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The Bonesetter's Tanda

I was tossing the old, “gosh, what if there really is a reason to who comes into our lives and how they do it” notion around. After so many years of living with the opposite ideology, maybe this suit would have a fresh new fit. I decided to test drive it.

Why, for instance, had Dr. Eric come into my life? I lay on the table, cudgelling my brain. Nope, couldn't figure it out. I tried again during our second session. Why? Why? No Idea. I tried during our third session. No clue, and the harder I tried to understand, the farther away flew understanding.

Try this on.

I had been in constant worsening pain for months. I had gradually come to live my life around my pain, tailoring it to fit the pain's needs. I didn't even remember what it was like not to have that unremitting mental drain. Dr. Eric was a massage teacher I trusted, but he was also a chiropractor. I had been brought up to believe that all chiropractors are the scourge of Satan, but what if they were just a different modality of healing, suitable for some things and not others, capable of curing and capable of harming, just like doctors. I certainly preferred his holistic approach to treating people, and I liked his idea that the person heals themselves and he just sorts out a few kinks in the system that are getting in the way of the person doing their job. That's how I've always perceived healing. So when he taught a mechanics review, I said, “so, Dr. Eric, I have sciatica. It's a pain in the butt.” “Call my office.”

I did, and as I was on the phone an appointment miraculously opened up for the next day, as opposed to the usual wait of several weeks. “You are obviously a very powerful person,” he said when he saw me. “Just lucky,” I said. “I stick with my initial diagnosis,” he said. He warned me that this would be a process.

One appointment. And no pain for the rest of the day. I cried from the guilty pleasure of sitting on a chair without pain. I kept waiting for the pain to come, and it didn't. Who was I, without my pain? I couldn't wait to find out. This was going to be fun.

It came back the next day though, and I was angry. He had taken away my defences. He had given me a taste of what it was like to live without pain and when the pain came back I felt it much more acutely because I'd been given a break from it. I thought he was mean.

The second appointment. And no more pain, for good. It just left. Like a fever breaking, or a banshee flying away.

The third appointment, just to be sure. No more pain. I plan to bring apples for the teacher.

While I was lying there on the table, wondering what dance lesson I could possibly be learning from this experience, I also kept wondering, “why'd it have to be my butt? Why couldn't I be here for a frozen shoulder or a tricky knee?” The sciatic nerve being where it is, it wasn't even a socially acceptable part of my butt that demanded thorough hands-on attention. It was nerve-wracking (or nerve-healing), forcing myself to reveal my weakness and vulnerability to someone who was there to touch a part of me I don't generally let people touch, learning to allow, learning to let go. Some lessons are so literal—I was hanging on to my coccyx as hard as I could, despite knowing how frustrating it is when people I'm trying to massage hang on to their body parts instead of letting me do it. “Just let go,” he said. I tried. It was scary. “Yeah, it's a learning process,” he said, kindly and nonjudgmentally.

Heavenly gumballs, I thought, as I left the office, this has been an entirely benign experience. No damage. No injury. All this guy did was good. No other shoe dropping, no yanking the rug out from under me, no selling me out to the Russians. All he did was help me help myself. I trusted him, and he didn't let me down; in fact, he rewarded this trust many times over.

Sometimes we have to let people touch what's private in order to let go of the pain that defined what was and allow in the freedom of what is.

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