A little over three years ago was my first discovery day of my Husband’s infidelity. As most people do, I had to seek professional help. It took me six months to seek it, but I will never regret reaching out for professional help. If you are in a similar situation do not wait that long. Seek help immediately. I was lucky enough to find a great therapist who was a professional in EMDR in addition sent me home with a lot of tools that I could do on my own. I would use these tools everyday throughout my recovery and continue to do so. A couple months ago I went through a second discovery day where I found out my husband had been cheating ever since the first discovery day only on a larger scale. Link here for the more of the story. The tools I learned, combined with EMDR have gotten me through the toughest times. This time I am feeling things on a larger scale (lots more triggers) but I am processing them quicker than I did last time, making each anxiety attack a little shorter than the ones I experienced before. My hope is to be functional in a shorter amount of time then the 3 years it took before.
What I gathered most from my treatment is how the brain likes to file things away. In the case of trauma, it is necessary to do something about our thoughts and triggers. If you can watch your thoughts go by instead of feeling them it causes a lot fewer physical symptoms. When you do EMDR you are training your brain to feel and process triggers and thoughts in an efficient way. Yes, it can be exhausting, you can drain yourself for days after just one 10 min session. I always had to keep a really clean diet and drink lots of water. Some weeks I would have to skip the EMDR. The week I skipped the EMDR my therapist would give me other tools similar to EMDR where I learned to watch and process my thoughts correctly as to not harm me. It takes lots of practice to retrain your brain. It is a whole new world when you can take your triggers and watch them (at a quick rate) instead of feeling them. EMDR and the tools my therapist provided were not a cure for all but did allow me a good solid foundation to grow on. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of what I learned to do from home. I have had a lot of requests about what you can do if you are unable to find an EMDR performing therapist. What I will be providing is no way a professional opinion. All of what I will be sharing is from personal experience of what worked for me. I would recommend you reach out for professional help instead of trying to overcome betrayal trauma by yourself, but I hope you do get some relief from the information I will be providing in the coming weeks.
Please see the links at the bottom of this article for more information on EMDR.
When doing any of these tools it is very important that your body and brain go back and forth, left to right and right to left as fast as possible getting the speed of the back and forth motion to match the pace triggers and memories that are going through your head. When I first started EMDR my therapist used the eye movement method but unfortunately it created blood blisters on my eyeballs. Instead we opted to do the vibration from hand to hand. Cross body motion aka cross brain motion is the key. If at any time it becomes too draining, stop immediately and rest for days. Sleep, eat healthy and drink lots of water.
The first tool I am going to share is the one that is currently working best for me. Whenever I feel like I need to get some triggers or memories out and put them away in the right place I have been doing this. I find the biggest piece of paper possible, recently I have been using my touchscreen computer, you could also use a chalkboard or whiteboard. The bigger the surface the better but no need to go out of your way. I get all the coloring supplies I can find. Markers, crayons, paint anything that you would like. For the computer I use the simple paint program. Feel your memories and triggers and quickly assign them a color, shape, etc. Make it quick. Just a scribble is good. I like to use words or symbols too. When you have all those triggers and memories scribbled out, you are going to destroy them and make them disappear. This is where the cross-body motion comes in. If on paper, grab whatever color you would like and start drawing over all those scribbles in a cross-body motion. Go the speed of your thoughts. You can try to speed up and see if your thoughts speed up. Do not overwhelm yourself with the pace of thoughts. Just let your brain flow. The faster pace is something that you gradually grow overtime. You are changing the pace your brain processes those painful thoughts. On my computer paint program, I go over the images a few times changing the canvases color until I feel like I have exhausted all the processing I could do for the day. If you did this on paper like I do sometimes, tear it up, cross body again. You can burn it, do whatever your heart desires. You can be as creative as you want just make sure you are getting that cross-body motion, left and right brain activity going back and forth.
If you feel inclined to share your experience, please do. I love this community and the support we have for each other. We will never be the same, but we can be better.