Petulance, Thy Name is Amy

If you’re at all like me, sometimes you have a hard time doing what would be the most logical, sensible thing. The thing that you really need to do, even though you really don’t want to. The thing you should do, to make things a little easier on yourself in the long run. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind it, and over the next few months, I might learn what’s behind that aspect of my personality. If you’re not like me in that regard, then kudos to you. Also, would you be my mentor?

Last week, I had my first visit with a new therapist. It was the first time I have sat in a therapist’s office with myself as the client in 23 years. To say it’s been a long time coming is a gross understatement. Therapy is something you really hafto do on your own timetable, though, if you want a chance at it being effective.

For years, I have kicked around the idea of going to counseling. For years, I have talked myself out of it. Here’s the thing: my reaction to my infertility is not abnormal. I don’t have a mental illness because I am sad about the situation.

But, but… ANY chronic physical or social condition can lead to adaptive behaviors which may not be healthy. And, frankly, given my family history, I am flat-out lucky that I am doing as well as I am in life. I could be an addict. I could be unemployed. I could be homeless. I could be dead. By the Grace of God, and the force of sheer Will, I am none of those things.

There’s nothing that I can say, nor nothing anyone else can say to me about my infertility that is going to magically talk my body into having a baby. There’s no amount of Looking on the Bright Side, no number of Silver Linings that can diminish that fact. So, for a long time — fifteen years, and counting — the only therapist I was interested in talking to was a woman who is at least my age, with one or more lost pregnancies, who had never had children of her own. She was the only person I felt would be qualified to tell me how to live this life. I don’t know if such a therapist exists or not.

. . . .

Last December, I decided that I had to do something; I had to try something. Infertility is extravagantly insidious — it leaves no facet of your life untouched. And even when things, in general, are going well, as they were with me, there’s still an imbalance… still an always off-kilter feeling. I knew that traditional talk therapy wasn’t going to do it for me. I knew that cognitive behavioral therapy wasn’t going to do it for me, because I’m not dealing with maladaptive thought processes. That left, for me, a therapy of last resort: EMDR.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The idea behind EMDR is that small lights, auditory stimuli, and/or physical stimuli (tapping) are used to guide the mind through the same type of reprocessing and storage that occurs naturally during REM sleep. EMDR is usually used for people living with PTSD, but has been successfully used with people living with a variety of anxiety conditions, including phobias. A key benefit of EMDR is that the patient does not have to give detailed information to anyone about the reason for the therapy; they do not have to recount, and thereby, relive, potentially causing further trauma, the experience(s) for which they are participating in the therapy.

EMDR lights
Sample EMDR light set-up

I knew that I needed a male therapist. I used the power of the Internets to locate trained EMDR providers in my area, and, perusing their websites, narrowed my candidates down to about five. I emailed each of them with a bit about myself, my interest in participating in EMDR, and my reasons for such. All of them replied fairly quickly (good job, helping professionals!), and from their replies, I was able to narrow it down to two providers. None of the five had ever heard of or had practice using EMDR for someone living with infertility.

After a few emails with The Two, I chose The One. After buttoning up the sale of my house, I had the free time and money to devote to the ten- to twelve-week initial course of treatment. So, I made the appointment, and, last week, I found myself sitting on the couch across from Dr. Walt. A military veteran, Dr. Walt has an amount of experience using EMDR to help other veterans.

He is compact, with keen eyes. He speaks in that ever-calm, semi-hypnotic voice of well-trained therapists. He asks me about my family relationships, making notes, and once in a while raising an eyebrow (my family tree is a clusterfuck of off-shoots and brambles, but that’s nowt to do with me; it just is, and I state the facts unemotionally). He asks me why I’m there, and what I hope to accomplish. He asks me how I chose him to be my therapist. I answer each of his questions. He listens, attentively, and then asks me, in these exact words, “Are you familiar with the concept of synchronicity?”


After some time, we finished up for the day, and as I was leaving, Dr. Walt noticed my shoes.

“Soccer shoes,” he says, more of a statement than a question.

“Yeah, Sambas. They have ridiculously good arch support. I love them. I will probably always own a pair, from now on.”

“Oh yeah? I’ll have to remember that. I have high arches. I usually wear ASICS.”

“I’ve heard those are good, too. ”

“It’s Latin… an abbreviation: anima sana in corpore sano which translates as ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body.'”

And with that, he did it. He pushed my Nerd button. Synchronicity, indeed. See you next time, Dr. Walt.

Sambas, by Adidas

As always, I welcome your thoughtful questions and comments.

2 thoughts on “Petulance, Thy Name is Amy

  1. VICKI SCALES says:

    I dislike saying all your posts are awesome. It seems so vanilla-ee. As though the word awesome has no depth. Then again, I’m not a writer. Thanks for sharing this journey you are on. I have sometimes wondered if I should seek therapy but never thought about a methodical method for finding one that is a good fit. Synchronicity indeed.


    1. amy eff says:

      Vicki, it will not hurt my feelings if you say all of my posts are awesome. ☺️ I understand what you mean, though, as a fellow Professional User of Language. I’m at a point where, for me, it’s do or die, and if, by being quote-unquote brave enough to share my journey I help someone else, then I feel like it’s something I have to do. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your comment.


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