Softening into Shame

horseshoe falls at night
Having visited Canada and the motel room I was held in, early in my visit here, I have felt free to explore Niagara Falls. I could be a tour guide now. I’ve run alone early in the morning when no one was on the road or at the falls. I’ve spent a lot of time upriver, down river, at the falls, continually feeling the past washing through and out behind me. Keeping this visual alive has given me the momentum I needed to fully feel and clear out any of the dark, heavy parts that have come up here. Nature, and especially the enormous power of the falls, has been integral in bringing me into the present. This place is now beautiful and sacred to me. I will come back and bring my family to share in its beauty also.

On Day 3 of MFR II, John invites me onstage for a sphenoid release. I feel safe. It’s safe to let go. Energy begins to surge through me and I start to quietly cry. The wave goes through and I spontaneously breathe in, filling the space with air. I feel many surges go through me and my body softly moves. The energy becomes more intense and my back arches – my entire body hits a still point and I feel my muscles contracting, compressing me tighter into this position. I soften – another wave and a similar position. I feel my arms floating. They are coming up to my chest towards my throat. “Let the sound out,” John says. My body holds its breath. It is not allowing it. He softens and I soften out of the tightening. John has everyone go back to their tables so he can talk them through the technique and continues to work with me.

horseshoe falls at night

He soothes me with his words, then asks me to feel my pelvis. I can’t feel it. Where is it? He asks me to do the frog position. I bend my knees and self-consciously wiggle my feet together. I hesitate. My diaphragm tightens. “Open your legs,” he says. A wave of embarrassment blankets me and I start to cry. This is exactly what my captor said to me the first time he raped me. “Remember it’s me here,” he says. It feels safe to move my legs and feel. Deep shame; ugliness, my legs feel weak and vulnerable. I can feel my pelvis now past my legs – it’s too much. I stay in my inner thighs and soften my upper body from there. John says, “you have nothing to be ashamed of. This guy did what he did because he was a creep.” I laugh at that and this loosens my hold even more. John says many encouraging things to me, keeping me feeling, in the present. He draws out more positive words from somewhere inside me. “You are beautiful. Let it feel good. Let yourself feel pure … innocent again.” These are the words that stay with me.

  
This is the last technique of the day and we have the afternoon off. I feel completely vulnerable. “Like an egg yolk laying quivering on the sidewalk,” as I’ve heard someone say. My roommate Judy is so understanding. She says she’ll stay or go – whatever I need. She reads my body language and says she’ll go out for a walk so I can have time alone, but to text her whenever I need company. Thank you Judy!

I can’t stay with the feelings anymore and I curl up on my side. The tears come. I feel safe. I fall into a deep sleep for an hour. When I wake up I feel an urgent need to get out of the hotel room. I put on my ball cap and sunglasses – incognito – and go out. I walk in a direction I haven’t been yet. There was a hidden path I had found that morning on my run beyond Terrapin Point. I feel where that is and walk that way. Judy texts me and we meet up and walk, by footbridge, to the farthest islands at Niagara Falls. I continue to let the rushing water wash away the past. I tell Judy the most shameful things I have been feeling – things I had only started to write about privately during my Therapy for the Therapist in Malvern a year and a half ago. Gradually, over the course of our walk on the hidden path, the words come out. The only time I feel pleasure is when I’m by myself and picturing myself being raped and sodomized. The visuals have gotten more vivid and demeaning and now I’m visualizing them being done to me in my office. I feel defeated. I feel like I’ve done no work at all. I know this crossing of wires can happen. I am realizing my body responded sexually at the time. I know it’s not my fault. I still feel ashamed.

The next day in class, I suddenly realize I’ve locked my keys in my trunk. I say to John “well, I guess I’m not going home.” He says, “that’s pretty symbolic.” I’m not locked in the trunk . . . my keys are.

The front desk calls a cab company. A foreign guy with very limited English says “come with me.” I’m a little nervous – so is the concierge, but he doesn’t follow. He asks where my car is. I point to the parking lot. He walks me to the passenger side of his minivan and says “get in the car”. Jolt of terror. He waits beside me. I let the feeling go through me and realize he needs me to direct him to the car. As I shut the door, I am ready to bolt if this goes sideways. I point out my car and we go over. He breaks in, the alarm goes off. I scramble into the back seat, pull down the seat into the trunk and drag out my backpack, grab the keys and unlock the car.

Afterwards, I am shaking as I work in the seminar room. Just the jolt I needed to break me open. Nothing bad happened. Even though “get in the car”, was the exact phrase my captor yelled at me (with a knife in his hand and walking quickly toward me), I’m still here and I got what I needed – my keys. I feel the significance of the difference and how an innocuous situation can be quickly misinterpreted – if I hadn’t let the fear go through me and brought my power back in, how would I have responded? How would this man have felt – acted?

I’m open enough now to tell John about what I told to Judy. I need guidance. “You have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s very common.” He gives me homework. Pleasure myself. Bring whomever I need into the visuals. Let it hurt. See where it goes. I tell him I did some of this last night and I was beginning to sense my beauty under it. We hug goodbye and as he’s walking out the door he says “do your homework” 🙂

I get in my car and drive over the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. The falls look open and beautiful – not closed and dark like they did when I drove over 11 days ago. I smile at the opening. As I’m driving past the street where the motel is, I ask myself if I need to go by it again. There is no one there anymore. There is no need. I see only the beauty in this place and want to bring my family here to enjoy it with me. I feel the road – so familiar a feeling. I realize I am in the driver’s seat. I’m not in the passenger seat with my eyes closed – terrified. I smile and tears of self-assurance bubble up. I breathe in and feel taller. All the way home I feel free and relaxed. I’m free.

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