It will be my first EMDR training with a master trainer. I receive a message on my Facebook Messenger account. Someone I friended from Los Gatos California asks if I want to be rich and famous? I can join the illuminati, there are twenty available slots. Do I want to apply?
I have heard many people denounce the illuminati. I mostly know about the organization from a Tupac lyric. Still, it takes me a minute to figure that the post is probably a hoax. I get my ass off the commode and prepare to depart.
If I can trust this EMDR trainer, I may choose to pay to join her network and attend her trainings. I have found the other two famous experts I have taken workshops from to personally wound me.
I have already tried EMDR with my therapist. I am in therapy because of my history of bad experiences with therapists and my inability to get along with my head-shrinking colleagues. One time my therapist got frustrated with me and said he thought I wasn’t a good candidate for EMDR, but I hadn’t allowed him to give up on me.
Taking time for the sake of learning is a challenge at this time. At work we are switching to computerized records. It is not clear if we are going to survive this transition. Our unit has been targeted by administrators who call our service a dinosaur.
On my way across San Francisco traffic I listen to a podcast I’ve agreed to appear on in a few days. This podcast is: Baltimore is Talking Live; with hosts Reverend Dr. Q and Aaron Green. I am a little old school. Podcasts are generally not a part of my world unless I am going to appear on one.
In this era, reality is NPR and MSNBC verses Fox News. The impeachment inquiry is on the table and Dr. Q bounces from the bullets in his neighborhood to slavery to the hypocrisy of the left.
I think about the propaganda of each side so often I have a tendency to tune out; but I kind of like Dr. Q.
I work primarily for people who live in board and care homes amid the buzz of bullets in the inner-city. I feel their stories of oppression are not even part of the debate.
If I believed the text books I’d read in college, I would not believe the things they tell me about oppression in the inner city. It seems like books and education the fact program participants can’t write notes on themselves as a justification to take money that should be going to them.
Alas, I don’t trust books written by psychotherapists all that well.
On the podcast, the guest is an author about porn addiction who seems to talk like the hosts weren’t there. His own porn addiction put him in jail for a year and he clearly was far more down to earth than he would have been otherwise. I am impressed that he speaks from a place of lived experienced.
For my clients with porn addiction, the short discussion really helps.
I race through the last lanes of traffic and break a few laws. I follow google and park in a lot under the Hilton and get to the bathroom before the conference starts.
As introductory comments are being made a woman who is my age slips into the seat next to me. She whispers at me some introductions and asks if I had read the book that the training is based on. I lift my hand to flash my wedding ring and tell her no just a bit bluntly.
I think back the dating years and think about how blatantly rude I had been. Others might think it was as if someone had lobbed a big fat softball at me and I whiffed horribly. I make some other friendly comments to compensate.
At the first break, I am feeling pretty good about the training.
The woman next to me explains her behavior by exclaiming she’s got poison oak. This genuinely interests me and I inquire and learn that she’s been in Ventana Wilderness which I know well.
I met my wife on an event like that and recall how hard it is being single.
I am quick in and out of the restroom because there are almost no males in the conference. Scanning the room of hundreds, one might see maybe three or four.
As if he read my mind, a man walks up and starts a conversation. He looks very dapper wearing an earthy necklace with a stone in it. He works in a group practice in Palo Alto primarily with adolescents. Clearly ten year older that me, he approaches me like he is interviewing me for a position and wants to know what I’ve read about my specialty, psychosis.
I explain that I am an award-winning author who writes about my experience running professional groups for psychosis. I am not afraid to tell him I have not read many authors who write about my specialty.
He suggests John Weir Perry. Of course, I recognize the name. He was mentor to a psychotherapist I know. I have heard this psychotherapist call me out my name with a bitter voice. Meanwhile, other cohorts he would call, dear.
I acknowledge that I have heard of this deceased writer who was in favor of medication free clinics in the seventies. I mention Soteria House, I-Ward, and Diabasis. The man correctly acknowledges that Perry started Diabasis . It figures, Diabasis was clearly the expensive version of the three! I am less motivated to read the academic ghoul now.
The man, really suggests that I read Perry. “He really did some deep work, and it is very assessible.”
The illuminating woman with poison oak invites me to lunch. As if she knows it will interest me, she talks about living in Nicaragua and how most Americans don’t even understand how lucky they are.
