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.


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.

Journey Home

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

Authentic Healing Blog


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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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.



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.

Coming home . . . again

MFR III Gang 2014

The MFR III Gang atop Airport Mesa, Sedona, Arizona (photo courtesy of my friend Karen)

This is long, but it’s my journey from cocoon to butterfly and it took 3 years 🙂 Never give up. . .

When I came home from MFR III in 2011, it was a bit of a rough entry. The turbulence was what I needed. It broke open an understanding of where my sensitive intuitive nature had been shutting down. I became aware of an old belief: if I stop feeling and anticipating what my kidnapper is feeling and going to do, something really bad will happen. I think I felt some level of control if I could sense what was going to happen next and brace myself for it. Then he did something I couldn’t imagine and I went to a place I didn’t know. I cocooned with this until I was ready for another intensive – my first as a therapist – in December 2013.

My left side bracing had been steadily increasing since 2011. In December 2013, I went to Malvern in hopes of resolving a chronic left foot problem which had pretty much stopped my ability to run. It was an opening, not a resolution. In June 2014, during Advanced Unwinding, John facilitated another opening and I got out of the trunk of the car. I also was pulled out of the back seat and watched it drive away. I felt a sense of completion. The experience of being kidnapped seemed a memory and not a current event anymore. I continue to feel the tethers disentangling from me.

At MFR III this year, my goal came from a sense of “now what?” I felt the urge to continue to integrate a newer feeling of lightness of being and becoming the foam on the wave – but I had left a huge void where the terror and shame had been. I knew I needed to fill it. I didn’t want it to back-fill with old beliefs again. This was too important.

The “now what” became clear, while assisting at Subtle Energy, prior to MFR III. Peggy, our speaker, asked us to ask ourselves what we wanted out of this time here. An answer comes to me – clarity. Then a message, a very clear voice says to me: the healing you are doing in this lifetime is clearing your karmic debt from every lifetime – all of it. This is what you are here for. I feel the enormity of this mission. It is a lot of responsibility. It is important to my essence. I also feel the result of this message. This feeling of actual joy I have been trickling into feels entirely foreign and new and right.

At MFR III, the night of our inner journey unwindings, I stay on my feet the entire hour and a half. I am flying expansively, driving up into the galaxy and diving back down to earth. Then I notice I have no voice. I have been completely silent throughout the unwinding. Sobbing, I go looking for it on the ground. As I crawl around desperately, my inner guide says “look up”. I do and a new sound of sobbing I have not heard before comes out. The sound leads me to standing and I walk through a door. On the other side I meet three spirits. The one says “Welcome home. We’ve been waiting for you.” I feel the middle one downloading information into my head. He says “don’t worry”, sensing my fear, “you will only access this information in your dreams.” I relax. They are still with me strongly now as I write this.

The next day, I am silent as we are out on the rocks. I listen to everyone talking about their insights from last night. I am so glad we don’t have to each say something like we did in 2011.

After class, I went to see my very first therapist at Therapy on the Rocks. She immediately caught on to my automatic anticipation of what was going to happen next. My trust in the process was bigger than my fear and I went into that still point from 2011. I let my kidnapper do what he had done back then and stayed present. Then I escaped to a safe place. I said to my therapist that there were some little bits left but for the most part, that was it. “Yes,” she confirmed, “they’re just breadcrumbs.”

Feeling more spontaneity in my movements, the group unwinding the following day became a demonstration of complete trust in my group, my intuition and the power of the unknown.

I let my energetic body lead and take me off the ground. I am falling, twisting, struggling not to come down. Just before I touch ground, I have the sense of being in my mother’s birth canal. I don’t want to come out. My left shoulder gets stuck coming out, frees itself and I emerge, newborn, lying on my back. I feel betrayed. I didn’t want to come down this time – in this life. Knowledge of what is going to happen in my future – knowing what I am here to do – I just want to crawl back up that birth canal and go back from where I came.

In an instant, I remember a story my mother told me about five years ago. She said that the first week I was home from the hospital, I got myself into snitfits and cried so hard I turned blue. She had no choice but to put my head under a tap of running water to get me breathing again. This happened more than once. She went on to tell me that by the time I was two, we would be out shopping and I’d be set off and she would hold onto my hand until I passed out and then put me back in the cart. As I got older, I no longer cried that hard. My voice had been pretty much silenced by then. But there was only resignation.

