The searing pain in my left shin began this past July during the week that my biological father was released from a California prison.
“Stanley” had spent almost seven years behind bars after his second child molestation conviction. This time, his victim was my young cousin. The sentence was pathetic for the crimes committed and I made my disgust with his pending release known.
“I know it’s upsetting that he’s getting out, but Stanley is super old now. You know he is no threat to you or the kids, right?” My husband said, his arms outstretched toward me. I took a step closer to “Andrew” and pressed the top of my forehead to his chest.
“I know that. I’m not afraid for me or the kids. I’m afraid for all the other kids out there. It doesn’t matter that he’s 76. He won’t ever stop, not until he’s dead.” I said with a sigh.
Andrew wrapped his long arms around me in a vise of protection. “Want me to beat him up?” He mumbled into my hair.
“Okay.” I said, raising my head to meet his gaze. “You think you could get him to cough up some back-pay on child support for my mom while you’re at it?” I smiled.
“I think the statute of limitations is out on that one.” Andrew smirked.
“Are you calling me old?! Maybe you’re the one who needs a beating.” I pulled out of Andrew’s embrace, my fist landed playfully in his middle. The tears, on the other hand, came with more force.
* * * * *
When the shin pain began the next week, I attributed it to overzealous play in the pool with my two kids. Still, the injury was perplexing to two physical therapists as well as my chiropractor.
“Well, the MRI ruled out a stress fracture…” Dr. Morrison said while examining the computer screen. “Let’s try some ‘Graston’ as I think that will loosen up the muscle and reduce the pain.” The Graston technique is a popular and highly effective one used to knead out spasms and grit that accumulates in many sports related injuries. But as exhilarating as our pool game of “mermaid ninjas” was, I hardly considered it a water sport.
Nine month later my dear friend and colleague, Jennifer Manning-Plassnig, treated me to a session of process acupressure. This integrated therapy combines traditional acupressure with Zero Balancing techniques as well as incorporates psychological processing to enhance psycho-spiritual growth. When, during the session, the topic of Stanley arose, with it came the familiar heat spreading out over my left shin.
“My shin is suddenly on fire.” I said softly as Jenn walked around the massage table where I lay on my back. “It got injured last summer and I don’t often notice it but right now it’s just alive with heat.”
“Mmm…see if you can magnify that feeling and describe it further.” Jenn encouraged.
“It’s red and blazing, actually pretty tense and seized up. It’s bracing itself as if it’s on the look out.” I paused for a moment, “Oh! I see it now, it’s scanning the horizon like it’s afraid something might be coming.”
Jenn expertly held points along my shin, helping facilitate the integration of information, “Tell me more about what it’s doing, what is it looking out for?” She said.
Than, as the awareness hit me, I almost sat bolt upright, “Oh my God!” I exclaimed, “It’s Stanley! This shin thing first happened right as he was being released from jail. It’s literally on the look out for him now that he’s out! It doesn’t want to be caught off guard.” I am dumbfounded.
“Ahh, yes, it’s found a way to protect you, to be prepared.” Jenn affirmed.
“But there’s no way he’d try to contact me at this point. It’s not even realistic that he would show up or anything. At least I don’t think so. That’s more of a fear based fantasy. And my shin? What an odd place for this to live.” I said.
“Well, when you deny your feelings of concern, they find another way to get your attention.” I could feel Jenn’s loving gaze behind my closed eyes.
“Right.” I chucked knowingly.
Jenn continued, “And shins are activated when you get ready to run.”
I gasped in reply to her insight.
Jenn and I spent the next hour processing both energetically and verbally the sensations and emotions manifested as shin pain. The work was deep and fascinating revealing more and more layers of the puzzle.
When we are done, I feel calm and comforted. As the heat of the energy work continues to seep in, warmth expands pleasantly throughout my body; a gift of a job well done.
Of course there are times when shin pain is simply the result of jumping down a bunch of stairs or running to too hard on pavement. Still, through the work I have done both personally and in my practice, there is no denying the power of our body’s ability to manifest unprocessed emotions in physical ways. The hope is, the more practiced we become at honoring all our feelings (even those most challenging to us), the less loudly our body may need to also speak through tension, pain or illness.
May we have the courage to listen.