Jennifer Jade Merrihue
Updated: Feb 19, 2022
I walk onto your porch and I already feel off
I’ve heard you are intense
I’ve heard you are hard medicine
I’m wary and tired from my travels...and open
Still salted in jet lag
But I like working on myself
I wanted this coming to Bali
“Show me what I need to see” the philosopher in me whispers
This whole trip is centered on practicing trust
You all have seen me grow
Seen me lean into pain so I know I can handle it
But I didn’t think about you very much, sir
I took for granted that you are a healer
I didn’t ask if I was ready for your type of medicine
Hell I didn’t even ask you what your medicine was
I just coasted on the praise of others, collecting faith in you like little shells
This is my industry, my life, I’m rarely surprised anymore, just delighted and inspired
But with the reputation that follows you like trails of bells and flowers, I don’t skip a beat to trust that you’ll be just what I need.
You have a yellow canary in a cage.
The same exact bird my mother accidentally killed when I was a kid. It had a million fleas leeching off of its frail tiny little body. She put flea medicine on its yellow coat trying to save it. I found its dead corps and my mother's pain. Smiling to make her feel better though my organs churned with the flavor of death inside of me
You know about death.
You made me watch it right before our session
I sit on the floor cross-legged
Open and waiting for your guidance
You pull on your cigarette, smile a giant smile, with beady white teeth
Silver drips off your ears and fingers, wraps around your neck. Jeweled man. Smoke curls around your silver eyes and dances around your chest
You have 4 bird cages dangling from this porch we sit under. You stand and bring the cages to the floor one by one
A tiny pot of live crickets exploding inside of it now rests on your lap
You pick at them, grab a fat one between your fingers and offer it to a bird. The grasshopper hysterically twitches to escape you and the giant bird. One by one you choose who is next to death. Commenting on the way they are dying
You describe in detail how the birds crush the heads. And laugh because this one is not dying as it should
See how it twitches? You say
Can’t you notice how I die in this moment? Flavor of death churns in my stomach
I watch your 2 black puppies test you, you use your feet to push their faces into each other so they’ll fight. One growls and snaps
“Sometimes I feel like a slave driver” you joke, a smile splitting your face
I’m so tired
I heard you give massages, the type that changes lives. But I don’t slow down and ask myself if I trust you with my body
It’s my friend I actually trust. The one whose life you changed last week
I want some of that
But I don’t ask why I am here. For this hard medicine
After the 4rth bird gets fed it’s cricket
You lead me into our room
Scene of the crime, you say
I lay naked on your table
You look at the spider bites on my chest and neck and suggest they are bed bugs
My tummy churns
You dig into my flesh with your elbow
I repeat after you, phrases
You ask me what I feel, you tell me there’s no wrong answer
Everything I respond, you say is wrong
You criticize my breathing
Tell me you wish you could record it so I can see how terrible it is. Laugh
You mimic me
Your intensity fills my veins
I’m naked on your table
You’re digging into my scars, ripping through my flesh and scar tissue. You are upset with my body. With how I tense in response to you
You’re not pleased with my breathing
I can feel your frustration seep into me
You are agitated
I can’t breathe
I’m doing my best to follow your instructions
You say I’m not doing it right, displeased
I try and imitate your breathing
Still wrong. At this point, I’m imitating not to get oxygen but to alleviate the pressure of you
Maybe if I do it right you’ll ease up and connect with me
As I fall deeper into breathwork, I lose access to words. High on-air and intensity
I need reassurance, I need you to slow down, I’ve sweat through the sheets. I’m panicking
Why can’t I tell you STOP
Slow the fuxk down and tell me what you want from me exactly
Why are you acting like I should know?
More. strict. criticism
You crouch down to me, eyes leveling with mine on the massage table, “the best and only thing you should do for people is hold them accountable to what they want” you say
All I want is some softness
I want this to end
I can feel my mind tripping out, trying to save me by dragging me out of my body somewhere, anywhere, else. Tears are streaming down my face. Cloaking my rose flushed swollen cheeks in a salty casket, glittering. I’m sure you think it’s all part of the process. But inside my tummy churns, I am dying
I can’t say stop even though I can’t wait for it to stop
My mind drags me anywhere else...
