Journey Home

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West River Road

In retrospect, I (meaning my ego) went into my first two week intensive kicking and screaming really. It took until day three before I realized my neat and tidy idea of going to Sedona to get fixed and come home all better was not how life worked. I have this realization in the shower that morning of day three. I am hit with the absoluteness of knowing the truth – that this is a lifelong process. It feels like a life sentence and I cry in resignation, grieving the loss of my old way of living. There is no going back to the old way, even if I wanted to. The old way is craziness. It is swimming up stream and although this new way is scary, uncomfortable and requires continual participation, I accept it. I feel out my options and to me it feels worse to go back than it does to continue on. Yes, life is indeed the only journey and I choose real life. I choose authentic healing.

At the end of my two weeks I panic. I wish I could stay for three. I’m not ready to go home. My husband will not understand. How do I be this new person? I read a handout that is given to me in the take home package. In there are some comforting words that I will read over and over again back home. The most important. Go slow. Go slow. Go slow. I am given hugs by the staff and then quietly make myself small and disappear. Sadness consumes me and I go. I feel lost. I feel I have no home. I do not call the therapist they have referred me to for followup back home.

At home I barely make contact with my husband or my kids. I am sick in bed for ten days. I am raw and questioning what happened when I was there. I read John’s book again. I read the information I was given. I get stuck and then feel my way through a deep, deep depression. I have been here before, yet my body is responding with emotion this time. Not so frozen and stuck.

Gradually life becomes more liveable than before I had gone away. I still spend as little time as possible with my husband (don’t worry, there is a happy ending post coming), but I was connecting to my children in a new way that I hadn’t quite figured out how to convey to them.
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I was still very much attached to my male friend at work. I decided that if he was with me, I could confront a few fears from the past. I asked if he could drive me to the place where I was abducted and make the route to the motel in Niagara Falls. He seemed honored. Applying the healing process I had learned to real life proved powerful. The one thing I did not want to do was go back to that place. So I did. I walked to the spot on the road and along the ditch. I stopped and looked and felt the inside of my body. My friend walked up to me and asked if I was ok. “I don’t feel so good,” I said. I felt this huge rush of fear and nausea come up and out of me. I started to shake. My friend held me. I shook harder and harder. My teeth chattered. “You’re shaking all over!” he exclaimed, fear in his voice. Yet he knew enough not to shut me down.
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He drove me along the most likely route to Niagara Falls from there. Memories of the feel of the road put me back in the trunk of the car. Sitting in the passenger seat, I could feel the sunglasses I had been made to wear. I felt the fear continue to flow through me. There was a rise in the road and as the road peaked, I caught a glimpse of the Skylon. The tall tower which is a landmark of Niagara Falls. I count: two thousand and one, two thousand and two, then it is lost behind some trees. I am in awe as I realize that for the two seconds I had risked a glance at the road when I was being abducted, the Skylon is what I had seen. Seeing it had given me the information I needed to know where I was heading. How, in those two seconds, did I know to take a risk, open my eyes and look? I absorb the enormity of the power of gut instinct.
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Inside the motel room, it is different. I can no longer stay in my body. I analyze the room, drawing comparisons from what I could glimpse from under the blindfold. It seems to be more or less match what I remembered. Spatially, it feels different, but then I did not have my entire visual field available then. I merge the old memory with the current. I have left most of my body here. It is not coming home with me. But the part left on the road by my bike is with me now and that is enough.

I process as much as I can. The gnawing anxiety that ping ponged inside me about confronting the past has significantly diminished. Throughout the next few months I bring my bike and ride the route. Each time, a new emotion, and its expression, find their way out of me. I finish the route I did not get to finish and get to the top of a hill with my favourite view. I sit and feel myself inside my body. A calm has settled in. I look out and see the expansive view. It looks like a postcard. Then I feel it with my body and the view becomes substantial. It goes from postcard to real life in an instant. So this is what the world looks like.
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6 comments on “Journey Home

  1. Patti Howitt says:

    This is what my Mom posted on my Facebook. It speaks volumes. There is nothing stronger than a Mother’s love. . .
    Patti: I remember the fear, the helplessness and the endless waiting. The joy of hearing you were alive and the long Journey yet to travel. This new place of feeling free to speak your truth is the best news a mother could ever wish for. You are now and always have been my beautiful daughter. Speak loudly!! Mom

  2. Michael Neal says:

    Patricia, Michael Neal here from Mt. Pleasant. I never knew of this dark time in your family’s life. Words cannot express how I feel. I can take comfort in knowing you had a strong, supportive, and spiritual family. I pray for you that everyday that passes brings more life to you! WOW! Be strong on your journey.
    Michael Neal

  3. From Dad. Please read:
    After 25 years+ I still vividly see driving the roads desperately searching for you, feeling the terror, praying and imploring God for you – safe. I remember your phone call, and the relief of you safe – in another town. Waiting, while Mom and friends drove you there…. Waiting while you were at hospital and then Police taking you to Niagara Falls. Numb….When you came home – wordless and powerlessness in not helping and protecting you as a father should.
    Events: catching the “perp”, the trial, conviction, sentencing, reporters asking questions. Confusion of roles as parent and religious leader. Religious/legal words but buried emotions – of guilt that I had caused this (karma?), loss, grief, spiritual and existential disillusionment to long silent withdrawal into depression. Years of guilt and silent fear.
    Now healing, from you and Heather.
    Absolute amazement at your indestructible courage…..More coming…

  4. …Cont’d from Dad….to survive and recover. Deep pride and profound humility in being the parent of a girl/woman who is so aware, so intelligent, so beautiful in person and spirit! So often I am in awe of you – and now in wonderment of human life and this earthly experience. Who are you, wondrous soul? My love for you overflows. Dad.

  5. Reblogged this on Radical Healing Blog and commented:

    This blog is part I of a series coming out now . . .

  6. lisa kelly says:

    these writings are helping me understand a lot now of my experience and how i need to keep doing the work- when i first tried to read your blogs i couldn’t get through without sobbing. now i am reading and appreciating your honesty – thanks

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