Lying on the ground, I grieve for what I have been through. I grieve for the enormity of responsibility for clearing my past karmic debt in this lifetime. Resignation turns into resolve. I say to my group urgently “I need my feet on the ground! I need my feet on the ground!” They let go and I feel them solidly. A new wave of crying. I can’t get up. “Bring your power back into your body,” I hear my inner guide say. I fill my abdomen up and expand out. I try to stand from my supine position. I can’t figure out how to do it. I contemplate going into channel 5 and sitting first. No. I have to stand from my own power. As I fill myself up more, a feeling of acceptance comes in behind the energy and accelerates it. This is what I need and I launch up to my feet from my back. And I fly.

There is some residual resignation and I say to my group, “well if I’m going to be here, I’m glad I’m here with you.” I feel their support and love softly embrace me.

After the group unwinding, we are instructed to go off on John’s property and find a special place for ourselves to be with our power animals. I am ready to go like a horse in a starting gate. We set off and I skip along down to the riverbed. Once there I am no longer skipping – I am flying. I realize there is no one in front of me. A realization hits me. I don’t feel chased – I am leading the way. Instead of fear, I feel exhilaration!

The last day, we do intraoral techniques and I trade with my raven friend. She is on my vomer and I feel the sense of being forced – tissue memory. I get up and I have disappeared somewhere. I don’t know where I’ve gone, but I’m not there in the room. I wander aimlessly, soft and vulnerable. I make eye contact with John and walk slowly towards him. I carefully move into his arms, barely holding on to him. “Can you soften into me a little more?” I let down my guard a bit more and connect. I feel the grounding come into my pelvis and legs. Ami comes over. She is pulling stuff out of the back of me. She says to John she can do some more work with me back at the house. I feel soooo disappointed in myself. I was doing so well! Barbara comes over and I sink into her. She lets me rest my head on her chest and I feel a mother’s love deeper than I have ever felt it before. It is what I need.

In the parking lot, saying good bye, I pull out a heart-shaped rock I found here in June and put it in her hand. I say to her that I need to stay connected to her heart as I go home. It is really, really important. I still feel her now, as the tears roll down my face. . . there are some older breadcrumbs. How do you connect with your heart deeper than you have in this lifetime?

Coming home . . . again is new. In 2011, I cocooned. This time, I am transforming and expanding.

In my hot tub I let myself unwind. I float into a position that feels like I’m in a womb. I feel acceptance of this part of the journey I am about to take – softening into the unknown, now that the terror has been diffused, I softly and without resistance, flow down the birth canal. As I emerge, I feel myself say “this is going to be so cool!” The once seemingly horrible events in my life are filled with an anticipated excitement of what the resulting transformations will be. It’s going to be fantastic!

I am listening to Destiny by Zero 7. As the song plays and I feel the support of my room mates my arms drift together until they’re a foot apart. There is tension between them. I feel the handcuffs. I can’t open or close my arms. Then a voice says “soften”. My torso softens and my hands drift apart – opening. Wow! They stop at a distance and I know they have further to go. I’m looking for another feel. My inner guide says “now move into who you really are”. I have the sense of shifting to the left in my head and mind. My arms open, like wings, and I expand out more.

Letting Go of the Past

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Back-O-Beyond Road; Cathedral Mountain

Taking my time. Not getting ahead of myself, I went into two seminars in Sedona. Actually, I was just coming to see Peggy. After a session with her in Malvern during a week of intensive treatment – my first as a therapist – my myofascial treatments took off. It felt like an hour-long dose of another dimension of myofascial release – a subtle level I was not familiar with. The session evened out the intensity of thought, feeling and emotion and dissipated my subconscious anticipation of letting go. It worked so well I made a second appointment with her and again – best group unwinding I’ve ever had, complete with new unwindings. So, when I saw she was offering Subtle Energy II in Sedona with John, I immediately signed up. But I couldn’t just go for a day and a half course and leave, so I signed up to repeat Advanced Unwinding for the four days prior to Peggy’s course. It was just an add on . . .

