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My EMDR Therapy Experience and The Thousands Of Dollars That Were Stolen From Me

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By now, I definitely was going to have a life Pinterest swears I want. My home feed is full of home-cooked meals in a big fancy kitchen. I must have pinned my dream kitchen too many times (ha!)

That white picket fence in the last post is kind of exaggerated but whatever. Think Joanna Gaines, in a bigger city than Waco, more sports mixed in, and yeah, that's good.

I ask myself a lot:

Haley, would you be hanging out with kids in jail if you were still married to a guy who played in the NFL or had become a famous singer or sports TV show host?

Maybe, but probably not.

- Page Break -

I learned “page break” from a friend who always says that when introducing a new topic in the middle of a thought. I do that a lot. Hopefully, you guys can keep up with me … #HaleyInMotion.

I recently did an EMDR therapy session in a little town outside of Jacksonville, Florida, with a really close friend of mine I met at the bus stop on the first day of 9th grade. He and I became inseparable in high school, and he went on to become a very well-known therapist to a lot of influential people and some of your favorite celebrities. He’s very familiar with things I’ve experienced, from all the cancer Mom had, facing tragedy in marriage, a dad who battles mental illness (love you, Dad), divorce, failure, closed doors, chaotic and toxic work environments.

I’m not a therapy kind of girl, but he suggested I revisit some moments that had happened recently (not the Valentine’s Day breakup, lol) and allow my mind to rewire the emotions toward that moment. That’s what EMDR therapy is supposed to do.

The moment we were going to focus on?

A recent conversation between a really close friend of mine and me. Now, we could have chosen any other moment I’ve experienced to rewire. Still, in particular, this moment was his suggestion as he thought it was severely damaging and may unintentionally encourage healing in other parts of my life.

The friend: Haley, you know why you still sing and film and do all this extra shit? Because you’re obsessed with yourself and feel like you need to prove yourself.

Me: (laughing because I knew this was a classic projection of one’s own feelings onto another). Oh yeah? That’s why? Then You must be doing the same thing because you do all the same stuff as me.

The friend: Yeah, but I can; I have more money than you, I can afford to do all this stuff. You feel behind or something and feel the need to do most.

Pause: Now, at this moment, I am raging with ager because I feel like this was a projection on to me of their own stuff AND I was feeling conflicted because I know the truth. The truth is I still make music and produce because I WANT TO. I love music. I will sing till I die! It’s like not making it in the NBA. Do you know how many amazing athletes don’t make it!? So they don’t make it. Do they just not ever play that sport again?! No! You’re sometimes 50 years old running up and down the basketball court or putting on the green with your guys simply because you love the game.

Back to the conversation:

Me.: What does money have anything to do with?

Friend: Haley, you’re 36 with nothing to show for yourself.

Me, now ready to scream, I raised my voice: WHAT would you like me to show you?!

The friend: Stability!

Me: What is stability?

The friend: Money, career, a husband, all that!

And there you have it, folks, the world’s definition of what stability is. It’s also subconsciously precisely what I thought about myself. The constant toil between being proud of myself for what I have accomplished and not having “enough to show.”

Sitting there, jaw clinched, knot in throat, tears welling up so quick, I said to myself:

“Haley, don’t you cry. You get up and walk out of this room with your eyes up and remind yourself who you are. You are successful. You are stable.“

And as much as I would love to tell you, that's what I did, and I tried, I promise. But if I’m completely vulnerable, which I usually am, there was also a part of this conversation that seemed to sneak off and find a comfy little space in my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about this comment.

Wow, Haley, see? I’m 36 with nothing to show for myself? Everyone thinks that, they just won’t tell you.

Haley, who cares what they think, you impact so many people, and that friend is miserable.

Yeah, but if I just had a career that paid a lot of money… maybe I should have gotten my real estate license. I mean, damn, you’re in South Florida. You’re missing out on money.

All it did was solidify what I thought about myself at times.

My ex-husband is remarried with kids. Not saying he’s thriving, but apparently, this is stability to some people. My friends are making it in music, tv, and other careers, but does that count as making it?

This moment killed me. Even when you get praised by kids inside a jail for being a hero, trying to remember THIS is what counts; something made me feel like a failure.

We were going to revisit that moment in particular. Mainly because, as proud as I am of myself, that moment has been making itself at home, ensuring I didn’t forget it was there.

And so I sat in the chair of this therapy office, slid on the big black headphones, gripped the two hand thingy’s and close my eyes. There is a horizontal light thing in front of you that moves from left to right, and you can either follow it with your eyes or just close them. Simultaneously soft beeping in your headphones goes from left to right, and the grips in your hand are also buzzing left to right, left to right…

Left - right - left - right

Left- right - left - right

The light is floating left - right - left- right

Therapist: What do you see?

Me, kind of laughing: Um, nothing.

Another 30 seconds going by, he asked again, “What do you see?”

And as I was thinking, “what a joke this therapy is,” Blah blah blah… I started to see visions, like a dream. This means the therapy is working. They ask you what you see because although you are fully aware of your surroundings and completely in control, your mind is in a state of dreaming.