“I’m starving”, she says
“We need a cigarette” she pleads, I haven’t wanted one of those in forever
My body pleads for this to stop
You are unknowingly using breathwork in your practice
It becomes clear to me you’ve never trained in it as you pry my twisted fingers open. My hands are curled into claws. Tetni. We were taught never to pry any bones open. It could cause injury
You’re not safe, my mind urges
But I’m in an altered state. High off of breathing intensely for over two hours now while you dig your fingers into the scars that line my body in its history
This pain is the only way through, you say with a tone crushingly frustrated
Tears stream down my cheek like waterfalls. Not because of my past pain, not because of any release, but because this experience hurts me
My hands ache and my bones burn
You push me, insist if I just breathe better I’ll be out of pain. But I can’t breathe, I want I scream
I want to tell you to stop as you pry my hands open. But it’s been 3 hours now and into the 4th. Deep and savage. No mercy
Why am I letting this happen?
You touch parts of me I’ve never let another human touch. Let alone a man. You lean into My womb. Find the pain inside of me and direct your intensity there. The pain is shattering.
I tell you about the deaths in my history
You judge me and clench my womb area in your hand. Deep and painful. Like you’re manipulating a stress ball
I crumble inside
My body weak from breathwork, cloaked in sweat, tears, pain, feels your judgment layering on me like cement
Your hands move up to my ribs, fingers prying between them like an instrument you’re trying to break
You find the scar tissue. You carve me with your fingers. I light on fire. You ask me to open my eyes. I think you’re saying something reassuring. But I don’t know anymore. I’m barely with you anymore
You mimic my tetni’d hands and ask me what I think it looks like. Mocking
You pour my legs over the massage table, I think you want me to stand
I can barely see let alone balance
You manipulate my body in many ways. My hands still curled into themselves like vines. My hair manic and wild
Sweat now cloaks me beautifully and I sparkle in the sunlight that pours through your windows
You say more things. You crack my back and bones
We’re almost done beating you up, you say
And I crave smoke, beer, escape
You bring in flowers and lay them on my shoes. You ask me to lay in the sun
Blow palo santo gently over me, breathe in the good of this session and let go of the bad, you say. The bad is just a judgment, you say
I’m about to melt into the bed. When you bring up my breath again. Don’t go into your head you bark, and you rob this mercy from me.
I want to trust my body and melt into the bed, the sun, like a warm golden puddle of butter. But back in my head I go trying to figure out what breath you want from me.
The end of the session was a blur. My hands were tentied for the next hour (putting on a motorcycle helmet was hilarious). I smoked cigs (something I’d only done one other time that year), I drank beer next to a pool with my friend for hours. I showered. Sat under the moon and processed. Cried. Felt my bruised ribs. What just happened?
It’s months later as I read this. I can see with compassion and pain how far I have come this past 6 months in understanding how disconnected I was to my boundaries, to my “NO”.
My past philosophies were die-hard, imitated and practiced warrior mentalities. Old and new. Pain was just a weakness to be conquered by the mind.
But I have found pain to be much more valuable than that.
I have found pain to be as important as happiness. Now when I stub my toe on a corner I breathe INTO it and expand it and allow it to process or shake instead of try and ignore or suppress it.
Pain and anger are our access to boundaries. You can’t have one without the other.
I have learnt about myself that this mentality of overcoming and being stronger than the pain has led me to endure experiences that no one needs to go through.
I have learned that I take authority for granted. That if a professional says I need something, be it masseuse, coach, therapist, I will first assume they know better than me what I want.
And I have been given many many opportunities since this to practice saying “NO” even when I’m just a maybe.
A part of me died in that session. In a good way. I know from the depths of my bones that I will never stay in a session or in an experience when my body is uncomfortable, saying no, or shattering in pain to that degree.
I’ve now been to my edge of that. Seeing all the “strength” I’ve practiced for years, be such an epic DISSERVICE to my changing body and state day to day, has been an immense lesson. I have a long way to go in finding the degrees before that intensity to attune to and honor in my body as boundaries. But I share here in hopes that you can learn from my intensity to say “NO” when you feel maybe, to NOT suffer through ANY bodywork session, and to NOT disregard your body resisting to this degree as weakness.
Thank you for reading.