THE MAKING OF OPERATIONAL EMOTIONAL FREEDOM
My personal interest in working with veterans and their family members made this project hold a special appeal. I was already involved in working with veterans and their family members, and knew far too well how devastating and far reaching the after effects of military service and time spent in combat zones could be. While for a moment the idea felt a tiny bit daunting, it vanished in a flood of excitement. This was a wonderful opportunity to help those who attended and at the same time be involved with an undertaking that could help EFT gain the respect and recognition it deserves. It represented a chance to assist with something that could demonstrate the profound difference this technique can make and get it into the hands of potentially hundreds of thousands and possibly millions. And I felt it was past time for a documentary of this nature. I was honored to participate, and continue to hold great hope for the difference that getting this dynamic film into the right hands can make.
During the years "before EFT", I had personally struggled with the loss of loved ones in battle, suicide of some left behind, watching the disastrous effect that loss of limbs, nightmares and flashbacks could create, and the ending of my marriage to a helicopter pilot a few years after his return from Viet Nam. I no longer knew or understood the person beside me, but rapidly found that I never knew what to expect. Being too close to the situation, unfamiliar with PTSD at that time and having no one to turn to, only long after the fact did I understand the situation. I would have given anything to have the knowledge I do now, along with the gift of EFT. Most, like myself, didn't know what to expect and certainly weren't prepared for the aftermath that most certainly comes in varying degrees, with each situation being unique unto itself.
In my opinion, anyone with a modicum of compassion would find it impossible to have read the bios and diagnosis of our participants and not be profoundly touched. It was apparent that these brave souls who had the courage to gather on unfamiliar turf with a group of complete strangers, deserved the greatest of respect. In order for them to receive maximum benefit, paying special attention to helping them feel as safe and at ease as possible remained my constant priority. An interesting twist to that, came that first night when one of the vets voiced that he saw us as the brave ones, since he was convinced that we probably had little understanding of who they really were or what we might be facing.
There was no doubt that the tension that filled the room the first evening we all gathered was palpable. Who wouldn't have been tense sitting in the shoes of our participants? They were all there seeking relief, but uncertain as to how things would unfold for them personally. And let's face it; most of them had worked with a multitude of options in an attempt to improve their quality of life to no avail. And many were feeling anxious with the thought facing their history and its challenges.
She began to tell the story of the day her father left. He came home and told her mother to put his clothes in a suit case, because he was leaving them to live with another woman. He left them with no way to pay the rent or buy food. There was no food in the house, and her mother had a single penny in her possession. She sent Marta to the store to purchase sugar so that they could at least have sugar water before going to bed.
It is always beautiful to witness EFT as it lends itself to relieving the anxieties related to facing one's challenges. Relieving those anxieties first is essential to success when working with trauma. For many those anxieties and the anticipation are overwhelming enough to keep them from ever seeking assistance. In my experience I have found this particularly true as it relates to veterans. Many times the best approach is to begin to work with the family members that seek assistance on their behalf. Typically when a loved one can share their first hand experience and encouragement, the veteran is more apt to be open to the possibility that something positive could transpire.
For me, the intake information provided became the impetus for maintaining the calm resolve required to enter each session and remain totally engaged with them, while compassionately disconnected.
In each session, as we worked through the various aspects of each issue, there were moments when emotions intensified to a level that made the process seem arduous for some. However, with the rapid relief they experienced as they let go of their anxieties, painful memories of combat and other life experiences, there was no doubt they felt it worthwhile.
The stories shared in sessions were heart wrenching and horrific. Having the chance to take an active part in the unwinding and release of the resultant pain, guilt, anger, grief and deep sadness was joyous and gratifying. To be present as they continued to share their deep sense of relief and renewal more with each day, offered immeasurable rewards.
Our morning check ins with participants were "eye opening" indeed. You never knew whether the news would be good, bad or indifferent as to how they were feeling in general, about their progress and their sleep. Some found that the more they relieved current symptoms, blocked memories began to surface and they arrived reporting the resultant anxiousness. Others were excited to report they had no nightmares, while others experienced more. The majority reported sleep improving with each day. All of these things should be expected as a natural part of progress. Checking in was also essential for setting priorities for each individual.
When you learn to properly connect, create and hold a safe space for the individual you are working with, this technique allows for what sometimes appears like magic taking place before your very eyes. And, in fact many times it does. Not to say that it doesn't take time, because this is definitely to be seen as a process that requires time and patience.
The greatest reward for me was derived through having the immense pleasure of working with Art and Carole Fritog. Art's frequent flashbacks and the nightmares he had experienced for decades were becoming a thing of the past. His constant hyper-vigilance faded and his sleep improved tremendously. Even he was astounded by his progress. Carole's migraines were diminishing and as she worked through her issues, she said she was finally able to find compassion for her husband and let go of the anger. The two of them found themselves returning to the honeymoon stage of their marriage.