I started to weep. I don’t know why exactly, but I think I was already feeling the hope of healing, to be honest. In fact, I couldn’t stop crying.

An hour later, we had discovered the source of why I feel so heavy sometimes when talking about meeting certain milestones in my life.

One of the visions during that therapy session was so profound that I couldn’t have made it up.

The therapists said, “what do you see?”

Tears streaming down my face, uncontrollably sobbing.

Me, “A line of people. It’s a lot of people.”

These people lined up all the way to space, like black space, and it went on so far that the line disappeared into eternity.

Therapist, “Who’s in the line? ”

Me, “a lot of people.”

Therapist: “What are they waiting for?”

And crying my eyes out, I said, “a ticket to the show!

Therapist, “Who’s at the front of the line?”

And as I gazed over into the line in my vision, I saw the person.

I answered: My Dad

It is tough to finish an EMDR session because you don’t like the feeling it brings up. So many times, I wanted to take the headphones off, drop the hang grips and leave the office. But I knew I had to press through and finish because I deserved it.

Even after that moment, he kept asking me what I saw.

The wildest part? Within the subsequent few visions, I saw myself sitting in the room that conversation with the friend happened, and the room started filling with fog, like a cloud.

Then I saw myself washing my hands in a really nice bathroom. I was looking in the mirror at myself and staring back at myself. I gave myself a grin that was confident and Queenly.

The therapy session ended, and I felt exhausted from the crying. I also felt more accessible, and some freaking how the comment from that friend didn’t bother me anymore.

More than that, I realized it wasn’t even my friend’s comment that bothered me so much. It was the pressure I put on myself to “make it” for everyone else, especially my parents. If you knew me in Highschool, you would know I was voted “Most Likely To Become Famous.” I was gone a lot in high school, working on music in Nashville. My parents gave up their retirement to make this happen. All my music friends were doing the same thing. All of their parents did the same thing as my parents pretty much. And all of them made it in music.

My story, though? The producer in Nashville took my parent's money and never finished the project. Gone, just like that.

My parents put their bet on me. Did they ever ask for the money back? Of course not. But you want to make your parents happy, proud with something to show, right?! That was pressure on me to make sure I made it.

Over and over again, I would get an open door, and just like that, it would slam in my face. I would sometimes over-spiritualize it and blame it on me not being a “good enough person,” which, by the way, is not the correct way to think or believe, but I never understood the closed doors.

After my parent's money was stolen, years later, I had another friend who had “made it” in the NFL give me money for a music project. He wanted to see me succeed. So he gave me $20,000 toward a project. At that moment, a man introduced me to a legend in the music industry named Tommy Sims. Tommy’s worked with everyone from Eric Clapton, Garth Brooks, Reba, Monica, Kelly Clarkson, and a part of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street band.

One night I was at a restaurant with my brother and his wife, and my nephew. We were about 3 months deep in the music project, and he called me. I scooted outside to take the call, and he just naturally asked me how we were going to work out payments for the project. I remember standing in the parking lot with another knot in my throat. Please God, not again…

I responded, “I already paid”… (Jo wasn’t his name, but for the sake of being kind, I am going to not say his real name even though I should.)

I had paid Jo, who introduced me to Tommy, the twenty-grand, agreeing that he was handling the financial agreement. Thinking he was going to obviously give Tommy the money! But he didn’t! And we couldn’t find him. I never got my money back.

Tommy obviously finished the project. But as life goes, it just messed up everything. The second time I lost someone’s money, not on my own account, but damn. So I have carried this backpack of shame. Because no matter how close, it feels like something always falls through.

I think all the guilt and shame from “not making it” fell down my face during the EMDR therapy session. Each dollar lost rolled down my cheek as I let all the shame and embarrassment go.

And so, I digress. One of the last questions the therapists asked me before the session ended was, “what do you think your dad thinks about you?” And I said, “He feels sad for me.”

I know that no one would ever want me to carry the burden of not making it “for them” around. No one even cares that much, honestly. I mean, people are cheering you on, but people don’t care that much.

I recommend EMDR therapy. I recommend spending whoever’s money and just go for it. I’m only kidding, but really, just freaking try again. Don’t give up!

This all made sense. All of it. The pressure on myself for not making it. The constant worry about wondering what people really think. I never lived up to my senior superlative. Who freaking cares, and honestly, Thank you, Jesus! But the most spectacular detail is this: this has been my passion since I was 15. Music, producing, creating. I do it because I love it. I do it because I love it. I do it because I’m gifted and have so much to offer the world. And if something doesn’t work, I’ll keep on going until the other doors open.

So I don’t have to worry about what anyone thinks of me.

All those closed doors were God’s protection from the fame that could have easily ruined my life. It’s how I found myself living the life I never dreamed up, taking care of kids in jail, and being available for the most vulnerable children in our country. So the answer to my question I always ask,

Haley, would you be hanging out with kids in jail if you were still married to a guy who played in the NFL or had become a famous singer or sports TV show host?

Maybe, but probably not.

So wow, I’m grateful. So grateful.

Next blog: My trip to Costa Rica to see my Dad after 5 years. He was nothing other than proud of me, and it was healing.

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