She agrees with me when I talk about the facility I work at and the disparities in mental health treatment verses physical health. She says in the nonprofit she works at the quality of facility is an afterthought.
My attention lapses. I remember the trainer’s rehearsed voice, “and then, you start bilateral stimulation and let the person process . . .”
I think about the urinal I am most used to using. I think about the leak that has colored the underneath floor on its way to the drain. Seven years ago, I put in a work order to fix the urinal and years later the drip did get fixed. Still the glistening yellow stain remains. Stradling the stain daily, my eyes are likely to notice the psychotropic shit smears on the textured wall. Psychotropic shit is particularly rich in odor! I think of the soot on the screen outside the bubbled window. The soot built up the years they demolished the old wing next to us the clang and buzz sounding above our voices in the group rooms.
And when I am ready, I submerge from my trance. I figure maybe three seconds have lapsed.
Somehow, I doubt the we are talking about the same level of neglect!
I continue listening to the poison oak woman who has talked about her South Bay family in a scenic suburb. Sure enough, they were personal friends with the trainer. She intends to say “Hi” to the trainer from her sister.
My first supervisor comes from the same town and it conjures up images.
“You know mental health is a very small community,” said that old supervisor the last time I saw her, “If you do something to piss someone off, word definitely gets around.”
I think about how I believe I have been black balled from the county panel that would enable me to open a practice.
In the next hour I listen to the trainer’s current concern about the rise of homelessness that is overwhelming the Bay Area. I think about the Great Depression and the presence of Hoover towns often when I see the sprawling encampments.
She launches a story about a kid from Danville who ran away and lived on the streets. Years later a newspaper found the hardened street person and reconnected them to their wealthy brother and got him therapy. He was doing well and getting treatment for his trauma, but then ran away again and overdosed in an encampment. It’s a story that sounds like the movie, Paris Texas.
The trainer says, “I think when people live on the streets, they get a sense of community in the encampments. I mean why else would someone return and choose to live there?”
As the whole room bobs its head, I fume.
I think of the old flick Paris Texas and I know there can be a lot of reasons people choose to run away. Why can’t a trauma specialist think of other reasons? When I saw Paris Texas, I remember the clear sense of an affair that happened between the homeless man and the brother’s wife who hadn’t wanted him to return home. It was a reality one had to sense. My whole life I have wondered how it is that other people don’t all run to join the streets!
One can feel very guilty for coming back from leading a life outdoors and feel rageful! And there can be so many millions of reasons to run! Some of us are born to run, baby!
At lunch I get a Messenger spot on my phone. The person who invited me to join the illuminati has actually contacted me again and is demanding a response. This time the face on the little circle is one that I recognize. I put the phone down before I am sure of this.
I remember collaborating with the face on the little circle picture. She’d sent me a flyer with the silhouette of a cannabis leaf to announce our mutual event at the hospital.
I recall how I played dumb and asked a patient who was once affiliated with a famous drug dealer before legalization. Publicly he says his family business is in “manure” so some of us may not understand. He comes to program so he has a public excuse not to behave violently and works to avoid smoking.
When I’d taken the time to assess his feelings about the cannabis symbol, he’d sighed and confirmed it was a leaf. I think he appreciated my effort to console him. We’ve always liked shooting the shit with each other.
I think that as a psychotherapist on a psychiatric unit, I am already a member of too many secret treatment team societies.
I pick up the phone and respond: “No, thank you for asking.”
I am not going to sell my soul any more than I already have.
I bump into a colleague who used to work at the unit I work in and we decide to lunch.
She got caught in a cross-fire of bullets one evening outside the hospital on the way to her car. This caused her to ask for a transfer to the more suburban outpatient psychiatric unit.
She is an attractive married woman with a slender physique. She says she’s on a gluten-free diet and we discuss this a bit.
I want to tell her that she can’t con a con.
We had never been super close. I’d shied away from her because I’d sensed she was still a partier. But we’d had a few good experiences together.
She was a basketball star in college, comes from Texas, and likes Whole Foods. She has recently seen my presentation on psychosis and was nice about it.
I am surprised to learn that she comes from El Paso as she also is part Italian. She talks about how distressed she is about the mass shooting that happened in the WalMart. She has a private practice two days a week and that is what I want so I pick her brain a little. She talks about her history of receiving EMDR and what she’s gone through to become a specialist.
