Most of us are born into a family group. As children we accept our family culture as the way a family is supposed to be. We have no source of reference, so developmentally what we experience in the family is what we assume the whole world experiences. If a child lives with alcoholic parents or parents who suffer from depression or uncontrolled rage, that is the norm. If a child is born into a family where a parent is not emotionally available to them that is their norm. And if a child had a loving parent that anticipated their every need that would be their norm. Each of us live in a family culture, some thrive, others carry wounds that can be difficult to heal.
Our society puts values on what is right and what is wrong and certainly I am not condoning dysfunctional families, alcohol abuse, or mistreating children ever. But what I would like to address is a societal taboo without making a judgment about it. Adults can carry the guilt and shame of having intimate contact with a sibling. Some were children, knowing nothing of societal taboos. Some may have just been experimenting, exploring, or seeking comfort and some may have been forced. But for whatever reason as adults they can carry this secret, ashamed to tell anyone. These childhood secrets can impact the rest of their lives.
Releasing the shame, guilt, fear and confusion from our childhood can go a long way in recovering from long ago experiences. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and a skilled practitioner can help an individual move forward out of the dark ages and into the present.
Here is an example:(EFT is very effective over the phone)
A client, we’ll call her Marie, contacted me by phone and asked if I could treat her general anxiety. She reported this anxiety had been with her since childhood and had intensified as she grew older. She said that she controlled her anxiety most of the time by eating junk food, but she was tired all the time and was 200+pounds over weight.
After a short discussion explaining what spots to tap and how the session would proceed, we got down to business. I asked her if she could identify exactly when her anxiety became noticeable enough that she started treating it with sweets. Marie said she really didn’t know; she believed that the anxiety and eating sweets had always been with her. I asked if she would just take a minute and ask her body to tell her why she had this anxiety. She took a few minutes and when she came back over the phone she said in a very quiet voice, “It might be from when my brother was intimate with me”. Because this is such a sensitive subject and anyone working with victims has to be diligent to address very specific details, I asked how are you feeling right now because you identified this? Marie stated that she was getting very anxious. I asked from 1 to 10 how intense was her anxiety. She reported it to be a 7.We started tapping:
KC Point) Even though I am very anxious about talking about being intimate with my brother, I totally and profoundly accept myself. Even though I am anxious and it’s about a 7, and I’m not sure I want to talk about my brother, I totally and profoundly honor my journey here today. Even though I feel anxious and I’m not sure how this is going to make me feel better, I am willing to trust the process and honor who I am today.
Reminder phrases: Anxiety, I’m letting this anxiety go, I am letting it go so I can move on and heal, this anxiety that is a 7, I’m letting it go.
Marie reported that her anxiety had dropped to a 3 and she felt very tingly. I assured her that that was normal, and encouraged her to take a deep cleansing breath and drink a little water. She reported feeling calm and a little spacey.
We continued; I asked about how old she was when this happened to her. She said she was 6, and her brother was 8. She reported her anxiety was coming up again to a 6 so we tapped again:
KC Point) Even though it makes me uncomfortable to talk about this experience in my history, I totally and profoundly accept myself. Even though talking about myself at 6 and my brother at 8 makes me uncomfortable I totally honor my journey her today, I’m 43 now, I was 6 then; I totally and profoundly love myself. Even though I’m anxious about what I will feel or say about this time in my life, I love and honor myself as a survivor.
Reminder phrase: Anxiety around talking about my brother, uncomfortable feelings, I am a 43 year old woman, and I honor myself and thank my body for reminding me that this is causing some of my anxiety. This anxiety reminds me that something in my past has been left unresolved. I’m letting go of this anxiety and replacing it with love for who I am today.
Marie again reported that her anxiety had dropped down to a 3, possibly a 2 SUD’s level.
We continued; I asked her, what was going on in her life when she was 6. She said that her family lived in the country. Her father was a traveling salesman and her mother worked as a secretary and got drunk almost every night. She said her mother always seemed preoccupied and unavailable for her children, and all the kids were pretty much on their own. Marie was one of 6 kids. She was the youngest; her brother was the second youngest. She reported that her father came home once a month and eventually didn’t come home at all.
I asked how she was feeling about this and she said she was a little anxious, but not about telling me about her family life, but more about what I would think about her brother and her.
