Maybe sitting in front of a computer did it, but a few weeks ago a knot formed in the centre of my back right between my shoulder blades.
I decided to book an appointment with a massage therapist. Not a relaxing kind of massage, but one that would get in under my bones.
All the arrangements were made. I went grocery shopping beforehand and cut up and made up all the ingredients for tacos. Put all the tomatoes and lettuce and other fixings in individual tupperware containers to be ready for instant consumption upon my return. For I was not expecting to even really be able to walk afterwards.
The massage therapist was in the medical clinic down the street from my place. In the waiting room, a doctor appeared and asked us to move our chairs as a pair of paramedics were going to be rolling a stretcher through for a patient. As the paramedics pushed the stretcher past me, I thought I might need one of those after my appointment.
I was brought into the massage therapist’s room and we had a short chat about the problem. He left, I undressed and crawled facedown on to the bed under the covers.
He started softly, compassionately. It didn’t take long for him to dig in. The first bout of pain, like he was slowly stabbing a knife into my skin, came between my ribs, around the left lower back. As though my ribs had fused together and he was slowly separating them.
That’s when the first break happened. The therapist had no idea what was going on inside me. Probably did, this probably happened all the time.
I really do believe that we store trauma and other emotional elements inside our bodies. Years ago, I did a ten day silent meditation retreat. One of the exercises was to use our mind like a scalpel, moving through our body and removing all that we are emotionally storing and holding on to. To let go. This really stuck with me.
And so, as the message therapist separated my ribs, the break come in the form of affection. He was trying to help me through touch. And I realized that it had been a very long time since someone touched me in this kind of intimate way. I don’t mean a hug from a friend, which is always nice and welcomed. And I don’t mean in a sexual way. Just, affection. And for no reason other than someone wanting to share their love for you through their hands.
He moved his way up my back. I knew what he was doing. Circling around the knot between my shoulder blades, loosening me up for the big event.
I should have warned him that I have snap reflexes if anyone grabs me near the arm pit. I have no idea why. He hit a spot close to this area, and I squeezed my arms tight to my body, while at the same time almost blacking out in pain.
That’s when the second break happened.
I could feel my mind scurrying away, not wanting to be present, You see, all those things that I’m not doing, that I’m fully capable of doing, came to the forefront. Not failures per se, just things I want to accomplish in life. To do the kind of work I should be doing, to fulfill my potential. My mind wanted desperately to flee, but I grabbed on to it, demanded it be present.
With each new knot he worked out, my back feeling like a battle field of pain and broken emotions, we finally came to the headliner. The therapist cut into the space between my shoulder blades. Like, really dug in. My mind wanted to scurry away again, but I latched on to it. This was where the physical pain intersected with the emotional pain. Where I realized that I had been holding on to this pain because I was afraid of letting it go. I was afraid of who I would be without it.
It felt like he cracked my body open and all the pain and confusion and anger of past failed relationships and lost friendships came pouring out. And I let them go. Gladly. We always - never mind, I won’t speak for us, but for me. I always go to the place where I believe I am unloveable instead of considering that the other person was not in the place to love me or had the capacity to do so. And in my own responsibility, at certain moments in time, perhaps I was the one in the partnership who did not have this capacity. No one was to blame, yet everyone was to blame. Let’s let ourselves off the hook a bit more.
I had a choice. There’s always a choice. To hold on to these people. Or risk losing myself.
The therapist warned me I might feel a little lightheaded when I stood up. He gave me some stretches and exercises to do. I walked home very slowly.
Those were the best damn tacos I’ve ever eaten.