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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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

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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.

Journey Home

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

Authentic Healing Blog

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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…

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Seeing

Day 1 of the MFR II seminar and I feel the tension of so many new people in the room. This seminar has more people than Unwinding and I feel intimidated by the sheer number of people; I feel their minds working. I try softening my diaphragm. A little better.

Half way through the day, John demonstrates a three person technique. He asks for two therapists to go up. Donna starts walking up and I get a nudge from Dave sitting beside me to go up. Thanks Dave. I’m going. We work with two people. They are great and I have fun up there. I look into the audience and I see all the faces looking at John and the volunteer demo person. I can see them. They are clear.

During lunch I ask John what I can do about my racing and skipping heartbeat. It’s been skipping on and off for a year and has gotten worse in the last six months. It had dissipated after unwinding, but was getting progressively worse today. It was concerning me enough to mention it. He asked if he could to some work on it. I was hesitant, again, but agreed I needed it.

I laid down and he began to work. He starts with putting some ribs back in. Then some structural work. I was getting my first treatment from him since my Intensive in 2005. Back then, I was too far out of my body to feel and trust. “When you feel yourself going back in time, let yourself come back to the present”, he said. He does some work. I feel myself slipping back; tensing. “Are you in the present?” he asks right at that moment. I come back. “I’m trying”, I say. Then I fall into my body. “There you go”, he says. My body relaxes. “Soften even more,” he says. I do and then the waves come. Waves of emotion. I let them come and every time I stifle or hesitate, John dialogues and my walls come down. Crying, fear washing through me, movement to contract, softening, another wave of emotion, and another. A small sound escapes me. John echoes it. More crying and with it this time, the sound. I hear people walking into the room and instructors talking and organizing. John keeps me in the present and I let it happen. I am being seen, but it does not frighten me. I soften more and begin to tremor, then shake; my legs, my abdomen, my shoulders; more crying and sound comes out and I let it. Then my jaw shakes and my teeth chatter. “That’s it. Let your body shake”, John says. I do.

He has me roll onto my side. I feel safe. Sobs involuntarily escape me. “Sometimes, life is not fair”, he says. I hesitate. I have been thinking it is exactly what I must have asked for and that I am beyond this thinking. But my body does not lie and more sobs escape. My past, my story, flashes before me. I want to leave it behind and live. “I don’t want this”, I say out loud. This truth has me sobbing even more deeply. He pulls me in so my legs form a C around him. I feel cradled. It feels comforting. It feels so good. “I love you”, he says. “I love you too”, I say and sob some more. Yes, I really, finally, can feel that love coming into me and feel myself sending it back to him. Finally, I trust him. I must be in the present. “So much for getting on the stage”, I say to him. I had no idea that would happen. The unknown just broke me out of a pattern.

That night I have my first real sleep since coming to Troy.

Day 2 is much slower and calmer. I feel so much love for my MFR family.

I walk the tables more freely. My diaphragm is softer. At some point, I learn to trust my feeling sense of which tables to go to. My focus has widened. The blinders are off. The blindfold is off. I see.

The day before, John had mentioned maybe I could to go up for the sphenoid release demo. He will demonstrate with me up there, then have the therapists pair up and work while he does some work on me with the lights down. Today I ask to do this.

When the time comes, I am doing something in the back. I hear “where’s Patti?” from John. Yikes, better get my butt up there.

There is no hesitation. I walk right up and get on the table. I am even calmer than I have been on stage as yet. After the demo, John does the sphenoid release on me. “Stay here”, he says. “I’m trying”, I say. I get softer with his guidance. Then softer still. John is doing the most gentle work I have ever experienced. It is so soft. He does a dural release and then rebounds it. I feel my pelvis. “Let it feel good”, he says. I do, for a moment. It is a moment I have never had. After a few seconds it is too much and I shut down the feeling. More rebounding. I feel a wave. “Let me move you”, he says. I do, as much as I can. I feel the movement from the rape, but it is not scary because I am in the present. After being moved like a puppet by my kidnapper, this feels ok. I feel myself floating and rocking as if laying on top of water. It feels good. I let the feeling in for a few seconds. More rebounding side to side. I feel where I am not moving and it releases there. I notice my shoulders are less compliant than the rest of me. My head is randomly moving. It’s all good.

