Someone in my life has let me down significantly. I trusted this person implicitly. They were an authoritative, almost parent like figure in my life. He took advantage of me and made me think it was my fault. He used my mental illness as an excuse to gain pleasure from my vulnerability. I already have trust issues with men so this was devastating. It was like losing a best friend, a parent and even a significant other all at once. Over time, the relationship became strangely flirtatious, but I just brushed it off because I have a tendency to misinterpret feelings and intentions from men. Then he took it to the next level and breached a trust that should have never been breached. The worst part was the gaslighting. He had me going over and over again in my head my actions that led up to this. After it came to a head last weekend, I spent the following week in agony. I thought I loved him. I thought I was going to spiral out of control. Finally yesterday, with a clear head, I realized this was not my fault. None of this was my fault. I was used, I was manipulated and blamed for my vulnerability. I won't say who this person is or what their part in my life was. Just know he should've known better. I have been grieving. I tried to go to a concert last night, but had to leave halfway through after being triggered by someone who reminded me of him. So yeah, it's fresh and I'm a little raw, but I have cried, I have spoken to my support system and once I am done, however long that may take, I'll move on. However, I am allowing myself time to really process this and pull any learning lessons I can possibly salvage from this. My birthday is in a week and I think I'm going into it with a solid mindset. 38 is actually my lucky number so hopefully this is my best year yet!
How EMDR Changed My Life - by Haywood Robinson
Sweating, heavy breathing, uncontrollable weeping, darkness, yelling, sheer terror...it was like I was back there all over again, but reliving the scariest moment of my life was completely worth it in the end.
In this post I will share with you my experience with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and why I highly recommend it, especially for fellow survivors of the troubled teen industry. While it can be a terrifying process to go through, the results can be absolutely life changing.
Since you are reading this, I’m sure you are familiar with the troubled teen industry and the many dangers of their practices. However, you may not be familiar with the abusive seminars primarily practiced in the WWASP programs. These seminars lasted for several days. They restricted your food, allowed very little sleep and made the children participate in humiliating, degrading and psychologically torturous exercises in an effort to “break” the child so they could be built back up again.
In the first seminar that I completed, I was tormented into admitting a sexual assault I had experienced. Later on, I was made to bang a towel wrapped in duct tape on the floor, screaming at my abuser while fellow program boys yelled in my face, “You’re a dirty whore! You’re a little slut! You deserved this! You were asking for this!” At one point one of them pushed a pillow against me simulating the pressure of my abuser while I continuously yelled at them, “I’m worthy! I’m not dirty! I’m not a slut!”
This is the incident that haunted me for twenty years. This defined my worth, my self-respect and my lack of confidence that affected every aspect of my life. This is the moment I wanted to confront. So once my therapist and I had done some preliminary work discussing the details and how the process would work over several sessions, I was finally ready to face this event and rewrite my emotional history.
She began by extending a pointer that reminded me of a short antenna and began moving it back and forth horizontally within my line of sight. I was told to follow the pointer with my eyes. Once I got comfortable following the pointer, my therapist asked me to recall this traumatic event. She asked me to smell the auditorium, feel the towel in my hands, hear the boys taunting me, smell the sweat dripping off of them, fully embrace the sheer terror of being tortured and having no control over the situation whatsoever. I began retelling every moment as if I was back there in this exact moment giving my therapist a play by play.
As this is happening, for reasons believed to be connected to Rapid Eye Movement (REM), internal associations began connecting and I began processing the memory and the traumatic feelings as if I were right back in that auditorium. I began to shake and lose my breath. Just short of a panic attack, the therapist intervened.
With her soothing voice she assured me I was safe and temporarily brought me back into the moment while I caught my breath. Once my breathing became more steady she asked me to go back to that memory but as who I am today. To picture myself standing up in the middle of that auditorium and telling those boys that I was incapable of being broken. She asked me to imagine that this event motivated me to live my life with dignity and respect for myself. She asked me to imagine that I left that program stronger than when I entered. That this moment defined my strength and not my weakness. I did. I began feeling feelings of warmth and acceptance and worthiness. Most importantly, I felt strong, powerful and like a true survivor.
My therapist simply acted as a moderator of my own solitary healing process. Through my own emotional intelligence, I was guided into restoring a huge part of my mental health. This event that defined so many aspects of my life in such a negative way, had now empowered me and transformed my entire belief system regarding what this event used to mean to me. All of this occurred within a 90 minute session, which I find miraculous.
This wasn’t something that simply changed my feelings about this memory temporarily. Every time I think about this memory, I am reminded of my immense strength and resilience. While I still suffer from PTSD, the symptoms revolve around other aspects of my time in the troubled teen industry and the effects are not as strong as they once were.
While EMDR worked for me, it is not a guarantee it will work for everyone. Every brain is incredibly different, but it is definitely worth a shot. If you don’t have success with this treatment, please don’t give up. Our website has plenty of resources to seek out alternative treatments. Whatever you decide to do, please know that you are worth it.
I hate the word "trigger." That word has been so trivialized over the last several years that it's kind of a joke now. A joke to anyone who has never been triggered. I am struggling right now. I can't go into depth about a particular situation, but let's just say it has triggered major rejection issues for me. On top of that, my psychiatrist thinks I may be experiencing cyclical moods which means my medication isn't working the way it should anymore. Which means when I was doing so well earlier last month, I may have been hypo manic which would explain the massive depressive spell I've been under the last week.
"Oh but Haywood, I saw you at a concert on Saturday and you seemed great!" I was. Music is like medicine to me. It was the best time I've had in a really long time. Then when I woke up the next morning, I could hardly get out of bed. I took my friend to the airport which left me all by my lonesome. She and the rest of my friends were out of town for Memorial Day Weekend (even my damn mom lol) so I did nothing and felt like a super huge loser. I did nothing but slept and ate. This sequence of events triggered my abandonment issues. I asked my psychiatrist today why I can't just accept that this is the way I feel, but know it's not logical and just move on. She explained that when your brain has been programmed for 20+ years to react a certain way every time I feel feelings of rejection or abandonment, it's hard to just shut down the automatic responses. Pair this with my mood disorders and it's just an adorable little concoction of "what the fuck am I supposed to do with this?"
All this being said, I feel much better today. I talked to my doctor, I'm writing about it like I told her I would even though I admitted I was afraid people stopped caring about these posts. But I'm not doing this for those who don't want to see it. I'm doing it for those who need to see it, whether that be many or few. Let's share our struggles with the world and let them know they're not alone!!