During a recent body movement training in Atlanta, GA the topic of the necessity for CPR Certification came up. It was interesting how each person in the workshop, depending on their stage of life, shared a different perspective on the importance of having CPR as a tool to have in their back pocket. One of the ladies in the class, Mary Siclair Willas, shared her story with an intensity that brought everyone in the class to complete silence.
She was a twenty-year old student at Ohio State having lunch by herself at a very crowded Wendy’s. As she was eating her lunch, she heard a loud crash and when she looked up a man’s teeth flew across the room toward her. The sound he was making with horrifying as his body thrashed on the floor all over the restaurant in a full blown seizure. As Mary sat there in shock, she noticed several people in the restaurant were not acknowledging what was happening and got up and left the restaurant. Mary remembers one person got up and moved things out of the way for the man.
Mary, coming from a small town in Ohio, had led a sheltered life up until this experience. She froze and stayed glued to her chair while the man was seizing because she did not know what to do. At the time, her major in college was Adaptive Physical Education focusing on working with people and kids with major disabilities. This experience deeply disturbed her because she did not know what to do and she felt like she should be helping.
As she told the story, I observed from the tension in Mary’s body and breath how my autonomic nervous was responding sympathetically. She took me back to that day in Wendy’s. Her nervous system was still in shock and firing from this experience over twenty years later. Little did I know, this story continued to play itself out in Mary’s life.
She tapped back to the shock in printed in her nervous system as she hypnotically spoke about her son. While he was having his nine month check up, the doctor told Mary she needed to have her son’s eyesight evaluated. During a battery of excruciating tests, the nurse told Mary that the results usually take 8-10 days, but in her son’s case, she should hear back from the doctor the next day because what they had observed was extremely significant. Mary recalls hearing the nurse’s voice and seeing the room like yesterday because the second wave of shock came from thinking the purpose of the tests were to rule out something. What was the nurse talking about? Her mind was blown again –similar to the day she sat helplessly as she observed the man in Wendy’s having a full-blown seizure. All she could think about was how do I handle this.
Mary found out the next day that her son was having partial seizures. Except this time, it was not about her not knowing what to do, it was about her son and she was determined to find a way to help him heal. Confronting her conservative upbringing toward medicine, twenty years later, she faced the medication and protocol requirements to control her son’s seizures. Mary and her son healed together from Mary finding a way to flip the switch on “not knowing” what to do and finding the strength to take advantage of all the ways she could learn how to help her son.
During our class snack break, I asked Mary if she was open to talking to me about her experiences. She agreed. I asked Mary if she ever connected the dots to the traumatic experiences that continued to repeat themselves in her life — the helplessness she felt from the day in Wendy’s while witnessing the man as he had a seizure at twenty years old? Was she aware of the deep in print this made on her nervous system to the point that fast forward — twenty years later—she experienced the same situation except this time it was intensified by infinity, because it was about her son having seizures. Mary’s whole body softened and whispered back, “no I have never considered that until now.” We spoke about how belief becomes our biology. I knew from what we revealed that Mary’s Inner Legend was open to the period on the page where she could make a connection to her life story and realize how much she had grown from the different choices she made from similar experiences in her life. I needed to walk away and let Mary’s neuro chemistry marinate in this new found connection in her Inner Legend; however, I asked her if I could share her story and she agreed.
Two days later, Mary spoke to me in detail about her story. She found out on her husband’s side of the family, there is a history of seizures but it was not something his family was willing to talk about it. She is passionate about educating people about people who suffer from seizures because of the stigma attached to this knowledge. Many times people who suffer from seizures do not like to go to the ER because it limits their freedoms.
Full circle back to our initial conversation about the importance of CPR Certification, Mary believes CPR is a skill that everyone can obtain and have comfort in knowing they can help someone. I gave Mary a Neural Integration to disconnect the impact of the shock on her nervous system from her experience that day in Wendy’s and her son’s diagnosis. Balancing Mary’s nervous system will provide a new blank canvas creating new synaptic pathways to write her Inner Legend going forward.
Mary is a committed Pilate and GYTROTONIC® instructor at Body Pure Pilates.