Cracking Writer’s Block with EMDR

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Thanks to Val Erde for letting me use this image. Click HERE if you’d like to use her images, too!

As a child, I was supposed to keep my room neat. My bed needed to be made the moment I awoke each morning; hospital corners were not optional. My clothes were to be folded and put away while they were still warm. Fortunately for me, I excelled at neat.

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 2.16.10 AMI remember watching the 1976 Summer Olympics with my father. Sitting next to him on the couch, I wore a yellow leotard. He pointed to Nadia Comenici as she waved to the crowd after earning her first perfect 10.0 on the uneven bars.

“You see!” my father said. “Being perfect is possible.”

In my house, failing was not an option. No one told me it was okay to mess up. No one ever said people learn by failing, by falling, and getting up again, that it takes a different kind of strength to persevere despite sucking.

I learned that sucking brought misery. When I sucked at trigonometry, it meant I had to complete endless math problems written on the back of placemats at restaurants until the meal arrived. Feeling my father’s frustration comingled with his disappointment, by the time our food came, I often felt like vomiting.

“It’s not that hard,” my father would say.

But it was that hard, and I didn’t get it. And I hated feeling dumb.

I learned if I sucked at something, I needed to avoid that thing at all costs.

So I stuck to my strengths and only tried the things at which I could excel.

You want someone to sing or memorize lines? Awesome. Need a crafty-critter? No problemo. I can make pinch pots and macramé, turn beads and fishing lures into jewelry. Watch me sketch and draw and paint fearlessly in watercolors and acrylics and oils. Need a dancer?Check out my smooth moves. Seriously, I can hustle and shimmy and shake my groove thing. I can twirl and do pirouettes. I can do back-flips off the diving board and handsprings on the lawn.

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There were 3 of these! Three!

In 2nd grade, Mrs. Church told I could write. She loved a story I’d written about a red-breasted robin, and she made me to read it to the “big kids,” in a different wing of the school. Later, Mrs. Oliver told me a poem I’d written moved her. It moved her. In middle school, Mr. Baron drew three big stars in my notebook next to the words “squishy red beanbag chair on the lime carpet.” Three stars.

I dreamed of being a writer.

In college, I received attention and praise, earned awards and validation from my professors.

I felt like a magician, able to amaze people with my words.

In December 2012, I found a writing partner. We worked together for six months, sending each other pages of our fiction manuscripts to read. We provided feedback for each other. I poured myself into her project, believing that – eventually, she would give mine the same kind of love.

Last May, I took a hiatus to prepare for my son’s bar mitzvah. My writing partner knew this when we started working together. I reassured her I would be back in the saddle after the festivities ended.

“I’ll be here, pardner,” she promised.

She promised.

When I called to let her know I was ready to start collaborating again, I caught the hesitation in her voice.

“I had so much momentum, I couldn’t stop! You know how that is, right?” she said. And then she told me she’d found a new person to work with.

My legs shook when I hung up the phone.

Besides feeling abandoned and betrayed, I felt like her actions said something bigger about my abilities as a writer.

The cosmos provided me with the words. I read between the lines.

My writing must have really sucked.

Because if it didn’t suck, she wouldn’t have been able to stop working with me. She wouldn’t have been able to put down my manuscript.

To make matters worse, my computer crashed shortly after my former partner dumped me.

I didn’t have anything backed-up, and I lost everything: twenty years of teaching curriculum, twenty years of photographs, decades of poetry and short stories.

A non-fiction manuscript. And a fiction manuscript.

Gone.

For most of my life, people have made me believe I could do magical things with words. But this past year, I’ve felt like someone took my black hat and my cape and my wand. Like someone stole my white rabbit.

Suddenly, what had always come naturally for me has became dreadfully difficult.

Recently I wrote about how I’ve been paralyzed with trying to be perfect with my writing. How some days, I worked 4 or 5 hours on a piece, writing 5,000 – 7,000 words.

And then I deleted everything.

Because every word sucked.

That’s how I ended up doing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) with Vickijo Campanaro.