Once signed up, my friend Sue, whom I had met at Myofascial Release III posted that she was looking for housemates. A few easy steps later and we had a third, John, whom I had never met, but was friends with Sue. My level of trust had increased. We rented a house off of Back-o-Beyond, steps from the Cathedral Rock trail head. On arrival, after dinner, the first order of business was some treatment and unwinding in the hot tub under the stars.

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View from the hottub

This time, I would go into a seminar warmed up and maybe a little less terrified. That night, my new roommate John was in my dream. This is how I get familiar with people I don’t know. Timid in the dream at first, I decide I can open up, knowing I have a place to retreat to in my awareness. The divide is a thin veil of opaque material. The feeling is sensual with a wisp of shame. Old ingrained dogma.

The first day of class, I slip into the room. I make myself invisible as I quietly weave through the room. It gives me space to soften and let the fast moving energy that’s circulating go through me. I notice it is easier this time around. I feel my way to a chair. My friend Ami, whom I was hoping to give a big hug to before I even left home, sits down beside me. Ahhh. When we start, Ami begins talking about her Mom who recently died. She breaks me open. Thank you Ami.

As the day progresses, I feel myself going within. I am shutting down some things, but I am still having fun with my friends. That night, I dream about a plane with no wings flying by my window, about to crash land. I look forward and all that is left of it are two rows of six seats with passengers strapped in. As the six seats slide to the ground, the passengers’ arms go up in celebration. They did it! They are ecstatic that they made it through a terrifying ordeal intact. Me too, I admit on waking.

That morning, I go for treatment at Therapy on the Rocks. Whenever I am in Sedona, I visit my second home. This is my original sanctuary. As I walk in the door, the bells on the door tinkling bring me into stillness. I breathe in the smell of oak, exhale and soften. As I walk downstairs, I feel my wall of protection soften. I don’t need it here. I walk past the indoor waterfall and look towards the reception area. Nancy is there. I am so happy to see her! I missed her. We hug. June walks out of the office, her twinkling eyes matching her smile. My heart opens even more and I spontaneously receive and reciprocate a warm hug. June has helped me through some big hurdles. I feel completely myself here and freely move around. I go out to the deck and look out to Oak Creek. It all feels exactly how I remember. I have been taking Sedona back home with me for nine years now. I am getting good at imagining it in fine detail. The smell, the sound of water moving and birds chirping, the brightness of the sun, the stillness amidst the flow.

sedona John's treatment room

John’s treatment room

I go into John’s room and then a therapist I have not met before comes in. She connects with me; becomes me and I trust her completely. I make new connections between my hips and shoulders in rotation. Decades of repetitive spinning and jumping in figure skating had muted this and twisted me in one direction. Feeling the untwisting, I recognize the “other” direction can feel good too. Relief floods through me. She works extensively on my upper back where I hold a feeling of responsibility for others. I hold their pain. I know this is not helpful, but it is automatic. She persists firmly at these gateways and I concede and let go. I hear her sigh at the weight I am holding, acknowledging the depth of it. I go deeper to get at more. I want to be as light as I can. I don’t need to hold the weight of the world anymore. It’s not helpful to anyone. It is uselessly weighing me down.

She says that this trip needs to be about me and not about taking care of anyone. I need to make my top priority to take good care of the love of my life – me. I nod in agreement. She is right. I let the guilt of feeling I’ve “had enough treatment” trickle away. I realize that when I back away from someone’s help, I miss out on what I need at that moment. I forget that my friends really want to help. I forget that the good feeling I get from helping is also the good feeling they receive too. When the giving and receiving flows freely, it is balanced and everyone gets what they need. There is no obligation or guilt – only a free flow of love in all its forms.

After treatment, I go back to the house and process the treatment by sleeping.

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My room on Yonder Lane

On waking, I reach out for help and post to the Facebook Chat the truth of what I am feeling:

“Coming into Advanced Unwinding and Subtle Energy II, a dream I had a week ago is exaggerating itself in waking time. Despite being surrounded by amazing people and dear friends, I feel I’m not supposed to be here; I don’t belong here; I’ve forgotten how to unwind (and yes, I understand my body knows how to do this); I don’t want to touch people because I don’t know what I’m doing; I am relieved when people stop touching me – and there is just too much movement and unwinding in the room for me to stay “here”. I am not “exactly where I need to be” either. Something doesn’t feel right. It feels dangerous and mistrustful. I love that I can feel all that; recognize it is fragments of the past and know the blossoming will be into a much richer place.”

