In 2006 I graduated with a bachelor of science in physical therapy. I chose to start my physical therapy career in Moose Jaw. I worked for basically every employer possible in Moose Jaw at the time, starting at the hospital and then moving into private practice from there.
Just a few years into this career, I was a stress-bucket. I thought it was my duty to fix everyone. I allowed bosses to control my schedule which often involved doing my dambdest to accommodate their unrealistic and impossible demands. There were interpersonal conflicts everywhere – amongst workers, between professions, with insurance companies offering sponsored programs, with patient employers, with my bosses/ owners/ managers… yet I still tried and tried with all my might to please everyone, not yet realizing they’d never be pleased, it’d never be enough, they’d always just take-take-take, there’d never be acknowledgement, and it’d never ever end. There was bullying. There was power-over. There was every single type of conflict you could imagine.
Right about the time I was knocking on the door towards a nervous breakdown or stress-induced illness, I was introduced to the Integrated Systems Model (ISM – Diane Lee) through a weekend session at the U of S called Discover Physio. I was worn out, exhausted, and I’m certain in adrenal fatigue amongst other things such as a host of digestive issues, inability to sleep, anxiety etc. I literally had to give myself a “pep talk” every morning to convince myself to go to work… sometimes the pep talk had to occur first thing upon waking, again while getting ready, and again while sitting in my car after parking at work. I was plagued with migraines and several physical injuries including a disc herniation in my lower back. I also constantly had to manage a mid back injury that created waves of nerve pain and inhibited my ability to work with my hands. I was not well. And every time I just got going into a good exercise routine, I hurt something else or flared a pre-existing injury, and was derailed from my exercise routine once again.
And so, I was instantly called to the holistic model of physical therapy as that Discover Physio weekend answered dozens upon dozens of questions I’d had as to why I wasn’t seeing the results I desired through conventional physical therapy. I was working hard, and so were my patients, yet a lot of their ailments (and mine) just didn’t improve. I yearned to know why.
So, that Monday I signed up for the Discover Physio training series in Vancouver and started on my path to becoming ISM-Certified and opening Within Physical Therapy. I also had one-on-one treatment myself with Diane Lee to address my own physical issues.
While the holistic ISM model was hands-down, for me, a far superior method to physical therapy, there were some things that just didn’t change. Yes, I worked for myself and I was a much better boss/ owner/ manager whom actually appreciated my dedicated and devoted hard work. Yes, I had more flexibility to manage my schedule how I saw fit. Yes, I avoided a tremendous amount of stress by choosing not to work with insurance providers or those that offered sponsored programs. Yes, overall my entire world was much better… But, I still thought it was my duty to fix everyone. And I still tried and tried to please every client, not yet realizing that for a chunk of them – they’d never be pleased, it’d never be enough, they’d always just take-take-take, there’d never be acknowledgement of the gains they’d made, and it’d never ever end. And this dynamic carried over in every other facet of my life too – my personal life paralleled my work life.
In March, 2017 I started on my journey with Training in Power (TIP) by taking level 1. Then I took level 2 in July 2017, level 3 in June 2018, level 4 in May 2019, level 5 in September 2019, and level 6 in February, 2020. Early on into this training, I learned the gigantic responsibility of having to fix and having to please was an incorrect energetic imposed on me at a very young age, and it continued through to adulthood. When I learned and grasped how unfair and untrue this imposition was, I was able to release it with TIP methods. I was then also able to identify those toxic clients that I had a right not to work with. I learned how to establish boundaries where I avoided placing myself in a lose-lose situation or any situation where I was made to sacrifice myself in any way whether it be unfairly sacrificed time, energy, or head-space. I learned to recognize those toxic clients (and family members and friends) who constantly push your boundaries and test you just to see how far they can go and what they can get away with. I learned the dynamics that triggered anxiety and used anxiety as a tool and a hint that something needed to be investigated and solved here.