It was the way that she said it. I heard possible guilt or shame certainly sadness; something she was afraid I would discover. So I asked her how she found comfort with in her family; who did she go to when she was scared at night? She sheepishly said her brother. He was the only one that cared. I reassured her that children need security and a safe place. They need to feel comfort and most of all they need to feel like they are loved. She answered with, “What if I wasn’t forced to do anything I didn’t want to with my brother? What if at first we just hid under the covers together, and then as we got older started to explore each others bodies? And what if we kept it secret? We were afraid our other siblings would want to do this too and it was so special just between us.”
I asked her how she was doing with her anxiety. She said, “Ok” and that she wanted to tell me the whole story; so she continued.She said that she really enjoyed knowing that she would be safe at night with her brother. But one day my brother came home from school and told me that the other kids had told him that brothers and sisters weren’t supposed to touch each other like we were, and we couldn’t sleep together anymore”. She was 12 years old at that time. She started crying and said I have never been able to talk to anyone about this.
I asked if she could see and hear her brother clearly in her memory telling her this information and she said yes, so I asked her if she could title this specific event. She thought for a minute and said “How can this be true?” I asked her to rate her SUD’s level and she said it was a 9, so we started tapping:
KC point: I can’t believe this is true. I am 12 years old and my feet have just been knocked out from under me. I have so much sadness and anxiety from this. Even though I feel this way I totally and completely love and accept myself. How can this be true? In fact I’m not going to believe this is true. How could the comfort that I found with my brother be wrong? Even though I feel this way, I love myself and honor my journey here today. My heart is broken. Who will I feel safe with now? I can’t believe this is true. My brother says it’s wrong and I am so sad this is really true. I lived what I knew and finding comfort with my brother seemed natural to me. Even though I feel this way I totally and profoundly love and accept myself completely.
Reminder phrases: I didn’t know. I was just a kid who needed love and attention. I was so sad and thought I had done something wrong. How can this be true? I felt so alone. My brother didn’t act the same anymore. I might want to let “how can this be true” go. I was a sweet little girl. I’m 43 now and I might let this memory of “how can this be true” go, but will it be safe? I was just a little girl. I’m willing to let go of some of the anxiety concerning “how can this be true”. I might be willing to forgive myself for finding comfort in my brothers’ arms. I might be willing to forgive my brother for abandoning me. No I’m not. He was older. Yes I am he didn’t know either. I’m letting this whole event of “how can this be true” go. I’m letting it go. I’ve been dragging this memory around for the last 31 years and it does not serve me. I’m letting it go.
We stopped and took a long deep breath. Marie reported that her sadness and anxiety had gone down to a 3. I asked her what remained. She said she was feeling a kind of insecure.
We kept tapping: Twelve year old Marie needs a safe place to be. I invite her to come into my 43 year old heart and be safe and comforted there. I was only a little kid looking for comfort and love. My heart is big and will keep the young Marie safe. I’m letting go of the remaining 3, “I can’t believe this is true” memory. I choose to forgive myself and my brother for “I can’t believe this is true. I’m letting it all go, any remaining anxiety, any remaining stress, any remaining abandonment for this memory. Any remaining shame, I deserve to let it go. I choose to feel calm and confident. I am a bright woman. A loving person, I cannot relive my past. I am a good person. I choose to let any remaining “ I can’t believe this is true go”.
I asked Marie how she was feeling and I could hear her sigh, a big deep sigh over the phone. She stated that she had not felt so free for 31 years. She reported no anxiety and said that she had a pain in her side when we had started, that she had not told me about and it was gone too.
Three months later we had another session, Marie reported that she had unexpectedly lost 29 pounds in the last 3 months, she attributed it to no longer feeding her anxiety and getting out and enjoying herself. She is still tapping when anxiety comes up. She doesn’t feel out of control and her anxiety is never more than a 3. She and her brother have talked. She said that it was a wonderful conversation and she realized that he was as affected as she was. Marie’s brother has made an appointment.
Compassion, listening, non-judgment and understanding are the corner posts of Emotional Freedoms Techniques.
Joanne Harvey MSW is a Certified Progressive Emotional Freedom Practitioner (CPro-EFT) www.eftjoanne.com and is skilled in moving men and women from hurt to healing in a short amount of time. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Masters Degree in Social Work. Joanne is the author of Dying to Live: Embracing the Journey, www.dyingtolivestories.com and a dynamic public speaker. You can reach her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (530) 459-5464.