I didn’t know what to expect when my coach Tom Fleming told me to go see someone named Marcus—it was at the end of 1990. But I was desperate to get my left hamstring to work properly again. As of then I’d had my longest mileage for a year ever—for the year already by the end of November. I didn’t feel good. Much was wrong with my health. Things I never spoke of till decades later—Or never.
Back then, I worked for a defense contracting company in finance. My husband had just begun to go back to school full time that year, so we pinched pennies. Tom knew that. Marcus gave us runners on Tom’s team a discount for services.
Tom had a name for Marcus. He’d eventually refer to Marcus as the Voodoo Man—as Marcus was aptly named. The experiences that I could afford to have with such a character as Marcus were tremendous. And well-worth the pain he inflicted when I wouldn’t let go. Follow me.
It seems anything uncomfortable—we regard as pain or as a form of pain. However, if we could change our perspective and see the thing we consider painful as a changing of the guard—or a reconfiguration of our psyche or perhaps our ego—then we could reason with the disruption we considered painful.
Now Marcus didn’t tell me this. Yet, I was open to the mind-altering experience of diving into my own pain without medication. I believe there is more to our athletic and non-athletic pains than we’ve been coerced to understand. Too, we’ve gladly accepted the non-work of society’s acceptance of getting through pain. As if to say, ‘We are not responsible for addressing our pain in a mindful sense’. Nor taking accountability for our uncomfortable pain’s existence.
However, I’m not addressing pain brought on by pains occurring in battle or victimizations of war—where burn victims may need outside allopathic pain relief. Too, anything that’s in that realm is clearly another story. What I’m addressing here are headaches, strains, sprains, things that we consider every day or are reminded of by advertisements, by our parents or elders in our community about pain.
Aging—people are taught that we are supposed to not suffer from the processes of aging. Nor the fear of dying. We are taught that we need consoling. And that because of age, we are wiser. Those are the coercions we are convinced to embrace. We name those coercions, retirement along with other inferences. Which is a complete and utter lie. Follow me. Being wiser does not necessarily come with age. I’ve met dying sixteen-year-olds, who had the wisdom of someone four times their age. I’ve met four-year-old AIDS patients who’d begin to yell, “No More!” It’s not that they knew best, although they might. It’s what they feel instinctively about their treatment. I’ve heard people in their sixties say it with the same inference, yet they were allowed to draw the line for themselves. But that wisdom is few and far between.
Our everyday pains. Or the pains we appear to arrive at over time. We accuse or the medical fields, allopathic and alternative medicines alike have accused us of a multitude of sins due to our activities, sometimes the lack thereof. Usually, it is pointed out that it is the activity and or our jobs over time that cause us pain. We are not taught by the medical field that we are to exist with the lifelong phrase of, “Chop wood. Carry water”.
“Chop wood. Carry water.” Is used in a philosophical manner in Buddhism. It means many things. It’s a principle of sorts. Keeping it in simplified context—it reaches to always having to work at things. Always having some type of process of working or work. Because then—what will we exist as, if we don’t accept some type of responsibility throughout our lives in human form? As well, productivity is just as important as just being still—as rest.
Going back to Marcus, yes he fixed my left hamstring in one shot that day. He kept saying, “Be here now.” That and along with small words is all he’d ever say in a one-hour session. Even before each session, He would keep it short. You’d only say a few words—He’d read your mind. Follow me. Marcus was in tune with each person during that session. He did not overload himself as most full-time therapists could be compelled to do to pay the bills. Yet, he warned me, as my life had become upended, and I was forced to make a career decision. I had opted to go into the field he was in. He warned me of burnout. He knew my soul.
One day about 1992 around late November, early December I lay on his table. At this point, I was still running, yet pained and losing certain abilities in my right leg. My face, my head, my jaw, my neck, my right leg and back all still hurt—never mind the flashbacks that were occurring every day. I forged ahead to not allow our dreams to completely shatter. Sitting was painful. However later, in the week of Christmas my office was close—I ran 200 miles in that week over the course I’d been abducted on. I did it to conquer any doubt on getting through this. Painful, yes. Cursing, yes—but it was my defiance—and it was to push back at the world in which we lived.
I had nerve damage, unknown to me through multiple misdiagnoses I had fractures in my back from the crime committed on me. I also was still working full-time at my job at the defense contracting company—yet I was in school at night as I apprenticed part-time as a bodyworker and massage therapist at a gym. My marriage was good. But as a couple my husband and I were thrown into a hellish nightmare of dealing with a criminal case against my abductor and rapist from the 1991 crime committed on me. We both knew I should’ve been dead. Some in law enforcement told me that as well over that past year when they knew about the case. Too, I had many people including lawyers who were trying to tell me it wasn’t worth testifying. That’s a story in itself.
So here I was on Marcus’ table at the end of 1992 for the sixth session in two years. In the middle of the session, Marcus paused for a second and said, “Goober”. I nearly fell off the table. How the hell did he know I was thinking of my dog who died in 1989? And he never knew I had a dog. Much less my dog’s name. I mean for crying out loud, we never talked. Not real talk. It was, “… my right leg is weak…” And he’d respond, “Okay then.” Then I’d lay down, be in the moment and drift off occasionally. Marcus would remind me, “Be here now.” I would comply. There were times I’d curse from pain as he worked but I’d remain still. I wouldn’t pull away. I knew not to. He accepted my once in a while curse word. And he continued working, not missing a beat.---Jody-Lynn Reicher