I’m not going to try to explain the theory behind this kind of therapy. Let’s just say EMDR is often used with individuals who have suffered major traumas, sexual or physical assault, combat experiences, accidents, the sudden death of a loved one: any kind of post-traumatic stress, really. But EMDR therapy has also been used to help athletes, performers and executives to achieve a state of “peak performance.”

If facilitated properly, EMDR helps people replace negative or stressful thoughts with positive ones.

Or something like that.

During my first session, VJ took a detailed history where we focused on what I perceived to be the major traumatic events in my life. I thought about the things I’ve been through in my 45 years on this planet and realized I had a lot from which to choose. She demonstrated a breathing exercise, which was familiar to me from my experience with yoga.

Then she had me hold these little buzzing paddles, which felt like cell phones set to vibrate.

Apparently, some therapists have clients track flashing lights but, over the course of her career, VJ said she’d found pairing the gentle, rhythmic buzzing from the paddles with conversation just as effective.

On my third session, Vickijo instructed me to put the buzzing paddles under my thighs, and she asked me to tell her about what I perceived to be my strengths as a writer.

I couldn’t think of one.

Not. One.

Unfazed, VJ asked me to close my eyes and describe a writer I admire. I thought about one particular blogger. “She can write about anything. She has amazing range: sometimes she’s funny; other times, she’s serious. She uses fresh images. She knows how to tell a story so it is unique and yet universally true. She responds to everyone. She’s generous, and her audience loves her.”

“You can open your eyes,” VJ said, so I did. “Do you think you possess any of the same qualities as this writer?”

I wasn’t sure.

Earlier in the session, I had talked about how much I sucked.

VJ asked me to think of an affirming sentence to replace my negative thoughts.

It was hard.

The voices were loud in my head.

“Let’s start with: ‘I suck,’” Vickijo suggested. “Can you turn that on its head?”

I closed my eyes and feeling the slow, rhythmic vibration of the paddles under my thighs, I saw myself sitting at a table, eating words. I literally ate the word ‘apricot’: chewed on it and swallowed, while my hand moved, scribbling letters inside a black and white composition notebook. I saw all the words I’d ever written in my life penned on a cozy fleece blanket and draped over my shoulders. I read the words I’d written on the lined paper.

“I’m a writer,” I said.

Except when I said it, there were eleventy-seven question marks at the end of the sentence.

“You’re a writer,” VJ said it as a statement. “And what does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “For me, writing is like eating or pooping. I can’t not do it. Whether or not I ever publish a book, I’m always going to write. It’s what I do.”

Vickijo laughed. “And that’s because?”

“I’m a writer.”

When I said it the second time, I believed it a little bit more. Weird, right? I have a hard time explaining how or why it’s working, but it is. EMDR combined with 5 minutes of daily meditation has been doing wonders for me.

And my writing.

For CREDIT click HERE. It was VERY hard to determine the origin of this image, but i have done my very best.

I’m feeling less compelled to be perfect.

In fact, perfect hasn’t even been on my radar.

I know it sounds whack-a-doodle, but the science supports this stuff. It’s incredible to me to think we have the ability to reprogram the way our brains have been hardwired to think. If you have suffered a trauma — or any kind of anxiety — EMDR can really help.

A few months ago, I would have felt like a bad person because my bed isn’t made, I’ve got a sink filled with dishes, and very little food in the refrigerator.

But today? I’m soooo not.

Progress.

•••

Here’s a video I found on YouTube that does a good job explaining EMDR, if you are interested.

Have you ever heard of EMDR? If you’ve tried it, did it work for you? What do you think about the idea of reprogramming your brain to think happier thoughts?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Check out my friend, author Kasey Mathews’ post on her experience with EMDR. We’ve known each other for decades, she guest posted on my blog HERE, and can you believe we’re both having positive experiences with EMDR?

77 responses to “Cracking Writer’s Block with EMDR

  1. I did do EMDR and it was crazy powerful. It peeled back layers of protection I hadn’t even realized were there – and that was pretty scary at times. I think it’s amazing that you valued yourself as a writer enough to see a therapist about it. I probably would have just chided myself for trying and moved on to something else.

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  2. This post is so good. I’ve heard great things about emdr. So happy to learn more. And I’d be your writing partner. Not kidding.