Before going to class, I read responses to my post. Waves of sobbing burst unexpectedly out of me. I let it happen. I go to class and let myself be vulnerable. At break I find Kathy. I reach out and hug her and burst into tears. I am so happy she is here. The day softens more. I go to the place where I left off, at the end of my one week intensive/therapy for the therapist in Malvern in December. There is a part of me I can see on the ceiling of the motel room.

I wake up the following morning, feeling uncertain. I check in and sense the need to go for a run. I run up Chapel Rd. and branch off onto Mystic Trail.

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I feel the need to climb upward. I walk until I feel snugged up at the base of the mountain. Perching on a rock, I survey the valley.

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I feel like a mountain lion. A sense of safety surrounds me and I soften and give myself permission to cry.

When this passes, I run back to the house feeling more grounded and reply to my post from yesterday:

“I love that in this group, being vulnerable and truthful about what I am actually feeling and thinking is seen as courageous – is encouraged.

Each response nudged me further and I still can’t believe I’m in such loving and supportive hands. Having support now, I still have to do the work 🙂

I am left with the question: how completely and deeply does one have to leave their body in order to endure something they didn’t know could be done to them? I am beginning to feel the deepness of my disconnection now. I am locating the emptiness in my body. On the other end, I can feel the swoosh up through my head when I left. I am starting to feel the intensity of the pain right before my awareness left. I know that I need to dial down my energy significantly today, if I am going to get to that still point. I don’t think I realized how still the energy has to be to access that “foot on the gas, foot on the brakes” pressure when you are at hour 8 of something that intense. I can’t believe I endured 8 hours before I left. Pretty stubborn I guess.”

I go to class and enter slowly and gently. I feel like an egg cracked open. I wrap my thin sweater around me, but it does little to block the feeling rippling through me.

I trade on the first technique with someone I know and this comforts me. Back in the chairs, as someone is speaking I look up and John makes eye contact. He gives me the “come up here” finger and I get up and make my way up to the stage. There is no anxiety about going up. I need this. Seven years of anxiety about getting on stage – where did it go?

As I get on the table he says “don’t try to over think this”. I chuckle and relax into my body before I have time to think. He starts demonstrating the yoke [yolk :)] technique. He compresses my shoulders together and up towards my ears until there is resistance. I hear what he is saying in the background as I feel him gently in my field, connecting, listening and responding to where I go. He mentions that we can hold a lot here. My arms gradually float up and cross in front of my face. I hit a still point. I feel a new connection between the lower and upper half of my body. I hear him say “here comes a wave”, then I feel a flood of energy and emotion pass quickly up my body. My arms float and move. Another still point. I hear John say “position of past trauma”. Another wave of emotion and I feel/hear myself quietly crying. There is a pause as I notice the feel of my arm position. John says “you don’t have to be in the trunk anymore”. I immediately see the lid. It was there all along. I take in a breath. I breathe out and another wave of emotion rushes through me lightly. “You don’t need that anymore,” he says. I feel the trunk and all it represents move off to my right. “Erase it from the chalkboard and throw away the eraser,” he continues. I do. My arms extend upward and I feel open sky. I feel the insides of my hands all the way to my finger tips and beyond. “That’s it,” he encourages. I breath deeply and quickly, pulling in what I need and breathing out the feel of a stagnant, stifling past. I breathe in spaciousness. Lots of it – as much as my body will take in. John continues to follow my softening in the back of my shoulders. He indicates to the group “why don’t you go try this now.” I hear the rustle of people as they go back to the tables to practice on each other.

Feeling less focus on me, I let my guard down even more. John sinks his hand into my chest gently. I feel his arm against the right side of my face and feel the new space where the trunk disappeared. In its place I feel love and gentleness and the sensual touch I had felt so ashamed of feeling just two days before. I rest my head against his arm. His hand moves, following my awareness down to my abdomen. The warmth makes it easier to soften. “Feel your belly filling with warmth,” he says. I let the warmth in. For a moment, I feel my abdomen. It is a fleeting glance inward, but I remind myself I felt it. It will come back. I put my hand on top of his so I can feel it and I come in and out of this space. I put my hands there as I write this and I feel the pressure in my throat and the tingle in my belly. Sadness.

