EMDR: “I did the best I could”

*Content Warning: PTSD, homicide, trauma*

My first EMDR session:

The memory we are working with today is the most terrifying memory I have from the night of my mom’s murder/my attempted murder, it is the moment the stranger in my house enters my mother’s room where we were both at.

My therapist asked me a few weeks ago what the hardest part of the whole night was, and I was stumped. No one has ever asked me that before. The whole night is so fucking horrifying and surreal, it almost feels insulting to ask what the worst part was. I had to think a moment, but I was honest with my therapist.

I want to say the hardest part is watching my mom get stabbed. But that would be a lie.”

I judge and analyze myself so quickly in my brain before answering, something I’m working on.

The hardest part of the night was when the person entered my mom’s room. The footsteps I heard leading up to it, the door creaking open, the fear and shock I felt, and lastly… the last few moments of my mom’s life. The last few precious moments before everything changed.”

Then I started crying. I cry a lot, but not always this easily in front of someone relatively new to me.

We dug deeper.

She asked me what I would like to work on with this memory.

I told her that I have terrible survivors guilt. I wished for a long time I died too. What kind of daughter runs out of the room and leaves her mother after seeing her get stabbed? Why didn’t I go back and try to fight or stop her?

Even worse was when I’d hear it from others.

“If that happened to me, I’d pick up a lamp and hit her with it!”

“I would just die if I saw that happen to my mom”

“I would have done ______”

After almost 12 years, I’m ready to be done with this guilt. It doesn’t change a damn thing anyway.

We begin the session. I start at my calm, safe place that I’ve visualized in meditation many times, then we go back to the night.

I am in the murderer’s shoes, I am her. I open the door and see myself on the bed, and see my mom lying next to me on the left. I see my mom’s room, her bed with the light blue comforter on. She is sleeping in her bed with a book on her chest and her glasses falling off her face.

I see myself next to her in complete shock. I hear myself scream. I press pause.

This movie stops. This nightmare that I still question if it’s real. I see it like a virtual reality screen where I can press to the left and right, up and down, see every single detail.

We pause a few times along the way and I follow my therapists’ fingers with my eyes. I take a deep breath. We go back in.

“What do you feel now?” she says.

I feel scared. I feel sad. I miss my mom. I miss her room. I never did go back inside until the house was ready to be sold. I feel my mom next to me right now. I feel like her room is right next door to us. Right outside your office door. 

I have said so many times I would relive this night just to see her face again.

But if her room was outside of this door, and someone told me I could go re-live it again right now, see her face, and have my chance to change things… I could try to get the lamp. I could try to fight harder. I could do all the things I wish that I’d done.

Would I go in? Would I do it? I think I would, but I’m not sure. It was just so scary. Even knowing what happens, how it all turned out, would I actually be able to do anything different? I don’t think so. I can’t go back. It’s impossible. 

Everything is about to change. I like this moment paused like this, because this is before it all happens. Before she stabs me. Before she kills my mom. Before the hospital, the viewing, the funeral, the PTSD, insomnia, depression. This is right before. The last moments I have with my mom. 

I feel sad. I feel scared. I feel sick. I miss her room. I miss my mom. 

We go through this until I have said every feeling, until those feelings left my body.

I say to myself

I did everything that I could do that night. I did the best that I could.”

and in this moment, I believe it.




About Megan Ashley

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