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    • Christie: Those last words? You have no idea. I think you are one of the most talented writers out there. I don’t know HOW you do it so consistently! Each essay is a hit! And thank you! For now, I’m leaving the book alone and working on rebuilding my confidence. But having you say those words? Means the world!

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  3. I’ve seen EMDR is action and it’s … not like anything I’d ever seen. So glad to see it can help writing too!

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  4. How I wish I could give that face of yours a kiss and a hug and tell you that you ARE perfect. Just not the making-your-bed-everyday-defines-you-as-perfect kind. You ARE perfect because you are my friend Renee, with the sparkly glasses and silly hats who is a talented writer. You are exactly what G-d meant for you to be. As for partners, throw my name on the list of volunteers you’ll now have to choose from.

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    • Oh Leeeeeeesha! You always write the nicest things. And I do believe that G-d makes us the way we’re supposed to be. I’ve changed over the last few years, mellowed a bit. (I know, right? That’s me more chillax than before.) I’m learning to just roll with things more, to stop fighting everything. It’s easier. But yes, I’d take a hug from you any time!

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  5. I’ve never heard of this but am SO glad you have. girl, that blogger you described that inspires you? sounds a lot like you to me.

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    • Christina: I’ve only just met you thru Yeah Write, but wow! Is your stuff faboosh! I’m getting used to the idea that not everything I write (or do) has to be perfect. I’m learning to suck at 45. Imagine that? Thank you for your support!

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  6. I was an assistant to a counselor years ago and, when the patients were comfortable with it (which was most sessions) I sat in and helped record results.

    What you described reminds me of what she did. She’d have people say something that was a pervasive damaging thought, then they’d repeat the thought but with a negation (e.g. “I suck” would become “I don’t suck”). THEN, the repeated the same negated thought, but in a positive way (e.g. “I am talented”, “I am valued”)

    When doing the repetitions, they would follow her finger with her eyes, repeating the positive affirmation as they looked in each direction. I think each direction was supposed to stimulate a different part of the brain? (Something like: Up right is Visual Construct, up left is Visual History, horizontal right is Auditory Construct, horizontal left is Auditory History, down right is Feelings, down left is Self-talk.)

    I can’t tell you how many people I’d see who would seem completely fine, until they had to repeat the positive affirmation – some would break down in tears, barely able to get through it. It’s amazing to me how powerful it can be to talk to yourself positively.

    I am SO glad you are making progress and hope to see more of your wonderful, amazing words floating about soon. And I agree with Christina – your description sounds a lot like how I would describe you.🙂

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    • Amber! You KNOW I’ve been through the ringer this last year, but it’s nice to know that you’ve stuck with me: good posts and bad.

      And I’m not surprised to know you have some experience with EMDR. You have so many cool experiences! You would be a great therapist, methinks!🙂

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  7. Excellent post – I am going to look into this–and I want to hit that person who left you behind–what a total jerk!

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  8. Methinks you and I are very similar, at least in terms of being anxious about stuff, worrying too much, wondering if we are “good enough”, at this or that. Not so much in terms of the whole bed making thing or dancing!🙂 I have always thought it interesting that we, as kids, grew up being told we were good writers or athletes or singers or whatever… “you can do ANYTHING you want as an adult”…..But then as adults we rarely get those same kinds of affirmations and when we do we tend to not believe it like we did when we were kids. Because suddenly there are often unreachable goals that we are striving for and we tend to compare ourselves to some stereotypical level of success. So we go from being “great writers” to “unpublished writers”. Am I making any sense? Sounds like maybe you have found a way to address this.

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    • That’s it precisely! I grew up with a fair amount of external validation and now that it’s just me, myself and I? Well, it’s a little quiet in my head. I think most of us writers suffer from this a little bit. We want to connect with others through our words, but there is always a little distance between us and the “perfect words.” Steve, for what it’s worth? I think you’re fantastic. Why do you think I’ve been following you all this time, Cowboy?

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  9. I talk to myself…out loud. It bothers other people all to crap but it works for me. Mind over matter, baby.

    You found something that works for you. With the bonus of less housework. How cool is that?!

