How EMDR Lives Between Tetris-Therapy and Psychotherapy
On June 1st, I remember the 30-year anniversary of my Dad's death, and reflect on Alan Alda's quote that fame is overrated. I have found ways to cope with trauma and process my emotions, such as writing in a journal, using Tetris-therapy, and EMDR. Through it all, I have re-discovered the love-worthy bits of life that make it worth living.
30 Years Later, Finding Hope and Love After Trauma
By Michael Levin
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Wow, June 1st already. June used to bother me like nothing else. Dad died June 8th, 1992. OMG, it’s 30 years! How can I remember this date and allow their (Mom & Dad’s) birthdays to slip by barely noticed? I have so many mental-blocks, it’s insane. I work hard to make sure I’m not insane. Worrying about whether you’re insane helps. I’m a child of the 1970s and I’m grateful to Alan Alda and the whole MASH series. I think he was the world’s therapist and self-deprecating trustworthy friend. In addition to his wonderful work on that series going crazy in front of our eyes, he said the most important quote I ever heard in my life that went along the lines of:
If you have the choice between fame and fortune, pick fortune.
Fame is overrated, he said. It makes you a prisoner in a way completely opposite to how you might imagine. My Ex-Father-in-Law (herein, my EIFL) who I ended up loving like a father has such great stories. At one time he ran into Alan Alda on the street where a mob of people were coming after him. EFIL stops his car, opens the door and says “Hop in”… and Alan Alda does! I believe this to be true, as EIFL has many larger-than-life stories consistent with his powerful job. You can think of him as a sort of a sort of Dick Marcinko of the Code Red Navy Seals book.
30-Year Anniversary of My Dad’s Passing
Ugh, June again. Well, I’ve started to lighten up again in June, but there is something deeply emotional. Father’s Day right on the heal of the anniversary of Dad’s death, 30-years ago a week from tomorrow. I don’t remember any dates in my life like I remember that. I found him dead in the bedroom next to me at around 10:00 AM one morning when I was sleeping in. Did I hear him? Could I have done anything?
He was only 63 years old, only 12 years older than I am today, and a year shy of retirement age (back then) able to cash in on the social security he’d been paying into all his life… cheated! And my effing mom got it, she who divorced him and forced the sale of my childhood home and the pride of his life. Well, she’s dead now too, although kept I believe in my Uncle Bob’s closet because I wouldn’t come kiss his ring, LOL!
To Go Meta Or Not To Go Meta… THAT Is The Question.
Anyhoo, this is a nice friendly post, isn’t it? Well, I’m pretty good at introspection and tweaking-out of my subconscious how I really feel, bitterness and all. I believe people are often scared of this about themselves, but I think it’s really quite necessary. Like bringing all those impurities to the surface during detox, you can’t really be happy with yourself if you’re harboring all that poison. And you can only let it out by speaking and actualizing it–a two-edged sword, always.
There’s two lines of thought on this:
- Talking it out, psychoanalysis therapy-style
- Not reliving & reinforcing hurtful memories by just getting on with life Tetris-style
Tetris-Therapy, The Most Effective Treatment You’ve Never Heard Of
Huh? Tetris-style? Yup! There’s studies showing that when a likely traumatizing experience happens to you, the best thing to do is to not wallow in it. Play Tetris or anything else that’s guaranteed to engage you and transition you into the zone. This will prevent scarring synaptic pathways from being reinforced through a shock-induced feedback loop. In other words, immediately do something to distract. Otherwise, it could be the chip-on-your-shoulder, the cross that you bear, the elephant in the corner, for the rest of your life. This is also good advice for after when you stumble upon certain Reddit subreddit groups.
But We All Have To Talk It Out, Don’t We?
Oh, the crybabies? Yes, yes. Let’s address the crybabies who will say you have to talk it out. Okay, well that Tetris trick is what’s recommended to soldiers after say having to bayonet someone to death, or the modern equivalent of pressing a button to let a death-drone strike. Same thing. So to keep those solders functional, working assets of the military, of course the Tetris approach is desirable. We can’t have our volunteer murderers face the reality of being trained and somehow legitimized or “authorized” murderers. No, we can’t have that. And so, Tetris-therapy. Practical, but dehumanizing.
Suck It Up, Soldier! Life Won’t Wait For Adult Crybabies.
We are all soldiers. We must get on with life. That’s just the harshness of reality. Sure, talking it out can help, but not at the cost of a life of paralysis and dysfunction. All culture and society is a form of community brainwashing anyway so we can all just get along and not be killing each other all the time. The only difference between a cult and a culture—one that will decimate a country and whole geographical region over WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) that didn’t exist because the actual country “didn’t have good targets”—is mind-tricks.
These Tricks Are Your Tricks. These Tricks Are My Tricks…
Yup… mind-tricks. That’s the only difference. We are all equally immoral from a standpoint as close to objective as we can hope to achieve in this subjective world. Cults and our own culture are equally guilty of horrible atrocities. This country was born on terrorist acts (refer to Washington’s crossing the Delaware). Whether these things are justified or unforgivable are matters of how the winners write history.
So why not use those very same mind-tricks to your advantage, crafting yourself to be functional? No reason why not. You should! Tetris-therapy is legit. Don’t let your leaders work you like a puppet, or the professional of psychoanalysis milk you for all your money. Pull your own effin strings.
If You Gotta Cry, Try Crying Into a Journal (and learn vim)
Write! Keep a journal and write. In doing so, you will administer your own psychotherapy. At first you will start to think you are going crazy, then you will realize you are more sane than you’ve ever been. Refer to the comedy-drama MASH and the book The Artist’s Way.
After awhile (everything takes practice), you will feel a healing, cathartic process happen. It will work to heal you gently over time, because your journaling activity will be persistent over time. Layer after layer after layer. It will take as many years to come out of trauma as it took to become traumatized and wallowed over it like a crybaby. Sure, your experiences were probably horrific beyond imagining. But so were those of Holocaust survivors and many of them went on to have functional lives, re-discovering the love-worthy bits that make it worth living forward-in-time rather than backwards.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR)
So is there something in-between Tetris-Therapy and Psychotherapy? Yes! Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This has been a recent discovery of mine. Actually, the discovery has been recent but I do believe I’ve been applying it to great effect for some time in the form of the Google Keep (Notes) app in which you can put images. When the images are perfectly square, they are presented in a 2xN scrolling grid. And so to “take them in”, your eyes dart from left-to-right reading the picture on one side and caption on the other. Is this not the perfect application of EMDR? Go Google it and see how such therapy sessions go and tell me that I haven’t been doing it intuitively all along!