A strong bond developed as the result of our time together and we are in touch on a regular basis. And while they have incorporated EFT into their daily lives, when the need arises I work with them to alleviate pesky challenges. They know that I will always make myself available to them whenever I can. Follow-up where projects like this are concerned is incredibly important, since many times after an intervention such as this, new issues and/or previously uncovered aspects arise. And even when we think everything possible has been "cleared", additional aspects, limiting beliefs and life's continuing challenges can and do create new opportunities for us to improve our quality of life, as well as build on self-esteem, self-confidence.
My relationship with Art & Carole gave me the exciting chance to meet and work with seven (7) of their children. As part of the project follow-up I joined producer Eric Huurre for a visit with them in their home. My reunion with Art and Carole was emotional and incredibly touching. It is a memory I will always cherish.
Working with their children, several already adults, rivals my list of "favorite things" when it comes to this project. Being able to see and assist them with their emotional discomfort and uneasiness was like the frosting on the cake. While they were overjoyed by the changes that had taken place, especially where their father was concerned, they each continued to struggle with their own related issues.
One by one, with skepticism and reluctance prevailing in spite of the shifts in dynamics they had witnessed in the household, they began to warm up to me and get beyond the hesitation to give it a try.
After the first couple of brave souls sat and tapped with me, the others were more open to the idea. It was wonderful to know they were sharing their stories with each other and encouraging their siblings to "Just give it a try!". Each of course had their own story and were coping with their unique responses physically and emotionally. While each had their own unpleasant memories, a major single common denominator was related to the sound of their father's voice. They were all stunned and amazed with the results, and to this day the majority of them tap.
The most heart warming and thrilling news of all came just recently. I was contacted by one of the Fritog offspring who shared with me that since our work together he felt his entire life had turned around. And as if that weren't enough to reduce me to tears, he told me that the main reason for his call was to make arrangements for extensive EFT training with me. He is determined to become an accomplished practitioner. Of no surprise, but to my complete delight, of special interest to him, is connecting and working with families faced with similar circumstances, especially their children. He will be attending his first trainings with me soon.
This project instilled a sense of hope in many of the participants who had previously found hope an unattainable dream. As the days rolled on, you could see relationships and interactions improve, and the idea of socializing rather than isolating began to seem like more of a possibility. Eyes looked brighter, more laughter and smiles were floating around. The energy of palpable tension that previously filled the air had been transformed to an enjoyable lighthearted energy. People were connecting and sharing their successes, jubilant over the fact that they were sleeping more soundly than they had in years. Anxiety levels were down and spirits were up.
!Incredible strides were made by most, and everyone left equipped with a tool that can serve them for a lifetime. EFT gives them a sense of empowerment, since they now have the ability to deal with many stressful situations and challenges as they arise on their own. However, it is important to remember that in complex cases such as these, a week of intensive work with EFT should be considered a good beginning. More than likely the need to continue work with a seasoned practitioner will be required to address additional issues and aspects that have yet to surface, along with limiting beliefs or residuals of issues and aspects that may seem to have been cleared. EFT shouldn't be considered a silver bullet, rather a powerful technique that works gently and more rapidly than anything I have ever encountered. Properly applied, with patience and persistence the results can be astounding.
It is my fervent desire that the undeniable results of this project will open the hearts and minds of many to the potential EFT offers. Hopefully it will fuel adequate hope and encouragement for those who are suffering, that they will feel safe enough to consider it. For the medical professional the study and use of this technique can enhance and power boost your work in a manner that will offer boundless satisfaction and success. It deserves your attention. I have yet to introduce this technique to anyone who has implemented into his or her practice to be disappointed.
And where my "fervent desire" is concerned, the intensive in San Francisco set my mind racing even before I headed home. While weeks before the event, my extensive work with trauma and abuse had me considering the idea of forming an organization; the San Francisco experience sparked the enthusiasm and determination it took to leap into action. Even before suitcases were unpacked, work began to launch the Personal Peace Foundation. The Foundation is developing this work to reach a far wider population of veterans, their families and other underserved communities. It offers an array of options for quality training in the area of trauma and abuse to serve everyone from the novice to the medical professional. On request, training is developed to meet the specific needs of organizations or for special events. We are reaching out to provide one-on-one services and in the process of designing support groups and education materials. It is my intention to continue to do whatever I can to get EFT into as many hands as possible. As we all sadly know, the need is only growing.
As a seasoned practitioner involved in this work full time for more than 10 years, I continue to have the unbelievable satisfaction of seeing lives transformed on a continual basis. Watching people regain a sense of empowerment and joy for life, or truly find it for the very first time in their lives is so rewarding for me, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
Watching this powerful film will definitely touch your heart. (And some may find it triggering.) Sharing it with others could help those of us specializing in this area of EFT make a greater difference.
Sophia Cayer, EFT Founding Master
Co-Founder, Personal Peace Foundation
AAMET Trainer of Trainers