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    • BD: You are so strong and decisive. Even the other day? When you wrote about your own feelings as a writer? You were unapologetic and vowed to write better. Well, crap. If that was you being mediocre, what’s a girl like me to do? Sheesh! Thanks for the encouraging words and for keeping the standards high for yourself.

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  10. I have heard of EMDR. There was some bad stuff many years ago, with lingering aftereffects for which I thought EMDR would help, but I couldn’t find a practitioner. I ended up doing more typical therapy to work through it. And glory be, it eased my own perfectionism.

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    • Hi Jim! I’m glad you were able to work through your bad stuff. EMDR is used more widely these days; I’ll bet you could find a practitioner now, but yah, it sounded pretty crazy back in the day. Now the science supports the tenets behind the practice. Whatever road we travel, there are bound to be bumps along the way; it’s good to know there are people to lend a hand when we’re at a crossroad.

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  11. I dedicated a post to you today called “Who I Want to Be” —

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  12. This is amazing, Renee! Never heard of this treatment but so glad it’s working for you. Wish I’d heard of it years ago. I’d have gone for it. I hope, through this therapy, you’ll learn that there is no perfection, only perception. If you perceive yourself as a success or ‘good enough’ then you will be. The opposite is true, too. See yourself as a failure and you’ll have a devil of a time moving beyond that. I’ve dealt with this my whole life, too. I feel ya, sweets. You are making progress in your perceptions now so do your happy dance! You’re on your way to more greatness than you ever thought truly possible!

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    • Hi Marcia. At 45, I’m finally figuring it out. And not for nothin’, it’s people like you who continue to inspire me to work on myself –to face my demons and kill them off– because life is too damn short. Smooches to you!

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  13. You’re not just a writer but a VERY FINE WRITER as proven by phrases like, ” I literally ate the word ‘apricot’: chewed on it and swallowed.” Artistry is hard. It’s so easy to feel like a failure. Try doing it for a living for 7 years and finally realizing that you cannot feed your young family and so it becomes a “weekend thing.” Uggh. But you’ve got the moxie, so just keep sitting your ass in a chair, putting your head down and cranking out the goods. Your day in the sun is today.

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    • Aw Stu! *blush* Thanks for your kind words. You hit the nail on the head here: the struggling to be a creative person, only to realize — gah! — there are so many other talented souls out there. And while that’s inspiring, it’s also paralyzing. I’m working on believing in myself, for real. We’re under that same blue sky today.

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  14. Oh, Renee. This post was beautiful. It had a bit of everything in it. You expressed your “demons” so well. It was great reading along and seeing the transformation you made from being totally unsure and doubtful to believing in yourself even with the “imperfections”. So glad this is working for you. You are still my big time mentor! xo🙂

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    • Maria! YOU are one of those writers who bubbles with so much joy! You inspire me and yet you intimidate me, too! {Do that surprise you? It’s true!} I love your writing voice, and I’m sure it would be divine to meet you in person. You are such a loving soul. Look what you did for Susie? That heart comes through in each essay you write. Please know that even if I don’t always comment, I’m reading.

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  15. I feel like you wrote this one just for me! I, too, grew up in a household where failure wasn’t an option–so you learn to limit yourself to only what you’re immediately good at–not so good, eh? In fact, I’m in the middle of a blog post on this. Did you ever read Mindset by Carol Dweck? What we went through is called the closed mindset. Book opened my eyes to another way of thinking. And I’ve just started EMDR with someone–funny. Parallel lives. Best of luck to you!

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    • Talk about parallel lives! Wow! I haven’t heard of the book to which you’re referring, but I’m guessing it needs to be on my “to be read” pile, which is growing taller by the day. Thank you for sharing the title with me. Obviously, it helped you a lot. I’m in. (Plus, I get to pick the next book at book club. #truestory!)

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  16. I’m bawlilng over here. You have no idea. I relate to every word, every precious, brilliant, well-written word. You are so very talented. Thank you for sharing your talent and your vulnerability with the world. I want to talk more about EMDR with you sometime! And, I want to be your writing partner. There, I said it.😉

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    • Mary: Thank you so much for your vote of confidence! You have such a phenomenal voice! I admire you so much, and I appreciate that you’ve been willing to share contacts. I haven’t had the courage to submit to BlogHer yet, but I will. Eventually.

