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What it means to be a healer

Landy Peek lives an active and happy life as a mom and a therapist. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

To be willingly vulnerable. To be with a hurting person where their pain is, and to stay there. To sit on the floor with a screaming child. Letting them express their frustrations, fears and pain requires courage. This courage is either innate or a well-nurtured — second nature for Landy Peek.

“You have to let people go on their own healing journey,” Peek said, “and be there to support them. I have to remember it’s not my journey.”

Peek’s journey into the healing arts began early. Her mother was a social worker and her father was a veterinarian in a town of 5,000 people.

“I often went with my mom when she did her work,” she said. “I saw a lot at a very young age. I was in elementary school when we went into a home for a scheduled visit. Mom didn’t know that there had just been a domestic disturbance. The mom was beaten. Her face was swollen and bruised. They couldn’t find her 2-year-old daughter. I remember standing in this disheveled living room calling out to this little girl. She popped her head up from under the couch cushions where she had hidden.”

Peek and her sister would go with their mother to a crisis nursery. The girls got a firsthand understanding of the problems that children can have.

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“I was in fifth grade and my sister was two years behind me,” she said. “I remember rocking crack babies. One little girl, who knows what happened to her, but she couldn’t swallow. So I’d gently stroke her throat so she could get food down.”

Peek understands why she was able to stand in the middle of these tragedies and not become a victim of them.

“There are people exposed to that kind of stuff,” she said, “but they don’t have a safe home. I was exposed to it but I had that safe home.”

Peek wasn’t spared the painful realities of life at any level. The responses that were modeled for her have empowered her.

“My dad’s a veterinarian,” she said. “I saw life and death very early.

“I remember my mom taking the coat off of her back to give to someone who needed it. I asked her why she did that and she said, ‘Because I can afford to buy a new one.’ I saw a lot of compassion and a lot of real world.”

As she grew up, Peek wasn’t sure what direction she might take in life. She never imagined herself becoming a pelvic therapist.

“I didn’t even know what occupational therapy was,” she said. “I was going to be a journalist, but one semester in college made it clear that wasn’t for me. I changed every semester until I got to occupational therapy. I graduated with a master’s in occupational therapy in 2011.”

Her ultimate career decision turned out to be fortuitous. Shortly after her second child was born, she found herself in a vulnerable spot.

“They say after having a baby, don’t lift anything heavier than the baby,” Peek said, “and they mean it. Five days after I had my son, my daughter was crying in her room. I went in and picked her up. She was two and she weighed about 30 pounds.”

“I called my midwife and she knew of no local sources that could help me. So my husband took the day off and we took the children to Albuquerque that day. I started therapy there.”

Peek had experienced pelvic organ prolapse. Her bladder had moved into a new and painful position in her body. This can happen for many reasons, and Peek was clear how she had contributed to her problem.

“I’m a runner,” she said. “I’m very active. I ran a 5K at 8-1/2 to 9 months pregnant. I shouldn’t have done that. Bouncing a baby off my pelvic floor weakened it. I did it because exercise helped my morning sickness.”

The therapist got a new lesson in vulnerability and a taste of her own medicine. But Peek knew what to do about it.

“Now,” she said, “I was being told I can’t run, I can’t lift groceries. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I’d worked with all these people who had disabilities. They had been told they could no longer live the life they had known. I realized that this is hard medicine to take. I needed to get reorganized.”

Putting her education to good use, Peek began a healing protocol that she tailored to her own needs.

“Because therapy was so far away and I have an occupational therapy degree,” she said, “I started doing therapy online. I learn as much as I can. I’m healing myself, that’s my goal.”

Distance, healing and learning work took her healing and her profession to a new level.

“I found an online therapist that really seemed to help people,” Peek said. “Part of what she did was trauma work.”

She spent three days out of state, in training. During that time, her husband took care of the children and the dogs in a house they had rented.

“That was a big turning point in my healing,” Peek said. “I came back a whole different person, feeling grounded and vibrant again like I could get back to where I was. Now that I have this knowledge, I want to help others.”

Peek now helps mothers in their homes. She helps them to heal from the shocks and traumas a new mom’s body is heir to. She also helps them to make adjustments to their daily routines necessitated by the changing needs of their bodies. Part of that work includes helping the children.

“I set my business up to work with moms and with babies,” she said. “There’s a lot of sitting on the floor with a kid who’s having a tantrum and meeting them where they are. Once they get through that, then we can build on a foundation. A lot of kids will crawl up in your lap because they need that connection.”

Peek has cared for the vulnerable since she was a child. She has known vulnerability. She has been blessed with good parental modeling and a supportive husband. The combination has given her a broader view of what it means to be a healer.

“I have more patience,” she said. “That’s a hard thing to learn as a therapist. I understand where a patient is as they’re going through their own healing journey. Sometimes we’re not going to push them through. Sometimes they need a break from therapy.”