMDR therapy.

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She, like I, came to hate going through it- the scene in our minds, time after time- but it really helped. My therapist used a penlight in front of my eyes which caused my eyes to find a right/left eye movement. I have also heard that a therapist can use sound. My therapist explained that the movement repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain releasing emotional experiences that are “trapped” in the nervous system. Can you believe it? It’s so amazing to me how just retelling the story with this penlight helps the neurophysiological system to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself!

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Sometimes I still do think about how my son died- you can understand how that would be, but I feel like if I do some investigating and obtain the documents from the highway patrol and coroner and local police then I would worry over the story and ultimately have a whole new scenario in my head.

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It is enough; right now, I think it is enough, to know that my son died and lives in Heaven with Jesus and my Mom and Dad, as well as his father’s Mom and Dad and the two babies I miscarried. I am a believer. I also believe that our dogs are there too. Even our precious dachshund puppy who died too young.

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EMDR helped me to realize that my imagination had built that scene of his death. Afterward, plenty of DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) classes helped me to look at his death as a FACT. He is dead. And all the things I had meant to say to him are left unsaid. That is true. But it is my faith in God that has helped me to understand my feelings. It is DBT that has given me the coping skills to move forward.

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Moving forward is HUGE for me because I just couldn’t get past this strategy. One of the things I hope to do in this blog is to help others who can’t move forward- and to show how God plays the BIGGEST part in getting us to move forward.

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If you are like me you know the verse that says that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear. I believed that whole-heartedly until Tyler died. How could I possible bear this? This verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13. The rest of the verse says that God will provide a way for us to handle it. I believe my way to handle it is with my doctors and therapists and through DBT counseling.

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“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

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No. God did not make it all go away. And he used men and women of great knowledge to show me how to handle it. He showed me that I can endure.  I hope that through these posts you can apply this therapy to your life to help you endure.

I am not sure what your burden is today but I am living proof that our God is faithful. That He will indeed show us a way to handle it- If we simply believe that He will.

 

Why I Write this Blogged Book

I have told you this, so you will have peace of heart and mind.  Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up for I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT

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It started with plexiglass. A sheet for a hunting stand- I guess they call it a deer stand. I imagine it was cold- it was, after all, November in Minnesota. What if he hadn’t stopped for the Plexiglass?

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I don’t hunt. I hate hunting. Lots of people do it though, especially in Minnesota- and Ohio I guess. Whenever he brought up hunting when we talked on the phone I shut him down. Unfortunately, that would be just one of the topics for which I shut him down. How could I be so judgmental?

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“I don’t want to talk about this!” I would complain. “It’s horrible killing animals!” and he would laugh and try to make a case for it. My son Tyler and I were so different from one another!

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But now, I would give anything to be talking to him about killing deer right now. I would let him go on and on about all the gruesome details. I’d listen thoughtfully as he described the deer stand and ask questions about where it was and such.

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Then when he got to the part about needing Plexiglass? That’s where I would shut it down. I would help him find another solution- (I don’t even know what the Plexiglass was for- wind blocking I suppose.) But it wouldn’t matter, whatever it was used for I would find another solution- something -anything to keep him out of Home Depot and the ditch that claimed his life.

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When people die we try to think about how we could have done things differently or said things or not said things. Oh, my word! Would I have done things differently! The road to death from birth? That’s not one a son should be taking, not before his mother takes it anyway.

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And people? Well, they were appalled when they learned that I lost my son. They want to suppress the urge to turn around and never talk to me about it again. It’s too close, too uncomfortable. If they admit it happened to someone they know, then they would have to admit that it might happen to them. Plus, honestly, there is no segue to a new topic when you say, “My son died.”

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Grief is an odd thing. It changes you. Suddenly you’re in a place that you don’t know how to navigate, the feelings are too strong, too volatile. Subtle or not-so-subtle changes take place within the fabric of your being, your make-up- maybe even your abilities. That’s what happened to me.

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It was the beginning of my downfall, Tyler’s death. When Tyler died, it was as if I entered a new classification of human. People I knew for years began to hold me at arm’s length. I have spent more time in doctors’ offices and hospitals in the past 3 years than all of my previous 58 years combined. And I have learned so much about myself, grief, death, Heaven and how to cope.

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God’s Word tells us that when we go through something terrible or challenging, that we have a responsibility to help others that might be going through the same thing.

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“Do you hear the secret counsel of God, and limit wisdom to yourself?” – Job 15:8

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Some days now I can make it. I can get through the day and be happy and accomplished. It’s just that now, my accomplishments are fewer, and smaller than the accomplishments of my previous self. Most of all, I am leaning on the Lord, who tells me that if I call on Him I will be saved. He will only give me as much as I can bear. He will be with me always, even when my foot strikes a rock in my path, he will carry me, and I only need to ask, “Jesus help me!” and He will be there.

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The secret wisdom that God has laid on my heart is that my treatment team is wise, and as I learn the intricacies of Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) I find so many similarities to the Word of God. Slowly, I began to see how my morning Bible devotions were similar to the skills I was learning in DBT, so I started to do my DBT homework with a Bible alongside my workbook. When I saw so many Christian principles play out in my homework, I felt closer to God and closer to healing. I am writing this blogged book because as I learn to deal with my hardships, I could maybe help someone else in a similar position.  If it helps you, contact me and let me know.

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“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Why I Write this Blogged Book

Thanks for joining me!