After he leaves I stay up on stage for a while, letting my body tremor and move a bit. Then a calm settles over me. It is no longer the calm before a storm, it is just calm. I get up and walk to the back. We are done for the day and people are packing up. I feel a different reality. I see people buzzing all around me, yet I am still and calm. Wow, is life really this agitated? The calm lasts. The calm is still here as I write this. I am not afraid to be seen. Thank you John.

I still love you. Now I see you.

Fear of Being Seen

facing fear

At some point I realized that I was terrified of going on stage at seminars as a demo. The fear was dominant and so, I avoided going up as a seminar participant.

Now that I have been onstage as an instructor and feeling scared but centered, then more comfortable, I am beginning to look more deliberately at this fear. Turns out, after some inner dialogue, that I am afraid of being seen. “What would happen if I was seen?”, I say to myself. I’m afraid I would be taken. I would disappear. This brings back the memory of being on my bike and being run off the road and kidnapped. If I hadn’t been seen, I wouldn’t have been taken. I feel fear, then hear John’s voice “let yourself be taken”. Yikes! After some thought and being so, so tired of being afraid, I am open to letting myself be taken, however that comes about; not knowing where that will go.

My diaphragm contracts, yet I put my words out on the MFR chatline in hopes of creating momentum in doing what I fear … being seen.

What does John say about day 2 of unwinding class? Chaos. With chaos surrounding me, I could feel myself slipping into an old familiar place of disconnection. But instead of getting lost in my old patterns, I pulled myself into the present long enough to be aware of what I was actually feeling. Then anxiety would overwhelm me and not wanting the expression of that to come out, I would do things to distract me from feeling. I could feel it building inside though. It wanted to come out. It wanted to be free.

Day 3 of unwinding class – integration of my goals. I reach out to the chat line, asking for help and receiving it. I was not expecting that. I mentioned to Dave at breakfast that I had posted on the chat. He said “I know”. I said, “oh shit”. I had not expected anyone at the seminar to be reading posts. Then, while we are walking between tables instructing, he purposely bumps into me. “Sorry, I didn’t see you.” He gives me a few more intentional bumps. Yeah Dave, I read you loud and clear.

Part way through a rotation of a three person unwinding at the tables, as I was walking between them, I came to a path that crossed John’s. I stopped. I knew our paths would cross. Hesitation. Avoidance. I waited for him to pass, then looked out on the tables to feel where I was needed next. Unexpectedly, I felt John’s arm wrap around me from the side, gripping me tightly. I was caught off guard. “I see you”, he said. I became aware my solar plexus was tight. He placed his hand on it. “You can soften now” he said. A wall comes down. I begin breathing deep and fast. “Don’t control your breathing”, he says. I let it go where it wants. Another wall comes down. He gives me permission to go with it. “Find a place to sit down”, he says. “Don’t worry about the tables.” I walk, wandering; feeling my way to where my essence needs to take me. I am being taken.

My essence takes me to the side of the stage where I sit. Then the thaw happens. Crying, shaking, then a feeling of coldness leaves me. I cough violently; gagging on nausea rising up. I let the feeling go through me again and again. John comes over and puts his arm around me again. “You are having a quantum shift”, he says. “Stay with it.” He leaves and I go on. The physical responses subside and I am stood up by my essence. I walk a circuitous path which takes me to the back of the room. Then it says “leave now”, so I do. I walk out the door into the lobby. I walk right up to a mirrored door and look into myself. My eyes look old and dark. I begin to cry. Seeing myself cry without looking away I look ugly. I hear a door opening from the seminar room and I panic and walk towards a distant washroom. I walk in and there is also a full length mirror in there. I look into myself again. Same ugly crying. Then, I soften my focus and step back. Still crying, I look beautiful. Which one is real? Both. Neither. I let the waves of crying come, continuing to look. Curious.

