I ran frantically through the front doors. Short, coarse, curly hairs stood straight up on my head. Wispy, soft strands escaped my pony tail and flew along behind me. I was sweating and was certain I could smell myself. I was a perfect disheveled mess.
“Hi, L!” “Hi, L! How are you?” The young, attractive chiropractor and massage therapist greeted me.
I responded, panting and without slowing down, “When I was young, I thought the grossest thing in the world would be to touch an old, sweaty fat person. Now, I’m an old, sweaty fat person. I’m sorry, B! I’ll apologize now! I’m going to use the restroom first.” The last sentence was hollered from down the hall as I ran past them on my way to the bathroom.
I grabbed several paper towels and hurriedly washed the glistening remainder of my work day from my underarms, chest, and face. As I flung the door open, I saw B waiting for me. His outstretched arm directed me toward the treatment room, and he smiled and said he’d be right in. I nearly slammed the door behind me as I kicked my flip flops against the wall and threw my damp tank top across the room.
My heart was racing and I felt hyper, but the dark room and the sounds of soft music and trickling water soon brought my body rhythms back down to normal.
We’ve inconsistently battled my condition with myofascial release and craniosacral therapy as I could afford it, or as I could no longer take the pain and desperately sought relief, for nearly two years. I know B has grown weary of trying. He seemed to have given up. Other patients frequently experience a miracle cure the very first time. They laugh hysterically or cry intensely as their muscles release the pent up memories of pain and trauma.
I’ve felt nothing. I’ve experienced nothing. Sure it feels good. He can stop my headaches on a dime. But, there have been no great emotional out bursts. No long term relief of pain and no relief at all from limited mobility. On more than one occasion, B has calmly and nonchalantly stated that we have to be ready to let go emotionally and mentally before our bodies will let go physically.
Whatever. Yeah, I’m holding on to all of it because I’m emotionally attached to my trauma.
He began much like he always does. But, rather quickly he began to mix it up. He did things that felt unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable. I fought him. It hurts my neck to turn that way. “Don’t touch my throat!” I screamed inside my head. I tried to focus. Relax. Relax. Breathe. I reluctantly moved my hands from my chest and onto my stomach. Deep belly breaths, just like my Thursday client taught me. Breathe in, fill the belly. Blow it all out. Repeat.
I could feel his elbows, forearms, hands, and I think his own forehead. He was twisting me all up and lifting my upper body off the table. He was really going deep on the stretches, much deeper than ever before. And, then, suddenly he was back to gently swimming my head from side to side. Then, BOOM, back to the horrible deep pretzel stretches.
And, I was gone.
I knew I was leaving! I was a little frightened, but it was as though I couldn’t stop it. I was in absolute darkness. It seemed like I was just to the right of my body. I certainly wasn’t in it. I couldn’t feel B’s hands. I couldn’t feel my sunburn scraping on the rough sheet. I felt nothing. And, it was nice.
When I became aware of being in my body again, I saw flashes of yellow, blue, and green. And, then, the memories began to flood back. Things I’d forgotten. Things I didn’t want to remember. Beatings. Attempted drownings. Sometimes I saw movie images of the memories. Sometimes I felt I was there again, reliving it. Sometimes I just heard an audible reminder. It was too much. This time I chose to leave. I didn’t want to remember that stuff. So, I purposefully left my body.
Unfortunately, I was forced back, and the first thing I felt was fingers tapping their way up my right inner thigh in a mock itsy bitsy spider movement. I was scared! It was so real, I’d have sworn up and down that someone was touching me. I knew it wasn’t B. I could feel his hands doing those awful deep stretches on my taut neck and shoulders. Who the hell had their fingers down there? I opened my eyes and lifted my head to see. I moved quickly, so I could catch them. There was no one there.
I knew what it was. Great! Now, I was feeling the memories. As if seeing and hearing wasn’t enough. I wanted to leave again. This time it was as though something was stopping me. It was like I stepped my foot out the door, and someone shoved me back inside and slammed the door shut on me.
Instantly, I became acutely aware of my sunburn. It hurt worse. And, I feared B was going to choke me.
Like a warm blanket being pulled up from my feet over top me, a sense of comfort and contentment enveloped me. I felt a strange joy, a sort of nirvana if you will.
B stepped away from my head, lightly touched my forearm, and whispered for me to take my time getting up. He left the room, and I lay there in the darkness alone, unable to move.
As I walked the hallway back to the bright, sunny waiting room, everything seemed surreal, as though I wasn’t a part of my surroundings.
B asked how I was, just like he does after every therapy session. I thought about being dishonest. I was embarrassed to tell the truth. I mean, I sound crazy, don’t I?
Instead, I answered honestly, “That was one of the weirdest experiences of my whole life.”
He looked concerned. I began to tell him what I’ve just shared with you, and a small smile crept across his face. Soon, it was a large grin.
“We’ve had a break through!” he happily and proudly announced. “There is a term for what you’ve experienced. What you’re telling me is common.”
He then explained that he had to rapidly go back and forth between craniosacral work and myofascial release in an attempt to “trick” my nervous system and “reboot it” since nothing had been working previously. It apparently worked. He said to come back in two weeks. We’re going to push through some more.
I slept like a baby that night. In fact, I’ve slept well since and yet am tired all day long. I feel like I could sleep for a week.
And, my long term memory is back.
That evening I shocked my children when I remembered something from several years ago. The next morning I did it again. I feel like I’ve stepped out of a dark, heavy fog. That brain fog is lifting, and I remember details of important and unimportant events long forgotten.
My range of motion in my neck is still very, very limited. My shoulders draw up, and my jaws clench. But, I haven’t had a headache.
Over two decades ago the hospital sent me to a symposium to hear a lecture given by a chiropractor. I hadn’t been to an alternative medicine practitioner yet then, and she seemed odd to me. I sat there in my smart red linen skirt and white blouse, listening to the spastic little woman wearing forest green corduroy pants and large dangling dinosaur earrings. Her appearance and demeanor were distracting to me, but she seared into my mind, “Muscle has memory.”
My muscles have locked away a lifetime of abuse. They hold the memories that are too painful for my brain to process. But, those memories are toxic. They’ve created horrendous debilitating physical pain beyond the scar tissue and dislocated atlas that pinches my brain stem. They’ve pulled my cranium back out of place every time the chiropractor aligns it properly. They don’t want my body to function normally. They don’t want my nervous system to communicate as it should. It may communicate the memories of trauma to my poor overloaded brain. It’s just a means of self-preservation, but it is destroying me on a different level.
Not for long though. As B helps my body release 47 years of repressed trauma and unlocks my mind, I am remembering. I’m remembering painful events I chose to forget. Whether it is in my mind or in my muscles, some part of me remembers. And, it causes pain. The paradox is that I must remember in order to truly forget.