By Rob Nelson
“Sarah” was typical of my Fibromyalgia clients. She’d been through the wringer of western medicine and alternative therapies. Nothing had really helped, or at least not for long. For her, EFT was just another in a long series of attempts to get her life back. She knew almost nothing about it and I don’t think she was really hoping for much.
It can be challenging working with auto-immune clients—often they have a hard time coming up with any sort of emotional problems from their past. Everything was great. They had a happy childhood. Nothing bad happened.
And of course this is most unlikely.
Rather there’s some trouble processing difficult emotions like fear or anger, so the memories are repressed and the feelings get worked out indirectly through the body. And very often these are memories encoded with a belief that life isn’t safe—the world is a dangerous place. And these beliefs are supercharged by intense fear. This is what their body has to deal with.
If you think about the immune system, its job is to fight off dangerous intruders—usually bacteria or a virus.
But when intense fear is always running through the body, the immune system gets put on high alert. It becomes hyper-vigilant and hyper-sensitive.
I believe this is the underlying cause of most allergies and auto-immune disease. The immune system must find something to fight. If there is no real threat, that ‘something’ may become harmless pollen or worse still, the body itself.
I’m afraid that I rather badgered Sarah, trying to get her past the happy childhood story. We did a lot of EFT on anything and everything that came up and perhaps relief from this tapping built up enough trust in the process that finally she came out with the following story:
Sarah, age 19, was at her boyfriend’s house. He was a very big boyfriend—a 6’5” football player, weighing in around 280 pounds. Unbeknownst to Sarah, he was also taking a lot of steroids and speed, which may explain what happened next.
They were just sitting down talking when something she said triggered a sudden, violent reaction in him.
With no warning, he grabbed Sarah and began screaming at her, cursing and hitting her, thrashing her around. She tried to fight back, and even kicked him in the groin, but this only made him angrier. Soon he had his hands around her neck and was choking her. He bashed her head against the wall and she was knocked unconscious.
When Sarah came to, she was wrapped up in a tarp and he was pouring gasoline on her! Apparently he thought he’d beaten her to death and was going to burn the evidence. At that moment his mother came home and intervened, saving my client from a gruesome death.
While she’d been unconscious, her drug crazed boyfriend had severely beaten her. He had also raped her. Sometime later she discovered that she was pregnant and ended up having an abortion.
“But,” she told me, “I already dealt with this in therapy.”
The part of the brain that handles emotional trauma does not use words.
It’s much older than the formal language centers of the neo-cortex. That’s why words alone can’t discharge these traumatic experiences. That’s why we do the tapping. Her memory was not “dealt with” at all. It was still wreaking havoc on her body.
I asked Sarah to humor me, and had her make contact with that 19-year-old self who was being choked. I had her imagine stepping into the scene as her adult self. To Sarah’s surprise, this younger self was stuck in an extreme state of terror, confusion and helplessness.
I had Sarah ask her younger self what she’d learned in that moment. She told us that life is violent, unpredictable and “there’s nothing you can do.” This belief, energized by the terrible emotional intensity of the moment, became a powerful set of perceptual filters. This is how Sarah had been seeing the world for the past 15 years.
And this likely set her immune system on red alert.
We were able to quickly tap away the emotional distress of the younger self, and then worked to visualize and experience a much better alternative ending (involving a Taser!). Sarah’s younger self felt not only safe again, but also much more empowered and capable—as did Sarah.
Of course, healing from 8 years of chronic illness isn’t likely to happen overnight. Fibromyalgia isn’t a “one minute miracle” kind of issue, and more sessions may be needed to tackle waking up to the gasoline, or the trauma of the abortion. Still, I believe we made real progress toward resolving Sarah’s health problems and wanted to share this amazing story.