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  17. Don’t know about your fiction, never having read it, but I do know your writing. You’re at the top of my list of bloggers. So sorry you’ve had to deal with all these demons, but I’m glad you found something that works. And I’d be honored to be your writing/critique partner.

    For several years I allowed the negative input of others to make me doubt I could write – until the fabulous Jillian Dodd set me straight. I don’t have the biggest blog following on the net, and my book sales have never exactly taken off, but I’ve received enough positive comments on the writing to realize it’s my promoting that sucks, not my writing.

    Now if I could just find some equivalent to EMDR to make me a good and confident promoter . . .

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    • David: You are a huge inspiration to me. I know you’ve pushed through your writing demons, and now you’re a published author! I’m so proud of your pioneering spirit and your willingness to continue learning! Trust me, if I need a critique partner? You’ll be among those that I call.

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  18. Hey, now I know how you know Vicki! She’s my therapist too. lol She did EMDR for my PTSD from my abusive marriage and then when I was having a breakdown after my ex vanished and stopped paying. It worked great. I hope you are on a good road now.

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  19. And just think Renee, in ‘sharing’ our struggles (in the blogoshere?) with others we lessen their paralysis-power AND in writing, or journaling, or blogging about them we gain a more objective perspective on their sources and on ourselves!🙂

    From a quantum mechanics/physics point-of-view, I totally get EMDR! Thank you for this ‘other angle’!

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  20. HI Renée, Thanks so much for this fabulous post. I’ve always been curious about EMDR. I have done tons of therapy, but never had an opportunity to try EMDR. I’m so glad it’s working for you.
    Can I just say how sorry I am that you lost twenty years of work. It’s a great reminder to back-up like someone deranged.

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    • Oh yes! Backup, backup and backup again. I learned the hard way.

      Meanwhile, I’m no stranger to therapy — and EMDR is a totally different animal. I’ve found it much more helpful than anything else I’ve ever done. If you’re ever stuck, look into it!

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  21. I haven’t tried EMDR, but in the process of helping a friend/fellow writer with her social media, I got a taste of EFT. I’d been struggling/procrastinating and just frustrating myself. A little work with her helped me see myself a little more clearly and to understand why I was having those struggles. Thank you for bravely sharing your story! I’m glad it seems to be helping you!

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  22. I have heard of it, but like you said – used in a “trauma” based situation. I love that thought process of using it for re-energizing, and provide peak performance levels.

    It can be so damaging to hold onto pressure … so so damaging. Yay for those vibrating paddles and your rebuilding confidence! I can smell the confidence from here!

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  23. Hey Renee, this piece was strong and moving. I could relate to it on so many levels, the growing up with perfection expected, losing confidence in myself, and fear of failure. You show how strong you are by actually doing something to change your mindset, withh the EMDR. Be proud. Having watched my kids hit that obstacle that knocked their confidence out the door, to experiencing it myself, it’s a tough one. Pema Chodron’s “When THings Fall Apart” is my bible during tough times. I read it again and again. Writing is in your soul, it’s how you express your art. These obstacles will come and go, what you do with the challenges is what can be exciting. See it through, before you know it you will be writing even better than you already do, which is truly wonderful!

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  24. I’ve never heard of this, but I completely believe in our power to reprogram our minds. We have to work hard though, because some of our thought patterns are neural pathways that are so powerfully made! It’s like a rut we can’t get our wheels to pull out of because it’s the size of the grand canyon. We just continually follow the same thought pathways without even thinking about them anymore. I’m glad you’re doing something about it! You can definitely create new neural pathways, and the new ones will actually be stronger than the old ones because of how hard you work to make them – the impression will be very strong. But it just takes time. Yay for you!

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    • Yes! That’s it exactly, Michelle! Sheesh! Grand Canyon sized grooves, indeed. Meanwhile, with EMDR, my canyon seems to be shrinking a little bit each day. And my wagon wheels are moving again. Thank you for your support. Really.

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  25. Well, now I’m really curious as to who this writer you described is. Because, as has been said before above, that sounds EXACTLY like you and the way you write. It’s like you are appreciating the qualities that you strive for in yourself, without even knowing that you are actually looking in a mirror.

