Returning to the Scene of the Crime . . . and letting it go

Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Falls, NY

3 months ago, I received an email from John Barnes Myofascial Release offices asking if I would instruct (help John) at the vacation series in Niagara Falls, New York. There was a moment of fear and apprehension. This is where I had been taken when I was abducted in 1988. I had been back once in 2005 after my first intensive treatment of MFR in Sedona, Arizona. I had let go a lot, but I clearly wasn’t done. The mention of Niagara Falls brought up surges of fear. I was afraid to take my family there because I didn’t know what my body would do or if I would enjoy the experience with them. I wanted them to enjoy the falls, but that wasn’t going to happen with me there in this state. I talked it over with my husband John and we agreed this would be a perfect time to clear the past – in a safe space with the best support and an opportunity to transform it into better place for me.

This is what I wrote of my experience of the first few days there:

Since arriving in Niagara Falls, New York, my room mate Ann and I have seen the falls during the day and at night (including the fireworks), hiked Devil’s Hole gorge, and gone Whirlpool Jet boating in the rapids … all on our time off from instructing at MFR I. I feel I’m transforming my previous traumatic experience of being held captive here into a present with good feelings and memories.

I admit, driving here was a series of shocks – the feeling and sound of the road, seeing the Skylon tower, driving past the motel I was held at. Everything a bit muted and surreal. Yet each day is a bit clearer. A huge improvement over my first visit here back in 2005 after my first intensive. What a difference 10 years of JFBMFR has made.

This is my time of integration. That means applying the results of my MFR treatments into my life in and outside this tribe.

My next goal is to bring my husband and daughters here with me and have it feel good and in the present.

And even though, right at this moment, I feel like I’m going to puke and I’m getting the sweats, I don’t feel it’s too much.

Thank you Ann for keeping things light, easy and fun. It has made all the difference.

Thank you John. I got here because you never stopped nudging me.

Devil's Hole State Park
Devil’s Hole State Park

Rainbow Bridge to Canada
Rainbow Bridge to Canada

On Sunday, Ann and I took the pedestrian border crossing over to Niagara Falls, Canada. We sat at an outdoor patio, eating lunch and enjoying live music. I soak up the good feeling – a new memory of the Falls is being created. I am so happy, it warms my stomach and I grin.

After lunch we wander through the gardens and down to the waterfront. We reach the head of the falls, mist floating down on us, cooling us off in the hot sun. Leaning on the barrier, looking out across the falls, the roar of the moving water draws me in. My focus takes in the entire horseshoe and as I watch the water pour over the edge, I see my past disappearing. The closer falls feel like the recent past . At the far end, out across the expanse of water below, the feeling of the distant falls is of ancient memories falling away into nothing. Moment by moment, the present is letting go into the past, falling off into the mist. The motion reminds me that nature is constantly and rapidly changing – do we feel that? The feel of the past leaving is now embedded in me, and we wander away from the falls. Ann says to me that she will go wherever I need to go. We walk uphill and behind the Skylon. We walk into an older part of the city – Lundy Lane. I follow the street names and we head up Ferry St.

As we are talking, I get a glimpse of the motel where I was held. My stomach drops, I stop briefly with my hands on my knees. I can do this. We continue on and I point out the empty property beside the motel which used to be a restaurant. Driving into town that day in 1988, as the car slowed, I had opened my eyes briefly, despite the yelling of my captor to keep my eyes closed and noted the restaurant sign. It’s how the police found the room later.

I walk along the parking lot and view the office that we stopped at so he could get a room. I had continually thought about running naked, blindfolded and handcuffed from the room to the office for help, but it seemed too risky – I didn’t think I could move fast enough before he caught me.

Ann and I walk down the row and I come to the room I was in and stand outside. I briefly try to picture myself in the room – it seems hard work and I sense that the 19 year old me is no longer in there anyway. That’s all I needed to know. I turn around and see the Skylon tower tall and innocuous. Not the shock it was three days ago when I drove by it.

We walk away and as we leave and walk down the side walk, I feel a drag in my walking. It feels like a magnet pulling me back. I break down crying and cover my face. I’m not afraid. I’m not even sad that the past is behind me. I am crying because I don’t know that I want to feel my power coming back into me – I’ve felt weak for so long. I feel stuck in the middle – I’m no longer a victim, but I don’t want to embrace my power either. As we walk, the drag lets go and I feel spit out of the past into the present.

View from the motel room
View from the motel room

Later, in the hotel room on the States side, I curl up in bed and let the tears come.
I barely sleep, even though I am exhausted.

The next day in class – day one of unwinding, John asks us to look at one belief we have about ourselves that is no longer serving us and to ask ourselves what would be a more positive, helpful way to act and be now.

I immediately think – I believe that people feel sorry for me. I hate this. I hate people worrying about me. The alternative is that if I embody my powerful self, that people will no longer feel sorry for me. Great – but I don’t want to be powerful – I don’t want to diminish those around me. I want them to shine. I’m stuck in neutral.

I don’t get too engaged in the belief and how I’m going to change it. I focus on feeling my way through the day.

I feel guilty for feeling powerful.

I go up on stage for the 3 person unwinding. John and Donna facilitate my unwinding. I stay in my body as much as I can. I let go as much as I can. John says to me “run out of the room”. I feel sooo heavy, but I pull myself up and slowly get to the edge of the table. I stop. I feel nauseous and cough that up. It lightens me enough I get off the stage and run faster and faster to the back door and push out into the hall. I run to a corner and crouch in it – automatic response. I get up and walk around and around — then I walk further than my belief. I walk outside the range of pity. I feel power trickling into me and I cry at the discomfort.

I make my way back in and Judy is there. I sit beside her and the waves of sadness come again and again. I feel myself bracing against letting the energy come into my upper body. I stifle the sound.

After class, several people come up to me say that what I had said and done today helped them. I’m stunned. It’s what I wanted – to help others. I’m really not healing from the past anymore. I am trying to sort out how to have a new present and still help others.

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