I think about how I felt hearing about homelessness and lie. I say how much I am enjoying the conference. She really supports me in my wish to open up a private practice for my niche.
“People at Fairmont don’t understand how well they have it. Things were really tough at Highland,” she says. “I have a friend in the county, I will follow up with him and see if I can find out if you are really on a blacklist for the county panel. I heard they are currently looking for providers”
The rest of the training is a review of the basic tenets of EMDR mixed with four videos that demonstrate them in action. I am pretty able to follow. Participants are asked to visit very dark places and use images and memory of personal resources they have developed in their life to now support them in imagining different outcomes.
The fist two videos are done with therapists who are in training. They are clearly very trusting and articulate. They really demonstrate how this treatment can transform lives. The discussion and review of the points of training are very helpful.
However, as we all know, people who are used to therapy have an easier time processing traumatic events and moving on with their lives.
When I worked with my therapist on resourcing, I realized that all the people I identified as resources had also seriously hurt and betrayed me. Outside my wife and my dogs, it was hard to identify sources of comfort. When I was finally able to think of the writer Charles Bukowski as a resource, I got somewhere. I love his writing and never felt bruised by him.
Indeed, when I will try EMDR post workshop, I will find that bilateral stimulation with the paddles to sound artists like Tupac and Bruce Springsteen help me significantly as well.
The rest of the day is a video on her effort to do EMDR on a difficult community person. He is a porn and meth addict who got busted for having some child pornography mixed in with his volumes of pornography.
He did a year in jail and got connected to a church and is now clean, but denies that he has much of a problem and expresses no remorse or emotions when you ask him.
“And,” says the trainer a little playfully, “You might notice that this man is not very intelligent.”
As the video starts the hulking man is wearing a Yankees cap. He is clearly not a hat wearer as the hat is unworn and does not come close to looking good on him. The hat reminds me of Omar from The Wire wearing a tie in the courtroom. His demeaner is like Kevin Spacy in Unusual Suspects.
I instantly think of the Yankees cap as a gang symbol. I know some local gang signs from Oakland, but this man appears to be of Italian Heritage and I think of the New York five families.
He comes across like he’s not going to trust this snobby goof and does deny all his feelings as promised. And who would? The good doctor’s demeaning opinion of the man comes across clear in my eyes.
Sure enough, the man is married with children to whom he had stopped paying attention because of his addiction. He admits that he used the porn to seduce porn stars who stayed late at the strip clubs to film after hours. There is no mention or concern for how he got money for the copious amount of meth he used. In high school, he regrets he was more of a bully than a student.
I rage at the trainer’s clear lack of understanding.
The man has the respect of authority of a soldier. In the conference, the expert doctor makes fun of him for having it. At the end he pretends to want to make her happy.
I have been trafficked by people like him. And now I work in a public sector job that is being choked by one of his buddies.
Once again, bovine heads bob. Now I am almost certain I do not want to learn EMDR from this person who speaks before me.
I have been too hurt by people who have failed to understand me in therapy!
That said, the man did get to the point where he could cry before her and access those pent-up gangster emotions.
Who knows what masterminded violence he was processing by taking that meth and porn! I think about drugs women, or guns, the commodities of the black-market America. I think of how smart and twisted the courts were to use the child pornography charge to force him away from gangsterism. He likely would have had to go protective custody in the pen with a sex offence.
I am grateful he is healing and living more in love, though. He’s got to live in mind-dumbing fear of retaliation through, no doubt.
On my way home at the end of the conference, I say goodbye to the male adolescent therapist. The illuminating poison oak woman has distanced herself since I stood her up at lunch. Oops!
I check my phone and clearly the option to join the illuminati has passed as the two messages have been erased off my messenger account.
My ex-coworker comes over to say goodbye and I lie again and say I really liked the conference. I really can’t say anything bad about our talk other than the fact that I lied.
I know that I have gotten a lot of learning from the conference. I am impressed with how EMDR enables a person to work through trauma without taking the therapist there with them. Like the last scenes of the TV series the Sopranos, I feel surrounded by shrinks who are sipping wine and being asses all around me.
I remain unmotivated to read therapy books or join therapy associations.
Alas, I am not internally moved past my stubbornness. I am not vying to become a fucking liar like the rest of them!