“I have told you this, so you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up for I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NLT

.
It started with plexiglass. A sheet for a hunting stand- I guess they call it a deer stand. I imagine it was cold- it was, after all, November in Minnesota. What if he hadn’t stopped for the Plexiglass?

.
I don’t hunt. I hate hunting. Lots of people do it though, especially in Minnesota- and Ohio I guess. Whenever he brought up hunting when we talked on the phone I shut him down. Unfortunately, that would be just one of the topics for which I shut him down. How could I be so judgmental?

.
“I don’t want to talk about this!” I would complain. “It’s horrible killing animals!” and he would laugh and try to make a case for it. My son Tyler and I were so different from one another! But now, I would give anything to be talking to him about killing deer right now. I would let him go on and on about all the gruesome details. I’d listen thoughtfully as he described the deer stand and ask questions about where it was and such.

.
Then when he got to the part about needing Plexiglass? That’s where I would shut it down. I would help him find another solution- (I don’t even know what the Plexiglass was for- wind blocking I suppose.) But it wouldn’t matter, whatever it was used for I would find another solution- something -anything to keep him out of Home Depot and the ditch that claimed his life.

.
When people die we try to think about how we could have done things differently or said things or not said things. Oh, my word! Would I have done things differently! The road to death from birth? That’s not one a son should be taking, not before his mother takes it anyway.

.
And people? Well, they were appalled when they learned that I lost my son. They want to suppress the urge to turn around and never talk to me about it again. It’s too close, too uncomfortable. If they admit it happened to someone they know, then they would have to admit that it might happen to them. Plus, honestly, there is no segue to a new topic when you say, “My son died.”

.
Grief is an odd thing. It changes you. Suddenly you’re in a place that you don’t know how to navigate, the feelings are too strong, too volatile. Subtle or not-so-subtle changes take place within the fabric of your being, your make-up- maybe even your abilities. That’s what happened to me.

.
It was the beginning of my downfall, Tyler’s death. When Tyler died, it was as if I entered a new classification of human. People I knew for years began to hold me at arm’s length. I have spent more time in doctors’ offices and hospitals in the past 3 years than all of my previous 58 years combined. And I have learned so much about myself, grief, death, Heaven and how to cope.

.
God’s Word tells us that when we go through something terrible or challenging, that we have a responsibility to help others that might be going through the same thing.
“Do you hear the secret counsel of God, and limit wisdom to yourself?”
– Job 15:8

Some days now I can make it. I can get through the day and be happy and accomplished. It’s just that now, my accomplishments are fewer, and smaller than the accomplishments of my previous self. Most of all, I am leaning on the Lord, who tells me that if I call on Him I will be saved. He will only give me as much as I can bear. He will be with me always, even when my foot strikes a rock in my path, he will carry me, and I only need to ask, “Jesus help me!” and He will be there.

.
The secret wisdom that God has laid on my heart is that my treatment team is wise, and as I learn the intricacies of Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) I find so many similarities to the Word of God. Slowly, I began to see how my morning Bible devotions were similar to the skills I was learning in DBT, so I started to do my DBT homework with a Bible alongside my workbook. When I saw so many Christian principles play out in my homework, I felt closer to God and closer to healing. I am writing this blogged book because as I learn to deal with my hardships, I could maybe help someone else in a similar position.

.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I need to make it clear that I am not a therapist and the information I am sharing is simply what I have learned from my teachers and from God. He has challenged me with writing about it and I have accepted the challenge.

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This book does not represent DBT in its entirety and it is not to replace the DBT Workbook which can be purchased on line by searching DBT Skills Training and Worksheets, Second Edition by Marsha M. Linehan. DBT workbooks and companion materials are available by all kinds of authors just by searching DBT Workbook on bookstore sites or Amazon, but Marsha M. Linehan is the creator of DBT, which she created for herself when other behavior therapies were not working for her. She created it for people who have borderline personality disorder, which means those of us who have this common disorder might be trapped in a mind that affects our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others.

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But you don’t have to have this diagnosis to find help through this therapy. It is a therapy that helps in unstable relationships, an unhealthy self-image and self-harm, mood swings, anger and participating in risky behaviors.

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In my case, the loss of my son opened a wound that began to erode the world as I knew it. I pictured it as a cavern huge and open everyday more of its rocky crags falling into it. Relationship issues popped up because of my deep depression and self-loathing. My thoughts were uncontrollable starting with what a bad mother I was to my son and moving through every facet of my life until I didn’t trust myself anymore and I just wanted relief.

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But the Good News is that God has turned my life into something new based on a strong dependence on Him. And I learned this through DBT and daily devotions. I may feel like a lump of coal some days, but I know that He is polishing me and polishing me with His divine hand.

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“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”
-Romans 5:3-5

Bottom line, DBT tells us that we have a choice in dealing with our problems:
1. Solve the Problem
2. Feel Better about the Problem
3. Tolerate it
4. Stay Miserable

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I know there are things I cannot solve that I am learning to tolerate. My relationship with my son is in the past and I cannot change that, so I have to accept it as it is and tolerate the fact that sometimes I will feel bad about it. What I know is that I no longer choose to stay miserable and that has transformed my life. By living in a constant state of gratitude, which I like to say is Attitude + Grace, I can “be a new person with a fresh newness” in all I do and think. – Romans 12:2 NLT

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I cannot change the fact that my son Tyler died that November day in 2014, but unbearable sadness and “what if’s” got in the way of my accepting it. Not only does God walk with me along this path to acceptance but Psalm 139:4 tells me that He follows me as well, ready to catch me when I faint.

 

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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