Friday, October 4, 2013

Recognizing Scars.

I went to get a massage from a rather New Age, Eastern spirituality-type lady. She's very nice. I went to her when I needed help fixing my running stride early last spring. I figured if she was a miracle worker who could fix the way I run, maybe she could take the permanent crick out of my neck and shoulders and make me look less like Quasimodo.

I remember when I went to the running sessions with her, it didn't seem like it was working while I was there. I'm not going to lie. There was a lot of New Age mumbo jumbo. And despite the fact that I am a Buddhist, I always have one foot in the eastern spirituality stuff and one foot way the eff out.

But I'll be damned. It worked. I haven't had any foot or hip pain since I went.

She done fixed me, people.

My neck and shoulder have been completely jacked for about a month. It's a chronic problem and I have a wonderful Polish massage therapist who manhandles me into an endorphin-riddled pulp once a week. I love her.

But she hasn't been enough. Even her Eastern European hands couldn't work out the knot in my shoulder. I began to suspect that the knot was deeper down inside me.

The running guru was the lady to see, I was sure of it. I knew she did stretching exercises for athletes and massage for the chronically damaged. Plus, I had the good luck of strange convergence when a friend suggested the guru masseuse to me, not knowing that this same woman had already cured my running stride. I called the guru right up and I made an appointment. I dragged my weary body with shoulders hunched up over my ears and jaw clenched as tight as a steal trap and I told this stranger that I hadn't worked out in a month.

She recognized me immediately, which surprised me, since I had drastically changed the color of my hair. I used to be blonde and now I am a very dark brunette.

"You're the Buddhist, right?"

"Yes," I said, twitching and tense, the most un-stereotypically Buddhist Buddhist you ever did see. Which makes me a perfect Buddhist of course. God, I'm so freaking zen. Your mind just exploded. Admit it.

All kidding aside, the massaging-running-stretching guru laid her hands on me and said I was tense. She felt my back muscles which were tight as a drum. I was ready to pound out a rousing rendition of Yankee Doodle Dandy and march through town. As she tried to work out the knots, she asked me questions. Asked me why I hadn't worked out in a month. Asked me why I was going to grad school. Asked me what the book I'm writing was about.

"I'm going to grad school and I'm writing a book so my life can be less stressful. Later on, of course. It's a long-term plan, you see. A career change, if you will. But right now...right now it's a bit much."

The guru seemed to understand. She asked me what I do to relax. I admitted that I'm not doing as much to relax these days. My usual sources of relaxation include running, lifting weights, having sex, meditating, going to temple, etc. You know, the usual. Oh, and shopping. I've stopped buying clothes in order to pay for grad school.


(Just kidding.)

"What's your book about?" she asked.

"My childhood," I said, feeling like a tool as I always do whenever someone asks me that question.

"Let me guess. You didn't have a perfect childhood?"

"No, I didn't," I laughed. "But I have a dark sense of humor! Besides, a bad childhood is a gift to a writer, right?"

She smiled and mentioned a woman who wrote a book about her bad childhood and how it was a gift to her spirituality. I totally get that.

Then she had me roll over from my stomach to my back and she pulled one of my arms out from under the sheet. The Polish massage therapist frequently works on my arms and shoulders in order to help me with the pain that leads all the way up to my neck. It's all connected, you see.

"What's this?" the guru said, immediately touching the scars on my wrists.

"You're the first person to ever ask me that question directly." I was surprised by how forthright she was. "Those are a part of that bad childhood I mentioned earlier."

"Self-inflicted?" she asked, without a trace of judgment. Just a statement of fact.


And it was so easy. So natural. So not a big deal. It's like we were talking about the weather or about our favorite books. We were just talking about a part of me, just like the writing, the studying, and the fact that I write advertising copy for a living.

"I'm actually writing that chapter right now," I added.

"Ah, see. It's no coincidence," she said and touched the scars again. "That's why you're here. Scars can hold a lot of power. Do you mind if I try something?"

"Sure, I'm game," I said, having no idea whether I was really game or not.

She applied some sort of metal Chinese star-looking tool and started scraping it over my scars.

"Sometimes all your energy gets caught up in this scar tissue," she said. "It's powerful. It can effect your entire body."

She ran the metal scraper, ninja death star tool, over my right forearm and then over my left arm.

"The scars are different on this arm. You got creative."

I laughed in reply.

"I have a dark sense of humor too," she said.

It's all new age mumbo jumbo, of course. These scars are almost 30 years old. I've dealt with them in therapy. I've dealt with them over the course of my life and they really don't mean much anymore. They are self-inflicted, yes. They once acted as catharsis for me, when I was in so much psychic pain that I had no other form of release. They are old and dead, or at least I thought they were.