John finishes up and I have time on the stage to myself to complete my process. I go down the stairs off the stage and Rob is there. He asks “did you ever wear contacts?” I say “yes”. “I didn’t recognize you.” I didn’t realize how different I looked since last time I was in Sedona, but I guess I do. I feel much different too.

I look up and see my friend Barb standing there. I know she is supposed to be here, even though she is not at the course. I get to practice the yoke technique on her. She is the sweetest person I know and I am honored to treat her. I cry as I’m treating her. We cry together. It is beautiful.

Back at the chairs, we do a visualization. I feel myself being pulled out of the back seat of the car, the car door closing and the car driving away. Wow! That’s new. “Keep going,” I say to myself. I’m getting as much out of this new feeling of the past leaving as I can. I see Kathy in her seat and we make eye contact. We agree to trade for this next technique, the mask technique.

I lay on the table and Kathy melts her hands into my face. Slowly I sink into my new spaces and wait for things to surface. I float around for what feels like a while. I am sort of there. I realize this and let myself become more vulnerable. A wave of emotion passes through me and I express it. It subsides. I breathe new breath in and out. Then I suddenly feel myself on the ceiling of the motel room. I gasp inside. I was not expecting this. Back in Malvern I could see that part of myself that had left up on the ceiling. I had tried to coax it to come down. All that trying had failed. Not focused on how it was going to happen, I find myself now face to face with myself. I have no visual. The blindfold is still on me. But I can feel myself there. A quiet voice says “let it in”. I soften my chest and feel the gentle, warm mist of me float into my chest. It is soft and innocent and loving. It feels really, really good. I get up feeling amazed and Kathy lays on the table. I feel more in flow with her. I feel more connected than I have ever felt. I listen and go where she goes and wait where she waits. I have no need to make anything happen. I completely love and trust her essence to guide her. I am simply a witness, happy to go along for the ride. What fun!

Back at the chairs, as John is talking, the realization of what has occurred erupts from me in waves. A thought enters my mind: “I’m not in the trunk anymore. I can feel free space.” Tears burst out of me. I feel the intensity of acceptance, then slowly settle. Another thought bubbles up: “I got back the part of me that had left me in the motel room. Let yourself feel it Patti.“Another eruption of tears. My body trembles and softens more and more. I feel completely vulnerable; soft yet glowing. It doesn’t feel scary. It feels right.

Weeks later, I am still letting go. The anxiety of not enough time to enjoy freedom is lifting. The car is not coming back. I can’t stop smiling inside.

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John, me and my roomies Sue and John

Opening Doors


My hotel room door in Malvern, PA

If you become still and listen, you will begin to notice a progression in the daily living of a journey. Sometimes, a distinct theme emerges. You know it’s happening, but you’re not completely sure about it. Then, as you allow it to unfold, without grasping for meaning or putting it into words, the true meaning reveals itself – after the experience has been felt. The realization that came to me in this progression of events was only possible because I consciously chose to engage a fear and connect with certain people. Their roles were crucial to my growth and I honor them. Without making a forced commitment and by simply engaging my senses, this is what unfolded . . .

On April 30, 2014, my friend and myofascial release lecturer Joan posted a quote. I read a lot of posts, but this one felt visceral. I sat with it, then posted the following on MFR Talk.*


Thank you Joan for this quote that kicked a pebble [boulder]. For those who have experienced power loss, this may resonate. Totally caught me off guard.

The quote was from a Vietnam Vet who had been a prisoner of war:

“You can never have a bad day when there is a doorknob on the inside of your door.”

It’s funny how inspiring words can mean something completely different, depending on context. My first thoughts as I read this man’s words: Well ya, you can and ya, I did – have a very, very bad day.

Sometimes I wish there had been no door handle. Then, every time I thought I had a chance to escape and felt the terror of the thought of being hurt, and then felt the burning fear of staying, mixed with the heart pounding thought of escaping . . . well, sometimes I wish I could have felt the soft sad powerless feeling of resignation. Just sayin’.


