Like a Ghost
Using EMDR to revive a traumatized vet's marriage
By Nancy Errebo
Nicole, 22 years old, slipped into the Vet Center one day last year. Small and shy as she was, her 18-month-old son, Jonathan, seemed almost bigger than she. She held him tightly to her chest, as if for comfort and protection. "My husband is a vet. I heard you might be able to help him," she said.
A petite Asian American, Nicole looked like a teenager in blue jeans and a flowered camisole. Sitting on the edge of the couch, she handed her baby a toy and began her story, her beautiful eyes overflowing with tears. "Since Brandon--that's my husband--came home from Iraq nine months ago, he's a different person. He has nightmares, talks in his sleep. The worst part, though, is that he's so withdrawn. He won't talk about what he went through. His eyes look hollow," said Nicole, her own eyes reflecting confusion and concern. "He's no fun anymore, so I go out dancing by myself--just to relax, or maybe to make him jealous. It seems like the only way to get his attention is to make him mad. I'm just about to give up."
"So what made you decide that today was the day to come to the Vet Center?" I asked her gently.
"Brandon is in jail," she whispered. "I called the police last night because he grabbed me and pinned me against the wall. I was really scared. My mother made me take out a restraining order against him. I called his dad, and he's going to bail him out and get him a lawyer. His dad is a Vietnam veteran, and he told me about the Vet Center. He said he's going to have Brandon call you. Can you help him?"
"Of course. The Vet Center is here to help Brandon--and you, too," I assured her. "I'll get him right in as soon as he calls. Can you tell me what happened?"