When my session was over, I sat up, thinking I would still have the knot in my shoulder.

I did not.

It was gone.

And then I noticed my hands were trembling. In fact, my hands trembled the whole way home.
The pain in my neck is gone. My shoulder blade is loose. I can move in every direction. I don't know how she did it. I really don't. She didn't man handle me like the Polish lady. I don't know what she did. But the pain is gone.

It's kind of like the manuscript. Writing it all down. Recognizing the scars. It's very healing.

Turns out it's all connected after all.


  1. Mandy my goodness your posts get more and more fascinating. I love the introspection as always. I always feel so enlightened after reading your posts. For serious.

  2. I need this guru in my life.

  3. I am so looking forward to your book. And I am so happy that you are healing in the process of writing.

  4. You and my sister are emotional twins. Is it any wonder? Hugs and love. (My shoulders feel like they are carrying the world...I could use a good massage. Or guru.)

  5. Really beautifully said, and just, wow.

  6. I love this sh*t. I'm so glad you wrote this post. It makes me wonder how much better off we all would be if we met with energetic healers on a regular basis. I've only done a couple sessions with people like this but it kind of blew my mind. I'm glad your knots are feeling better. And your scars, too.

  7. That's absolutely fantastic. Good for you.

  8. Wow! That's about all I can say. Glad it helped.

  9. There is so much trapped inside us, Mandy. Anyway, this book by John Sarno is one I loved. I know it's in most libraries, but there's good lots of good info about trapped pain:

    1. Interesting. I had no idea it was a whole section of the bookstore!

  10. Just being asked, with no pity, no judgement, it helps. I get that.

  11. Wow, I love this. And at the end I felt my shoulders relax. I have no external scars, but this makes me know I need to look at the internal ones. And maybe rub them a little.

  12. Well, I'm bawling. And it's very helpful. Thanks again, Mindy. You do it all, you have it all, and you are it all. What an awesome human being you are.

    1. I don't know if I'm awesome but I am really glad to hear it's helpful. Thanks for telling me so. I sometimes wonder if I'm doing the right thing by coming out of the closet with all of this. ;-)

    2. My opinion isn't worth much, but here it is: I have a family with some big skeletons. They don't come out of the closet, or if they do they're in frustratingly incomprehensible fragments. In other words, most of us are batshit crazy, remain batshit crazy, and no one knows why. It's a vicious cycle of insanity.

      But some day I feel quite sure that your children will thank you for you openness and honesty. It means a lot to understand why people are the way they are and to appreciate what they lived through, especially when it's those you love the most. And their opinion is the one that will always mean the most to you.

      That being said, I also have to be honest: I'm selfishly dying to read your book! Or more simply, you help a lot of people. Just make sure all this helps yourself first. If it does, then I say let it go! ;)

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  17. I haven't read the other comments. This was probably already said and I'm late and an idiot for not getting here sooner. I just wonder if writing the chapter about the scars has brought up psychic scars that tensed your muscles and gave you the knot in the first place. If you said that already and I somehow missed it then I'm even more tired than I thought, and I know I'm tired. This is just what was on the top of my head, thinking your pain was from writing that chapter and feeling old demons rising up and tensing your neck and shoulders and all that.

    On the writing front, I am clearly a terrible writer. I never seem to have time to write. In the past week I've added a page of notes to my outline. It's all for one chapter. That's it. That's how much I've done. Meanwhile, you mentioned a writing coach and so I looked for one on the internet, a Memphis writing coach. I found none. That didn't surprise me. This isn't exactly the type of town for writers. If I'd needed a stripper, or an escort or a street hooker or drug dealer I could have found that no problem. But no writing coach. So anyway, instead of working more on my book I'm reading your blog and rambling in your comments. If I could only write a book filled with nothing but my pointless rambling I'd be good.

    1. I don't think you need to find a writing coach in your own town. You can work with one online. It's pretty easy to exchange manuscripts via email or dropbox and/or chat on the phone or via email to discuss. Don't give up!

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  20. Well, this has been one interesting and touching article. For someone who writes in such a way that makes people laugh, it is still a very personal post with your traditional touch. Love it

  21. "Sometimes all your energy gets caught up in this scar tissue," she said. "It's powerful. It can effect your entire body."

    brought me to tears.

    i hope you don't think this is spooky...have been pondering/struggling with/ignoring the need to write. trapped pain. and thought, i bet mandy would have something to say about this.

    and there you are.

  22. I love your blog. I wish you wrote more.

    1. Okay, you totally motivated me! I wrote twice this week!


  23. I love your blog too. I'm glad I found you again.