Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend whom I have not seen in eighteen years. A young person’s lifetime. Tim Berry is a PhD psychologist who used to have his practice in St.Helena, CA, and many years ago when I still lived in the Napa Valley, he would refer some of his clients to me for bodywork. It was at this time that I began to be acutely aware of the emotional releases and responses that came up for people as I worked on their bodies. I had asked Tim if I could start working with his clients in his office with him present, so that he could witness what was happening and respond to the clients’ psychological needs if it was appropriate. Unfortunately at the time, the codes of ethics for both massage therapy and psychotherapy would not allow such a thing to happen. I continued to stay well within the parameters of my scope of practice and not react or engage with their process except to offer support and comfort, but I did ask permission of the clients to take notes and share them with Tim. This was the beginning of my love affair with somatic bodywork.
A couple of years before I left Napa, Tim and I were invited to be part of the core group to start a truly integrated healthcare practice in the Napa Valley. It was to include a medical doctor, a psychotherapist, an acupuncturist, a naturopath, a physical therapist, a chiropractor, a nurse practitioner, and a massage therapist. Tim and I were to fill our respective roles, and the other roles were to be filled by people who were locals and had thriving practices of their own. After a few months of meetings and brainstorming sessions, we were all informed that the doctor had gone ahead and copyrighted all our collective materials and licensed a retreat center by himself.
I think we were all upset at having the idea and the hard work we all put in to it ripped away from us; I was also upset that he used the name that I had come up with for the group, Mayacamas Healing Network, and called his center Mayacamas. Mayacamas is the name of the ridge of hills that separate the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. From the indigenous Wappo language, it means “lone wolf howling in the hills”. I surely would have liked to have that that to use had the rest of us decided to continue on. Things fell apart, though, and pretty soon we gave up trying to find another doctor and all of us went back to our private practices. Fortunately for me, I was able to live the dream a few years later when I was on staff at Choices Integrative Healthcare in Sedona.
Tim and I continued on as before, and fell into the rhythm of having semi-regular lunches at Armadillo on Main Street in St Helena to talk about our shared clients and our own lives. In time, I became of client of Tim’s when I needed some help navigating a difficult relationship. He saw “the guy” (sorry, but that’s all the mention he’s going to get) once every week, and then once every other week he would see us together. It was in this process that I discovered the lengths that I was willing to go to in order to have some semblance of love in my life. After it was all over, and the dust had settled, I remarked to Tim that I felt oddly disconnected, but I didn’t know from what. I will always remember his face as he looked at me, smiled, and said, “This is what you feel like when you are fully you, and not having to deal with holding the space for anyone else anymore.” What a concept.
I moved to Arizona in April of 1999, although I returned to Napa many times during the next year while Kyle was still living with his father. As the detrimental effect of that situation became more and more apparent in Kyle’s self esteem and demeanor, I contacted Tim and asked for his advice, and any help that he could give. Due to our friendship, we agreed that for him to see Kyle and assess the situation would not hold up very well in the legal system, so he made a referral for us. While Kyle received support from the other psychotherapist, I received plenty of support from Tim. He helped me through a situation that was both heartbreaking and completely frustrating. We got through it, though, and very soon Kyle was living in Arizona with me. Between the therapy and the ceremonial support from his godparents in Sedona, he found the wherewithal to make his statement to his father. I will always be indebted to Tim for his steadfast friendship and guidance.
The day before I picked Kyle up at his dad’s and took him to Arizona was the last time I saw Tim. Until yesterday. Well, yes, we have been connected through social media for a couple of years, so there has been the peripheral knowledge of each other’s lives. That’s how I knew he has been living in Port Townsend for the past few years. When the possibility of my moving up here arose, I emailed him and we’ve been having a written conversation about the area for a few months. When I was up here to check things out in March, I left the day before he and his wife returned from two weeks in Hawaii. It was a reunion that wasn’t ready to happen.
It finally did happen, though. When we settled upon a lunch date for yesterday, I had an overwhelming influx of emotion as I realized how many years had gone by. It wasn’t the amount of years; it was the amount of stuff that had happened during those years. How to sum all of that up? Best not to. Like a good meal eaten, let the memories be finished. We did spend an hour or so catching up each other’s timeline, and that’s a good way to begin afresh.