More importantly, I learned to have immense gratitude for the awesome and well-intended clients I was honored to work with – those who generally wanted to heal, do the work, learn, and improve. And I was (and still am!) so thankful that the bulk of my caseload was made up of awesome clients. And I learned, those are the clients that I co-learned right along side with. It was a collaboration, a team effort, a partnership. I learned this is what physical therapy (and any other health service) is meant to be, but yet, is such a rarity. I went from never discharging any client from 2006 through to 2017 to clearing my caseload of all toxic clients with no guilt, no remorse, and absolutely no doubting that it was a necessary step towards self-care and necessary boundaries.
I also learned that those well intended and awesome clients to work with, were also consistently and repeatedly battling the same battles I was. They were always under extremely high stress whether they recognized it or not. They thought it was their duty to fix everyone, please everyone, be the mediator or peace-maker, the accommodator, or the one to always be doing the sacrificing. They were fighting to accommodate others’ unrealistic and impossible demands. They were amidst interpersonal conflicts everywhere whether it involved work, family, or a relationship. They were in some sort of bullying or power-over dynamic, again whether they fully recognized or not. They had tried and tried with all their might to please everyone, not yet realizing they’d never be pleased, it’d never be enough, they’d always just take-take-take, there’d never be acknowledgement, and it’d never ever end. And they were seeing me for treatment, so add to that puzzle pain, your physical form keeping you from the exercise you desire and other stress-busters… add mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical unhealth to the picture and it’s a hard picture to take a look at.
As my work-life was transforming, so was my personal life. I established boundaries with family and “friends” that I’d never had before, and that at one point felt absolutely impossible to carry out. You know that awesome, re-freshened feeling you get when you clean out your closet and you purge that which you no longer love or that which you no longer desire to wear… and you organize your closet so its in tip-top shape, you fill it only with items you hold dear and cherish, and you let go of the items that no longer serve you? That’s how it felt to clean up my work life and my personal life. Toxic people not only exist, they flourish here by drumming up drama, wreaking havoc in relationships, and by causing others to walk on eggshells around them.
It was at this point I learned that hands-on treatment, no matter how brilliant and innovative and effective, can only take you so far if you are living a life entangled with stress… with unhealthy energetic patterns. And that if we all just stop and pause on a regular basis and tune to the knowing of our intuition, our gut instinct, then we can start to avoid being pulled into the same dynamics over and over again that we detest, that we fear, that we resent, that drain us, and that we want to avoid at all cost. And we are the only ones who can change our own energetic patterns. It takes us, working on us. We can then start to walk a new path, lay down some new tracks, and create the life we think is only available to us in our dreams.
So, thank you to all those prior toxic clients and family/ friends for teaching me that just because I offered a service or was in a service-profession, did not mean I must be in servility to you. Thank you for teaching me it was not my job to tolerate or manage your toxic attitude and behavior. Thank you for teaching me I didn’t owe you anything – no matter the circumstance. Thank you for teaching me it was never my duty to try to win you over or convince you of a belief or system you had no regard for. Thank you for teaching me I deserved nothing but respect and appreciation for being me, and for the innovative and unique skillset I offered to the community of Moose Jaw. Thank you for showing me the holes and gaps in our legislation that is solely geared to protecting the public and not at all geared to protecting the service-provider, and for the “ignorance is bliss” mentality on this topic… and for showing me how far we have yet to go to not only recognize quality alternative professionals but to also value such professionals… instead of holding the mainstream way as somehow being superior, when it blatantly is not. Thank you for teaching me the art of understanding that all of the harm you accused me of doing was in actuality, the harm you were not only intending, but actively partaking in, and inflicting. And for teaching me how to be completely invulnerable to your toxic words and actions.
And far more importantly, thank you to those well-intended and awesome clients whom showed me that there absolutely is a demand and an interest for alternative work – for work that is holistic, intuitive, energetic, and for work that lies outside the realm of the regular biomedical model or the norm. Thank you for showing me that there is an enormous desire to self-heal, to learn, and to explore options beyond medication and the typical pathways offered to health. Thank you for choosing to go within and for being dedicated clients. Thank you for the magnificent lesson of no matter how brilliant and innovative and effective a healing model is, it can only take you so far if you are living a life entangled with stress… with unhealthy energetic patterns… and that’s where healing must start. And thank you because you have taught me the greatest lesson – the lesson that my life’s journey was to always be an intuitive and energetic coach. I just took the scenic route to get here…