Saturday, May 13, 2017
Celebrating 10 Years of Healing: On Hope, Faith and Momentum
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":
I didn’t know what needed healing or how that healing would happen. I only knew that I needed time and space away from the stress of getting up at 5:30 every morning, commuting into Boston, taking care of veterans and their families as well as the people on my team, and my own family members. I hold myself responsible for my inability to set limits. I feel tremendous compassion for myself that I was like a hamster in a wheel and had no idea how to get off of it within the VA system. I know many of my colleagues resented me for how much work I did do. I was held up as the standard for social workers when it came to ‘my numbers’ and documentation. There is the middle way of being able to find balance and self care while providing outstanding care to veterans and their families but I was damned if I knew how to get there at that time.
When I walked out of the VA on 5/25/2007, I did so on hope and a prayer. I had no idea what the future held for me. I had visualized, written poetry, kept a journal and imagined a wonderful life for myself but there was a big gap between where I was and where I wanted to go. I was in a leg brace, using a cane, a wrist splint. I needed to do chin tucks and dry swallows to avoid choking and aspirating food into my lungs when I ate. I experienced chronic pain and fatigue although was feeling much better than I had in December of 2006 when I could barely walk up and down the stairs in my house and experienced severe depression and anxiety. I would come to learn that the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome was a result of my body's inability to heal after contracting paralytic polio due to unrelenting child abuse and neglect and the trauma itself being trapped in my body!
I discovered the healing and transformational power of running in my life.
After running the 2009 Boston Marathon I had a relapse of symptoms. My cervical spine doctor, my master magician as I came to call Dr. El-Abd was so supportive helping me to heal my beaten up body after putting it through the rigors of marathon training without any base of athleticism. He referred me to a wonderful physical therapist who got me back on the roads by the summer of 2010.
And so it went - triumphs followed by trials and tribulations.
It was incredibly frustrating and quite discouraging to go through setback after setback. I had to dig deep especially when I was encountering body workers whose methods were supposed to help me heal but only exacerbated my symptoms. I was tested and veered off of my healing path in the wake of my nephew's suicide in March of 2011.
Yet still I persevered and battled on wondering how would I ever reclaim my life and run and live my life unencumbered and free?
The Boston Marathon bombings served as a wake up call.
And then the miracle happened!
I had a "chance" meeting in the most unusual of circumstances...Dr. Ryan J. Means - a chiropractor dedicated to releasing the body's natural capacity to heal through chiropractic care and the power of intention. He was so excited for the opportunity to work with me knowing where I'd been, how much I had accomplished but knowing I needed someone to go the distance with me. He told me about "You Are the Placebo" by Dr. Joe Dispenza and we got to work!
A month later, as I realized that the massage therapist I was working with at the time was causing more harm than healing, I put out the call to the Universe for a new massage therapist.
From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":
As he finished with a clearing of the energy, he placed his left hand on my right shoulder while he turned his body toward the door. He turned his head and gently looked down at me, “Okay Mary…take your time getting up. I left a hot towel for you if you’d like to use it….Please don’t rush. Take your time. Open the door a crack when you’re dressed.”
“How are you feeling?” Jeffrey asked me as he handed me a cold bottle of water as a wine steward presents a fine bottle of wine at the finest restaurant.
“Amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.”
Jeffrey warmly smiled.
“I usually tremble – I have head tremors and body tremors but I was so still and felt so at ease with you.”
“I felt your stillness,” Jeffrey replied.
“I want you to run unencumbered,” Jeffrey said with his piercing blue eyes intently looking into mine. At the time I didn’t quite take in the enormity of what he had just said. He was setting an intention for our work together that I had set early on with my personal trainer and then wrote about in my poetry for the past several years.
“I’d like to work with you,” I said knowing that my life was about to dramatically change for the better.
I held onto hope as I fervently prayed and feverishly wrote poetry until I could get positive momentum on my journey to heal the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. Somehow, somewhere deep inside of me I kept the faith and I didn't stop in my quest to create a better life for myself. I've had no setbacks or injuries in these past two years since partnering with Jeffrey. Weekly muscular therapy sessions with him coupled with my determination to maintain positive momentum with meditation, keeping a journal and a five day a week workout regimen holds me in great stead in my health and wellness journey. I finally have the momentum I was thirsting and yearning for when I first set out on this odyssey ten years ago!
In my next blog, I'll be celebrating 10 years of healing reflecting on success and celebrating lifestyle changes!
To going the distance with strength and courage!
Be sure to visit my website by following this link.
My books are available on Amazon.
Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life
Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:
And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):
Mary McManus, MSW knew challenges since she was five years old beginning with contracting polio followed by enduring nine years of violence at the hands of family members. Those early challenges prepared her for taking on the challenge of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December 2006 when she was at the height of her award winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Asking for Divine Guidance as she had throughout her trials and tribulations, she discovered the gift of poetry in her soul. Her first poem, “Running the Race,” foreshadowed her 2009 Boston Marathon run. “Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance,” chronicles Mary’s journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, as a runner and a woman who refused to quit. Eight years after her diagnosis, she was finally led to two healers, a chiropractor and a muscular therapist, who helped her reclaim her life and go the distance, a woman transformed who embodies the power of endurance.