Working through the pain and fear in the midst of divorce

A skeptical scientist becomes an EFT convert

By Lorie Michaels

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I want to share the experience of one of my favorite skeptical clients.  “Paula” is a biotech scientist and needs hard proof (verifiable by independent research) before believing in any new type of healing or health oriented technique.  She had come to me for polarity therapy sessions “as an experiment” at the request of her friends.  Prior to our appointment, she had done extensive online research regarding the placebo affect in acupuncture and debunked various healing techniques.  She did believe however, that caring human touch in itself is soothing and healing.

During one particularly difficult session, Paula felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the stress and anxiety that was consuming her life.  I suggested EFT as a next step.  She said she’d look into it – do a little research, and get back to me.

Paula was in the midst of a contentious divorce with a very controlling and verbally abusive partner.  The issues she experienced throughout her marriage are layered, but the crux of the concern we discussed during her first EFT session was the fear that gripped her when she stood up to her former husband.  His behavior was very manipulative and he used their children as leverage, so she felt trapped and powerless when it came time to state her own needs.

Paula had requested information (via email) from Joe regarding finalizing their divorce.  She could not progress with her attorney without some key information from Joe.  She waited three days for a response, but received nothing.  She needed to get the information to her attorney by the next business day.

Paula was unable to talk face-to-face with her ex-husband, and spiraled into anxiety just knowing that she’d need to call, or even email him.  Physically she experienced insomnia, tight chest, nausea, clenched stomach, and sweaty hands.  Emotionally she felt incapacitated and unable to hold on to what her needs were.  Once recognizing a need, the thought of verbalizing it induced extreme panic.

Her anxiety regarding the necessary follow-up communication was acute enough for her to resort to this “far out” method (EFT) even though she was sure it wouldn’t do anything.  I asked Paula to rate her intensity level between 0 - 10 after saying aloud, “I need to call Joe now” “Probably 8 or 9 out of 10 – I feel really anxious just thinking about talking about Joe.”

We begin EFT tapping....

Even though I feel like throwing up just knowing I’ll have to call Joe…

Even though my throat is closing up and my mind is blanking thinking about stating my needs with Joe, I accept my feelings and who I am.

Even though I have difficulty breathing when I think about talking with Joe, I accept myself and my feelings.

Then tapped through the basic series + 9 gamut:

This fear and mindlessness
This tightness in my throat
This fear of calling Joe
Hard time breathing
This nausea
Fear of calling Joe
Tightness in my throat
Difficulty breathing

After 2 rounds, I asked her to take a deep breath and say aloud, “I need to call Joe now.”

She looked at me and said, “I still feel anxious.”  I asked her again to tell me what the feelings were when she thought about the effect Joe had on her, and she said, “He’ll cut me down, denigrate me.  Or, he’ll just withhold and won’t even give an answer and I feel completely powerless.  I can’t get anything I need, no matter how reasonable, he’ll just withhold to control me.  Now I feel rage – an impotent, powerless rage.  Like a toddler bashing away trying to get my needs met, but being ignored or just an irritant.”

Even though I feel like I’m back being a frustrated, ignored toddler when I deal with Joe…

Even though I feel consumed by an impotent rage because of Joe’s treatment of me, I accept my feelings and who I am.

Even though I am angry with myself for letting myself get in sucked into this abusive relationship, I forgive myself and I accept my feelings.

Then tapped through the basic series + 9 gamut:

This impotent rage
Blaming myself
Scared of being cut down or ignored
Feeling like a powerless toddler
This consuming rage
Anger and blame at myself
This rage at Joe for treating me like a non-entity
This rage and blame

She looked at me, laughed and said, “I can’t really even think about it ... it’s like I’ve had an injection of Novocaine in the anxiety part of my brain ... this is too bizarre!  It feels like my brain just won’t go there.  I would never have believed this if it hadn’t just happened to me!”  We attempted to aggravate and heighten the anxiety to no avail.  She couldn’t get worked up about calling Joe.  The physical symptoms were completely gone, and she was exhausted.

Paula called and checked in a week later and said that she had placed the (previously) dreaded call, and though she didn’t feel like dancing when she had to call her ex-husband, she asked for exactly what she needed and didn’t feel the fear that she’d felt before.  She had also had a great night’s sleep prior to the call, which is unheard of for her.  She shared that she was shocked that the tapping had lasted and that she continued to be amazed at the ease with which she released such a gut-wrenching issue.

As a follow-up, eight months after that first EFT session the effects of our EFT session have lasted, and Paula’s only fear at this point is that she’ll “jinx it” by trying to remember what it felt like to be in such a powerless place.

Needless to say, we’ve worked together to diffuse some of the other issues that have cropped up both from the divorce, and from being in a long-term controlling, verbally abusive relationship.  Paula continues to marvel at the simplicity and effectiveness of EFT in her healing process, and has become an advocate, recommending tapping to her friends in distress.

Part of the beauty and the gift of EFT is that healing occurs in a safe space that does not re-inflict injury and trauma – without judgments or agendas.  Seeing the peaceful resolution and fairly painless process work for so many clients has been a blessing. I give thanks to Gary Craig for making EFT accessible to so many who need it.

Lorie Michaels


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