The next day, I left for Dearborn to help instruct the Myofascial I DVD course with my friend and lecturer Scott. My friend Peggy was my roommate and fellow instructor. Peggy has a lot of experience with John Barnes’ approach and we talked back and forth that night about our deepest pains and what was most eating at us and keeping us in the past. It was not a complaint session or a way to relive the past over and over. It was the kind of dialogue where it feels completely safe to bring stuff out of hiding and up to the surface where it can be seen, felt and resolved. This is the way of the John Barnes’ approach.

That night I sleep better than I thought I would in a hotel room. I have a dream that is highly symbolic. A road ends abruptly at a lake. Humph. Slight embarrassment as I have offered my passengers – two school children – a ride home. “Well I guess we’ll have to go back where we were and you’ll have to get home yourselves.”

The first day of the seminar, the strong energy of nervousness and expectation is moving around the room. I feel the pressure in the right side of my head building along with a bit of nausea. It’s not something I’m used to feeling. There are several people with head/nausea issues in the room. Once I realize this, I do some self treatment while the DVD is playing. My head, then legs tingle and soften in relief, but the headache persists. By the end of the day, the three of us need a quiet night. Time to take care of ourselves.

That night I have a dream. One of the participants from the seminar is treating me. It feels like I can let down my guard. I feel relief. The headache recedes.

In the morning, I wake up to hear the shower running. It takes me back in time to the motel room I was locked in. My captor is in the bathroom. I feel the heaviness of my body in bed. I’m terrified to move. I let the feeling go through me. Then my mind says “go for it”. I sit up and swing my legs around. I feel my feet touch the carpet. I sigh and the fear lets go. I get up and walk to the door. The steps feel half in and half out of my body. I reach for the door handle and pause. “Feel this” I say to myself. I feel my hand touch the metal; feel myself unlocking the door. The panic of not being able to unlock the door fast enough rushes into my chest and my senses move behind me to feel for him. I am acutely aware of the feel inside the room and whether it is changing. He is not there. I move to the present and feel the safety of this different room without him in it. I go back to opening the door. I open it and feel the cool air on my bare legs. I’m in my underwear and tank top. I poke my head out. The corridor is empty. I step out. I look down the corridor as if I am back at the motel. I am outside and considering whether I can make a run for it to the front desk. I’m naked and handcuffed in front, with the blindfold towel pushed up on my head. I feel embarrassment at having no clothes. I’m not sure I can bear the shame, so I visualize myself walking past the other motel room doors towards the front. Maybe I make it. Maybe I don’t. I come back to the present and step back in the room.

The second day of the seminar feels much more connected. The students are excited about what they are feeling and I feel good I’m able to fully engage in their excitement. Some are connecting with their own traumas and I provide space and facilitation for them to feel their healing. As John says, you can only take your patients as far as you’ve gone yourselves.

That night we head over to PF Chang’s for dinner. We are seated across from two of the students from the seminar. One of them is the one who treated me in my dream. Uh huh. . .

We laugh and have fun. A lot of bubbly energy is circulating. At the end of the meal, we each open our fortune cookies. Each of us receives a pretty profound fortune. No one has to reach for, or put meaning to the words. I’m not much for other people telling me what my stuff means, but, just like Joan’s quote, the words bring a rush of recognition. “Doors will be opening for you in many areas of your life.” Uh huh – those damn doors again.


Back at the hotel, I sleep fitfully. I pick up my ball from the bedside table and lay on it so I can feel the inside of my body. I have a lot of short dreams. I do not remember them. In the morning, while getting ready, a statement enters my mind. I feel a surge of energy from my pelvis. It feels very powerful. So powerful, I type the statement into my iPhone:

Don’t assume that a woman who has been raped is a victim or a survivor. She is a renegade.

The feeling follows me through day 3 of the course. I am sensing the wonder in the group as they begin the feel new sensations under their hands and in their bodies as they practice the work. We have an odd number of students, so Peggy and I trade off pairing with the students for each technique. None of the techniques we are doing require us to take any clothing off. The students are prepared, dressed in shorts and sports bras or tank tops. I am not. . .

