Parachute accident: A Vietnam Veteran’s healing story

Gordon, a Vietnam Veteran, suffers from insomnia and nightmares, hyper vigilance, numbness, feelings of undeservingness and low self esteem, loss of interest, lack of energy and angry outbursts.
Even though Gordon received medication from the VA, he was still haunted by traumatic memories from Vietnam, which made his life very difficult. He decided to try EFT for some of them.
One of the most traumatic memories for him was, when he jumped out of an airplane, and his parachute didn’t open. Gordon had enormous feelings of overwhelm and helplessness, as well as anger and sadness around this incident.

First, we tapped on all aspects of anger, the meaninglessness of him facing to have to die like this, his anger that nobody cared about putting his life in jeopardy:

Karate point (KP):“Even though I don’t even want to think about what happened, I am just so tired of getting intense about it, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
”Even though I feel overwhelmed with this memory, it still feels completely real to me, and I never got over that, I allow myself to feel safe now.”
”Even though I am mad as hell that we had to go through this, I deeply and completely allow myself to see that I made it anyway (stating the obvious).
Even though they made us jump into a war zone, and I am mad and hurt that nobody gave a dime for our lives, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
”Even though I am sad for all that happened, I still feel like a victim, I choose to find it surprisingly easy to claim my power back now.”

After doing a few rounds of EFT like this, he felt relaxed and ready enough to begin.
Using the “tell the story” technique, we inched our way through this memory and tapped on all the aspects we could find. He remembered how he had to get ready for the jump and didn’t want to embarrass himself by showing fear, and he felt his intensity rising.

So we tapped on: ““Even though I feel apprehensive, I didn’t want to embarrass myself, just know what happened after, and I don’t want to go there, I deeply and completely accept myself”.

Then he felt ready to describe how he did the jump and was falling, when he realized, that his parachute didn’t open.
“Even though I was free falling and the parachute didn’t open, what a very dangerous and horrific situation, I choose to allow myself to see that I made it out of this alive.”
“Even though I was free falling, and my life was threatened because the parachute didn’t open, I chose to allow myself to finally relax about this now.”
“Even though it is so scary just to think about this incident, and all that came after, I choose to find it realistic and appropriate to release this memory now, in a way that works for me.”

Then he moved on to talk about what was going on in his mind when he realized that the pull was rusted, and when he manually pulled it, the reserve opened underneath it, and beginning to cause the main parachute to collapse.
“Even though my parachute caused me to almost die, here I am, jumping into a war zone, and what is supposed to keep me safe is not reliable, I deeply and completely accept that I am still alive now.”
“Even though after 40 years I remember and relive the parachute incident as if it was still happening, I deeply and completely accept my safety.”

Then he remembered how he realized that he was falling right onto the parachute of a comrade who was right underneath him, considering going down with him, but realizing that this would be too dangerous for his friend.
So he walked of the edge and continued his fall.

“Even though I almost touched his parachute and caused my brother to die to, I choose to see that we both made it down safely.”
“Even though I feel guilty that this happened, I allow myself to realize that I didn’t choose this, I was a victim of an accident, too.”
“Even though I feel overwhelmed by how helpless I was, and I never found the courage to trust myself again, I choose to see that I had the cool to make all the right decisions in that situation.”
Gordon managed to get away from his friend and decided to cut his reserve lose, which then wrapped itself around his head so that he couldn’t see.

“Even though I couldn’t see, there was just no end of this horror, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I am angry about all this, I choose to see that I must be one hell of a parachuter or else I wouldn’t have made all the right decisions intuitively.”

Finally only hanging of his main parachute, he heard the call “get ready for landing”, and hit the ground hard. After regaining his consciousness, he realized that he must have had a concussion, but was otherwise unharmed.

A Drill Sergeant had watched the drama and ran over to him, asking if he was OK. When he confirmed, he was immediately ordered to go back on position. Nobody acknowledged what he had been through; there was no counseling, no support, and no compassion. He was left completely alone.

“The military way of dealing with situations like that is to move on immediately and get busy, so you don’t think about it too much.” “George” explained to me, but this dangerous incident overshadowed from now on how he felt about himself (I am a victim), his safety (what is supposed to safe you can kill you), and his trust (they didn’t even want to help, my pain was ignored and he was supposed to work through this alone.)

Interestingly, after we finished the tapping, there were two shifts for Gordon:
First of all, he was now able to recall the situation in all its detail without becoming intense about it again. He recognized that he made it out alive, and that all this happened 40 years ago and never happened again.
Secondly, and that was truly wonderful to hear, he all of a sudden found power and increased self esteem in this story.

During a follow up call, he reported that he became aware during our session, that he must be one hell of a parachuter to be able to keep his cool and manage the list of life threatening situations the way he did. “I never saw myself in control, as the situation was so dangerous. But I realize now, that I did everything right and I must have it in me!”
This shift was huge for Gordon, as it allowed for him to move on with his life with a different self esteem now.

I talked with him seven months later, and asked him how he was doing with that incident now:
He still feels neutral about it, not numb (which would still be a response), but stress free and calm. The incident has no impact on his life anymore.
At the time, Gordon and I could only do two EFT sessions total, and he is aware that there are more memories that deserve to be released with EFT. I am looking forward to continuing to work with him whenever he is ready.


1 Comment

  1. Gillian Wightman on December 21, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful example of just what EFT can do, release the trauma and emotion from something that truly could be seen to be impossible to forgive or forget. To me this shows all things are possible when we have been heard and allowed to express our feelings to ultimate release.

    I honour your mastery of EFT and the sensitivity in which you do this work, as from experience working with this kind of trauma is not easy.
    It really is such a gift to be able to give back to people their sense of self and self respect.

Leave a Comment