    You are a brilliant writer, but if you feel this therapy will help strengthen your abilities and your confidence in your writing, then it sounds like just the thing for you. I’m so glad it’s working for you.

    And I, too, want to kick that former partner of yours in the shins. Maybe you and I will both eventually get our shiz together and be ready to write . . . together. 🙂

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    • Hi Misty! Truth be told, I learned a lot from working with my former writing partner: even adults can be tricked, betrayed and used. Sad, but true. Meanwhile, I admire her: after all, her book is published now. I’ll never allow someone to drain me like that. I gave too much of myself, too freely. Poured my best ideas into her manuscript. Never again. Thanks for sticking with me through the good times and the bad.

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  26. This post has intrigued me on so many levels. You have always been one of the bloggers and writers that I have looked up to. You are an amazing writer! Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and please know that YOU ARE A WRITER and imperfection is the new perfect.🙂
    I am very interested in EMDR. I have never heard of it before but wonder if it might help with the postpartum depression and PTSD I experienced after the birth of my son? He’s almost 4 now and I’m certainly better than I was, but I may have to look into this.

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    • Julia! Thank you for the compliments. More importantly, I KNOW that EMDR can help you, if presented in the right way with a skilled practitioner. I had missed PTSD after my son’s birth, and he’s 14 years old now. For years I’ve felt like I have needed to be perfect, maybe for sucking so much in the beginning. So I’m giving myself permission for being imperfect, trying to enjoy the moment. So what if I never write that best-selling novel? I’m going to keep writing and learning and growing.

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  27. Renee, first off I just want to say how impressed I am with your vulnerability about all the pain surrounding your writing -the pressure, the betrayal, the loss of data. It takes a lot of guts, girlfriend, and you’ve got them!

    Secondly, as for the idiot who dropped you as a writing partner -she must have lost her mind. Don’t believe the lie that it was because of your writing skill -or lack of. I’d guess it has much more to do with her lack of integrity.

    Lastly, about EMDR… I have not done it myself but I know several people who have. They all say it was very helpful, too. I’m so glad you went out on a limb and tried it and that it was so successful!

    I’m predicting this whole phase of disappointment come motivation will send your writing into orbit as you experience lift-off!

    We’re all rooting for you, Renee! You ARE a writer, and a valued member of the blogging community, too!

    much love and hugs to you,
    xoxo

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  28. What a powerful post and an interesting journey you are going on, it is a wonderful resource to develop, to turn each negative expression into a positive manifestation of it. And I am sure you will master it and believe in it and grow from it.

    Aromatherapy is one of my passions and every Christmas I make a little collection of therapeutic blends and part of doing this is to come up with a name for the blend. I start out by describing the thing I want the blend to eliminate, for example anxiety, stress, insomnia, creative block etc because most of the oils we know them for their ability to remove something negative.

    But then I said, but I don’t want to create a Christmas blend that reminds someone of the negative thing they’re trying to eliminate, I want to express it as the positive thing they gain, so for every blend, I sat and came up with a positive written expression for it’s quality, so anxiety became Uplifting the Spirit, Insomnia became Sweet Dreams, Stress became Serenity, and Creative Block became Awaken the Muse and then the ultimate one that everyone loved didn’t come from the elimination of anything negative at all, it was a blend just to celebrate the feminine, the woman, us and I called it Wild Woman – to capture that freedom to just be who you are and not to have to always succumb to expectations.

    You are a writer, you have it in you already to turn all that thinking into something tender and beautiful and nurturing of your own self.

    Go with it and bonne chance!

    P.S. Found my way here after visiting On the Homefront

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    • Claire! I LOVE that you make therapeutic blends and that you tweaked the names to make them more positive! Clever clever! Because who wants “Insomnia” when you could have “Restful”? Do you ever sell your stuff on your blog? Or do giveaways? I’ll have to bop over to see! And yes, Louann is wonderful! I’m overwhelmed by her kind post to me the other day. Wow! Who does that?! Nice to meet you.

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  29. I’m always struck how we assume that everyone else is confident and fearless, that we must be the only ones full of self-doubt; then someone comes out and says “me too!” And we’re all “no way!” You rock, Renee (can’t do accents on my phone). I have heard of this therapy but haven’t used it myself; I have had great success with biofeedback and Holosync meditation.