I walk back into the seminar room. John is reading The Scared Little Boy and the Warrior. I feel the words – they sting. So familiar is the warrior. So familiar is the scared little boy. Then he reads the final sentences:

“The boy frightened and in tears stepped from behind the wall,

not sure of what to do he looked frantically around.

Then he heard the Warrior whisper.

“Be yourself and you’ll be fine.”

Tears rolled down his face,

as he watched the warrior die.

But the warrior smiled as he watched the boy begin to live.”

My body begins to tingle and grow warmer. I want to live too. Out from behind the wall.

Dave and I then pair up for the two person seated unwinding. I go first. I start sitting, then push myself to standing slowly. Anger erupts and Dave is there with a pillow. I walk into it, pushing hard. My voice yells loud and deep. I am pushing my kidnapper away. Then with a final shove I turn and walk away. I walk away from my past. I walk away and my fear of him is left behind. I keep walking and my essence takes me to the stage again. Right before I get there I stop. The gravity of walking away from my past hits my fearful self. Am I ready? The urge to move forward is too strong for my fear and I start walking again onto the stage; right to the table and I stand in front of it. More emotion comes up and I let it go through me. In the dark, I can see the crowd of people clearly. I rotate my body to one side, then the other and notice how little range I have. My world is not much beyond a set of blinders. My peripheral vision is a place of fear. The place where the car came up to me on my bike and ran me off the road. I stay up there until the waves of fear dissipate and I become calmer standing and looking out at the crowd. I am more comfortable there now. I leave the stage.

Next, the group does an on the floor self unwinding followed by an inner journey. My body is moving freer. Emotion and sound is coming more easily than ever before. I hear more words than I have ever heard when John talks us through the inner journey. A little girl appears to me and takes my hand. The younger me. She is smiling and happy. She whispers in my ear “I’m ok. You can rest now.” I see myself outside of myself. I see the little girl looking on the older me with compassion and innocent joy. I see her looking down at the older me like a child comforting an adult. She is perfectly confident and undisturbed by what she sees in me. I realize that I am not hurting her by having her see me like this. I relax and let her take me. I hear John say “find what you are passionate about”. The little girl, still leading me by the hand, sits me at a table. She puts a pen in my hand. She wants me to write. My left arm begins to tingle; it gets stronger and stronger. I am shaking all over. Waves of tremors move through me. I don’t want to do what she is asking, but the innocence of her request is too much to ignore. The feel of her holding the pen in my hand and the calm joy in her request are burned into my body memory. It is too strong to ignore.

Later that night, as the instructors are having dinner, I am feeling all kinds of sensations I have never felt before. I take the time to notice the feeling of each one. Remembering. John asks “are you all right or are you still processing?” I am both.

Still later into dinner, I look at John’s profile beside me. I think, ‘I can’t believe I’m here’. I did not think I would be alive to witness this moment. I could not believe I was sitting, looking at the profile of the man who started me on my path to living. Waves of gratitude washed through me. How do I thank him for that. It is so big. How do I thank John for saving my life? The tears come now as I write this. Feel this John. Feel my gratitude. See me living. See me free. See me sharing my experience in my writing and speaking. This is what I am here to do.

Thank you John. I love you.

I Belong

sis and me

Back in 2009, about two years into my new career as a massage therapist, my sister and I attended our first myofascial release seminar together. My sister introduced me to John Barnes Myofascial Release back in 2004, hoping it would help me heal. It did more than that – it gave me my life back. Attending a seminar together meant a lot to both of us, but it was tough. As a patient, turned therapist, I was now in her territory. This was her career, not mine. She is an amazing therapist and I was not coming into this career to one-up her. I was coming in to help people as I had been helped. We are both very good at what we do, in our own way. We are also very good together, now that we’ve reconnected.

