A canoe ride on Kalum Lake with the family, including Aunt Cathy holding my youngest brother Donny, then me, followed by my five brothers with Dad bringing up the rear. Mom was taking the photograph that is on this month’s front cover. We weren’t wearing life jackets in the photo for they were scarce and expensive when I was a kid. Our canoe was made in the States, with a guarantee not to capsize: it was designed for heavy loads and up to seven people. I can remember my Dad returning from a hunting trip once with only an inch or two of the bow above the water … he had it loaded with two moose. It was painted bright yellow to match the school bus that was used to move my family from the United States to Rosswood, BC. The letters CTDPAPBMD painted at the front of the canoe stood for the first letter of each family member’s name starting with C for Clarence (Dad), T for Tess ( Mom), and then us children in order of our ages David, Phillip, Angèle, etc.
I don’t remember many outings in the canoe. The little ones couldn’t keep still or quiet and Grandad complained that we made such a racket we scared all the fish away. The ole’ fishing hole was the best place to take the family—on foot. There the bites were guaranteed, and the young’uns could run around.
After we moved to Rosswood, there was so much work to be done we seldom took the time to do family fun things. Usually Dad, Grandad and the older boys went hunting or firewood cutting. Mom and I and one of the younger brothers usually went to town to do the shopping. I loved it when the boys all left and it was just Mom and me to cook and wash dishes for … that seemed like a holiday to me.
My Dad was a good guy in many ways, a genuine family man who wanted nine kids. He loved cooking, doing the laundry and even liked changing the baby’s diapers. He was a good provider for we always had quality food on the table and a roof over our heads. My parents seemed to like to work long hours, rarely thinking of themselves. They never drank or smoked and seldom cussed but Dad did have one bad habit… he liked to kick. Most of the time it was one of the dogs, but once in a while it was one of us kids. He seldom repeated his orders about what needed doing. Reminders usually came as a boot in the butt. Sometimes he did it just for the fun of it, and then it really hurt.
Some years ago I told the story of one of my processings … a recall incident that was one of the first major energy shifts for me as I started on my journey towards understanding myself. It was with Dr. Michael Greenwood of the Victoria Pain Centre. He used Acupuncture and deep breathing to help bring up this incident, one of being one and half or two years old and seeing my Dad sleeping on the couch. I could feel my mouth drool as I leaned over and bit Dad in the knee, thinking, “If I bite off his knee he will never kick again.” Before this session I didn’t remember him kicking.
My last session with Ken Martin and Integrative Body Psychology released another memory. For those of you who have never had a session where memories are brought up in the emotional body and released through the physical body, here is a shortened version of what it is like.
I am lying on the table with a warm blanket and pillow, and Ken asks me to check into my body and describe how I am feeling. I do some deep cleansing breaths, building the level of charge in my body, then I describe the swirling energy patterns that I am noticing in the moment. This will continue until I say something of interest to Ken or until he notices a change in my breathing. If that happens, he says, “What thought just crossed through your mind?” As I say the thought, my body will react if it is something that it wants to process, and I never know what that will be till the moment arrives.
This time, my leg started hurting just below the bum cheek. It had been aching for the past two weeks and I kept rubbing it wondering what was shifting to cause this awareness. He asked what my sore spot felt like. I said, “A boot in the butt.” He then asked what my body wanted to do. I said, “Scream! It hurts.” He said, “Go ahead and do it,” so I screamed out my frustration through gritted teeth, growling and biting. Ken then said, “What do you want to say to him?” Choking back my tears, I tell him I don’t want to be hurt. He said, “Tell your Dad that.” I laugh and say, ” I already asked him not to and it didn’t do any good. He’s too big.” I added that I have been watching Mom who always argues, and I’ve decided that her way doesn’t work, so I am not going to fight him. I’ll find another way. By the age of four, I have made a decision not to cry and to do what Dad tells me to the first time and I will avoid him whenever possible.
Ken then clarified that I had not felt supported or loved whenever I said “no,” so I never got a chance to practice this skill as a child. He then brought in my bigger self, my Angel self, and asked me to look into my Dad’s eyes. I looked and said, “There is only emptiness.” “Look deeper,” he said. I stared deep into his eyes, and as I did my Dad’s handwriting appeared in my mind and I said, “He was born a sensitive, just like me,” and the tears flowed for I knew how deeply hurt he must have been as a child to act this way as an adult. I know we repeat what was done to us so that we can look at our patterns and change or heal them. For several minutes I held my Dad in my loving big angel wings, soothing his pain of not being held or listened to.
Then I went back into my child-self state as I drew my legs to my chest and started rubbing the sore spot. Ken asked “What is happening?” I said, “My leg is burning.” He said, “What does it want to do?” I said, “Kick.” He pulled off the blanket and said, “Go for it: it is a good way to release the stuck energy.” I kicked for about five minutes then my awareness shifted to another sore spot in my groin, a spot that when pressed felt like my funny bone was getting hit. I shrieked, laughed and cried tears for about five minutes, and then the sensation was gone and I was back to reality, exhausted but feeling lighter.
Ken and I talked about setting boundaries, and he gave me some visualizations to practice to help change my energy patterns. He said, “By not being given the choice of saying “no” as a child your boundaries were dishonoured by your father, and your body set up a contraction in your pelvis, stifling the flow of energy throughout your body. It is as if your body is still waiting for another boot in the butt.”
Learning to reprogram this automated response will take time but with a man like Gerry it will be fun practising. I know whatever I decide to do is just fine; with him, it is going through the awkward stage of feeling the swirling in my stomach that makes me hesitate.
Marcel brought up an interesting point. She noticed that I always got angry whenever I had a persistent telephone solicitor. I couldn’t say “no” in a normal voice.” It has taken me time to get comfortable saying “no,” and to figure out my bodily reactions and to ask myself if this is what I really want. I still have to remind myself to slow down and that I won’t get booted in the butt if I don’t answer or do something right away, and my armpits no longer sweat when I say “no.”
As a child I did not have the skills to understand my Dad’s pain and did not want to feel my own, so I rationalized why my Dad would hurt me. Going into my head helped dull the pain and the body stored it away, saving it for a time when I would be big and strong enough to let it surface. For the past eight months Ken has been helping me get in touch with parts of myself that I didn’t know existed, childhood survival patterns that are no longer needed, that are in fact causing me pain for ignoring them. I have learned that pain is always caused by contraction, the tightening of thoughts or muscles, physically or emotionally. The two are interconnected. Watching myself make decisions as a child is awesome and is helping my inner child mature. So too is trusting myself and learning to set clear boundaries … my chosen journey for this year.