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    • JM: I have to say – all of my favorite writers are showing up today! I’m so glad to hear you’ve had great luck with biofeedback and other therapies. I’ve always said getting therapy is the greatest gift one can give to oneself. I wish there was less of a stigma around admitting that one is getting help. As you know, it can change everything!

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  30. EMDR was just catching on around the time that I retired from my psychotherapy practice. I thought it was quite fascinating, but since being retired I haven’t really kept up with the scientific study of it. So I can’t give an up-to-date explanation.

    But knowing the human mind as I do, my sense is that it forces the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate differently (and better than normal) during therapy. The left hemisphere is the center of language (the part most active when we are talking about something, such as in therapy) and the right hemisphere is where memories of events in our lives (including the emotions around them) are stored. By getting the channels between the two opened up more with the EMDR during therapy, the stuff you talk about can more readily shift the actual feelings.

    This is just my little pet theory about it. But what I know is that it does speed up the healing process in most people. Combine that with changing self-talk (another powerful intervention) and I’m not surprised at your success, Renee.

    On a more personal note, I too am a recovering perfectionist. And I am quite convinced that my perfectionism was one of the things that kept me from pursuing writing earlier in my life. I just couldn’t handle even the gentlest of rejections back then. I am so happy for you that you are dumping that crap from your psyche. (I snickered when I read your comment above about how quiet it is in your head now. Yup, been there. Feels good to only have to answer to yourself!)

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  31. flyingplatypi

    This was a wonderfully written and very touching post. Whatever you’ve been filling your head with is nonsense. You are amazing and I’m happy that you are coming to realize it again.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    • Hi Val: The comments here have been so wonderful and affirming. I’m prone to brush them off and say people are just being nice.

      But.

      I’m choosing to believe them. Because writers understand other writers. Thanks for holding me up.

      Like

  32. Andrea @ Maybe It's Just Me

    So I am fairly new here, but you came with such rave reviews and did not disappoint one bit. I cannot imagine what you lost, nor doubting your talent if I possessed something similar. So glad you are on to something as it sounds fascinating!

    Like

  33. Sorry for what happened to you.

    Like

  34. You ARE a writer, and I WILL BUY YOUR BOOK WHEN YOU GET IT WRITTEN; so write it already! Thank you for the advice.

    Like

  35. ***I’m feeling less compelled to be perfect.***

    thank god. I find that perfection is quite boring or overrated.

    you, on the other hand, are not boring. Xxxx

    Like

  36. Finally, I’m home and I have the time to do more than skim this piece – to really read it.

    First of all, thanks for the information on EMDR. I had never heard of it before.

    I applaud your generosity. To expose your soft underbelly (metaphorically, since I know you have 6-pack abs) to public scrutiny in the hope you can thus help others – that’s a real gift.

    More than that, you’re brave. I rarely have the courage to describe my own doubts and struggles with such painful honesty, preferring to use humor, not as a disguise, but as a shield to help repel attack.

    All the things you say about your “admired” writer are true about YOU. The Bible cautions us to look to the plank in our own eye before we criticize the speck in our neighbor’s, but I think the converse is often true. We see and admire in others what we cannot admire in ourselves because our internal filters won’t let us.

    You ARE a writer. A damn good writer. One I’m so happy and proud to have come to know as a friend.

    Like

  37. Unfortunately these techniques don’t work on me (I’ve tried them). But I found a different way to throw off the negative influences of parents – or in my case parent, as it was mostly my dad who dumped that sort of perfectionist crap on me – and that was, while he was still alive, I confronted him with it and finally told him that, as an adult, I have my own views, opinions and ways of doing and experiencing things and if he didn’t like it – tough. He stopped. Well, mostly stopped. (Well, apart from that sort of nagginess that perfectionist parents sort of dump on us.)

    Thanks for using the pic, by the way. Sorry I only just saw it as I was off blogs and social media when you posted it and have only been back a day or two.

    Like

  38. Pingback: the Infinite Monkey speaks: on a different kind of strength | steadily skipping stones

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