We come to the last part of the seminar, where the students pair up and put the techniques they have learned into a treatment. This way, they can feel the flow of what a real treatment would be like.

Scott asks me if I want to go up on stage to be a body to review the types of techniques and if I have shorts. I say no and he says he’ll get one of the students to go up. I mumble something about “I’m not going up there in my underwear” as I walk to the back.

Then I remember I had volunteered to pair up with a student for this last treatment. As they pair up, I see that one group has three people. I feel relief and begin doing the usual instructor tasks. Scott comes over and says “why are you two up?” I reply that there is a three person group. He replies “no, one of you needs to pair up.” I say I’ll go and walk over to the three person group and retrieve one of the students. I feel the heat rising in my face. I know he is right. I am attempting to squirm out of what I am about to feel.

My partner goes on the table first and I treat her. We’ve connected before. Something pretty intense came up for her earlier in the day. I continue to facilitate from where she is in her own process. She is open, vulnerable and beautiful in her healing.

She finishes and we switch up. There is a standing assessment first. I take my pants off grudgingly. I am not taking my shirt off I decide. “What do you want me to treat?” she asks. “What stands out for you?” I reply. She immediately zones in on something and we start. As we progress, I hear Scott’s voice in the next row “no, you’re beautiful!” The woman who treated me in my dream is saying something about how she doesn’t like how her body looks. She was a body builder. She is now pregnant. In my opinion, she’s radiant. Scott’s right.

The words seep into me and my feet curl in. I feel the air on my legs and am acutely aware I am in my underwear. I don’t want anyone to see me. My legs follow, tighten and begin to bend up. I go back in time to being on the motel bed naked. The feeling of shame is rising up between my legs and into my pregnancy stretched belly. I feel a hand touch my abdomen and legs. It’s Scott. He is taking gravity out of my legs and they finish curling up. My abdomen quivers and the feeling of shame rises into my chest. My head goes back and I start to cry silently, my eyes squeezing shut, holding my breath, my chest rhythmically pulses with my crying. His hand goes to my throat and jaw. I start to cry with sound. Waves of it. I hear myself. I sound really upset. I let the feel of the sound go through me and it brings me in under the sobbing. I feel something caught in my throat and reflexively cough it up. It’s a gagging cough that reminds me of when I throw up and it goes up into my sinuses. Scott puts a blanket over my legs and I start to shake quietly. I let the waves of emotion flow through me. He is still dialoguing with the entire group as this is happening. The group is connected and everyone’s releases are impacting each other. I feel the translation of his words to the group and myself at the same time. When we are done I open my eyes. My partner leans her head down. “That was beautiful!” Sheis teary and tremulous. I feel her words. Normally a statement like that would embarrass me and I’d shut down. With the shame felt and released though, I quietly feel the truth in what beautiful really means.

I sit up and see two guys staring at me. I turn around to my partner and jokingly say “where are we?” I take a minute to reorient and then quickly transition out of treatment mode and return to instructor mode.

The goodbye’s and hugs are warm and heartfelt. I am excited that I have a list of therapists wanting to join a study group back home. The drive home is full of energy and once the energy has passed, I feel the need to sleep. Back at home I go back to mom mode, but only on the surface. The past few days are not buried. I do not need to hide them from my husband and kids. They get it.

The next morning, I have scheduled at treatment with Dave. Before I leave for treatment, I post this on MFR Chat:

“I wrote this down the morning of day 3 of the MFR I course I was instructing at in Dearborn:

Don’t assume that a woman who has been raped is a victim or a survivor. She is a renegade.

26 years ago today, I was abducted. I felt like a victim. Through MFR, and only MFR, I came home to who I am. John’s approach has revealed something more powerful than I could have imagined.

Wherever you are in your journey, know that, if you stick with it, you can reconnect with your true nature. It takes no special knowledge or tools. Just a continuous persistence to lean into the authentic healing approach John and his trained therapists provide.

We can all do this.”

Posting this gives me the energy and renegadeness I need for this treatment.