Here’s what I wrote about my experience . . . and then read in class . . . with my sister sitting beside me.

***

Hi tribe,

I wanted to share a realization I had this morning on day 4 of the Advanced Unwinding course here in Sedona.

I have been doing this work as a therapist for 2 1/2 years now. My sister has been doing it for over 10 years. This seminar was the first one we have gone to together. Siblings all have a history and a story. . .

When my younger sister is talking on day one of the seminar, it feels very intense. I feel her anger towards me. I’m taking over her space as an MFR therapist; the thing she had that was her own and she was really good at. I sit beside her and make myself as small and quiet as I can. I’m afraid of her. I remember my perception of how angry she was when I was kidnapped – I left and didn’t come home. And when I did, I felt my whole family was angry. I came home physically, but really I never came home. I felt the anger and interpreted that as “you don’t belong”. I have been homeless. John asks the two of us to come up with goals – both individual and separate tonight. Mine is to come home and to reconnect with my sister.

Day 2 and 3 of the seminar, I am thinking I should speak up. Lots of people have come up to us and are relating to our sibling story. Hearing my sister speak and seeing me remain silent.

Half way through day 3, I start becoming very quiet again. I can feel myself getting smaller and quieter. I want to become invisible. We go to Therapy on the Rocks so my sister can receive a treatment. I wait on the waterfall deck. As invisible as I was trying to be, another seminar therapist (also an older sister), comes down and tells me she’s been watching me be so quiet – holding myself together. She sees my shell becoming tougher.

I confide that I feel I don’t deserve to take up space; I don’t deserve to take up people’s time by speaking in class. Old thoughts of suicide are coming up. Thoughts I thought were gone. I picture drowning myself in the hotel tub or hanging myself. This therapist brings me out of my shell enough to see what I am doing to myself.

That night, we go to bed and I wake up at 4 am. I go into the small feeling again. I get very small and feel the anger towards me. Then a moment of grace happens. I realize that my sister was not angry when I came home after the kidnapping. I realize that I had left such a giant, gaping hole in my family when I was gone, that their love had nowhere to go. They were sending it out like a calling card to me so I could come home. And when I did, my heart was so closed the love was bouncing off me and back at them. The love was so powerful that it created turbulence. That turbulence, I perceived as anger. Really, it was love in disguise.

I pictured the gaping hole I had left. It was really big. Geeze, I took up a lot of space. My family needed me to take up that space, so I could do my part to hold them together with me and now there was this whole and only a thin thread holding them together now. This is when I realized I belonged . . . I was essential to the whole.

I then had another realization, from my time in the hotel room with my kidnapper. I realized my willingness to comply with him – to be raped and sodomized – was me opening myself and letting his stored-up energy – flow through me. I learned afterward that his girlfriend had just broken up with him the day before. He was desperately trying to love her, but she wasn’t receiving. So he forced it on me. My ability to absorb this turbulent anger/love was not me being weak. In fact his energy was discharged and I know this is why he let me go and didn’t kill me. In my greatest moment of fear, I finally had the courage to open my heart. How wrong my perceptions had been.

Now, lying in bed in the hotel room in Sedona, I feel myself and the gaping hole I left. I feel myself filling the whole. I feel my whole body warming and tingling. I am coming home. I am home. I belong. I feel and see this whole – my family, embedded in a larger whole – my MFR family – and a still larger whole – it looks just like a fractal.

I hear John’s words “just stay with that”. And although it comes and goes and feels very, very raw, I will do just that, for as long as I can.

Thanks sis, for waiting for me to come home. You’re the best.

Love,

Patti
***

After I had read this to the class, my sister and I hugged and cried. John had the whole class join together and embrace us. The feeling was amazing. I will never forget the feeling of connection I had that day.