I arrive at my appointment. I tell Dave I feel stirred up; my hands and feet feel stiff. He pokes at the top of my shoulders and the pressure reinforces just how tense I am. I sit and he does some seated treatment as he tells me some stories. This relaxes me and I enter my body more fully. Next I lay on my back on the table. After some time, he does a cross finger release at the base of my throat. It’s where something was stuck yesterday at the seminar. The tears come. The sound comes. It is lighter than yesterday. As the treatment progresses, I start to move and unwind. I feel myself sitting, hunched over with my head hanging. I feel my head being pushed down into the table, like a dog forced by its owner to smell its own feces. I feel intense shame and wonder why this feels so familiar. I can’t place it. I let the feeling of heat rushing through my head and ears go through me. A quiet voice deep inside me says “enough”. A light energy floats up through my torso and I move away from this place and off the table.

“What do you need?” Dave asks. I think to myself that I need a kleenex and I pull one from the box and blow my nose. I need a pause. Then I close my eyes and go back into my unwinding. I feel my feet on the ground and sense the need to move. It feels like something in me is doing the walking and I follow. I walk to the treatment room door. It is the motel room door. I’ve been here before, but I feel more of it. My hands; the cool handle; my head; my chest. I am sort of afraid, but not as much as before. I am sad to leave this place that has become so familiar in my thoughts and emotions. But I want to move on. I cry out the sadness and open the door. I feel the rush of cold air. I feel completely exposed and naked. “Keep going,” Dave says. I walk tentatively through the breezeway between the treatment rooms and the house and come up to the door to outside. I pause. I think ahead “do I need to get out of here?” It doesn’t feel like it. “keep going,” Dave says. I continue through the breezeway and stop when I sense the door to the house. I am crying harder now as I lean my forehead against the door frame. This is my house. I know what I have to do and wrap both hands around the door knob. I turn it to the right slowly, feeling terror rush through me and push. It doesn’t open. I can’t get in! My legs are shaking now and I’m crying harder. “Only you can do this. I can’t do it for you,” Dave dialogues. The feeling of desperation passes and I try turning the knob the other way. I push with my body. At first the door doesn’t give. Then pop! Startled I lean back. Stunned, I absorb that the door is open. I step into the foyer and listen for my mom and dad, but there is no one home. No one is home for me. I sob harder and have to lean over with my hands on my knees. A wave of nausea hits and I cough and gag and crouch lower. It passes and I slowly straighten up. “What do you need,” Dave asks. I feel his gentle presence approach me. He moves in slowly and I very softly lean my head on his chest, curling my arms into myself like a child. He gently embraces me. I cry softly now and feel the warmth and comfort of his caring nature.

He represents my parents. They were so devastated by what happened and I remember my mom hugging me frantically and crying at the hospital. I was comforting them. Now I am getting what I need.

Dave and I walk back to the treatment room and he does some structural work on my pelvis. It’s stiff there after the unwinding. It’s a layer of restriction that’s been hiding the emotions. Now that it’s done it’s job, it can let go – and it does.

On the way home I feel energetic. Usually, part way home, I feel sleepy. Not this time. I decide to stop in at an MFR colleague’s office. She is hosting the first MFR study group that I’m in charge of running. As I talk and organize with her, I feel a new flow. Much less pulling back and hesitation in my actions. I feel more spontaneous. It feels fantastic.

I realize, in retrospect, that this door themed journey is just what I needed. The fear of literally and symbolically opening doors is not so extreme. Seeing a door handle on the inside of my door is not so frightening . . . it is starting to feel good . . . the Vietnam Vet was right. Yes, doors are opening for me and I’m not so afraid to see, feel and act on the opportunities.

N.B.: the next day I receive a package in the mail. It’s from Scott. He has sent me shorts with the words “Please help release me!” printed on the butt. I think it’s hilarious. Then I think, wow, how’d he know what was really happening inside me on Sunday – enough to send me shorts? I read the note and realize some larger arrangement is in motion . . .

“Patti, Thanks so much for doing such a good job assisting me at fascial pelvis in Ottawa! I hope you or your patients get a kick out of the shorts. Love, Scott”

He’d sent the shorts a week earlier at our last seminar together and they were just arriving now. He has his own story about why he has shorts in his treatment room. Our two stories met at just the right time.


* MFR Insight is a Facebook group open to those interested in the John Barnes Myofascial Release Approach. Patients, therapists and those interested in the approach can share information, insights, stories, ask questions, etc. Requests to join are subject to approval.