I’d never gotten a massage in my life until my 33rd birthday. A friend gave it to me as a gift and it was alright I guess but I didn’t get another one until a few years later after I had medical insurance that paid for them. During that second massage I had the almost uncontrollable urge to jump up off the table and run screaming from the place. The lady was nice enough but I just didn’t like it. The sounds, the smells, the atmosphere…and, when I went home, I cried and cried for hours. I felt sick to my stomach and totally creeped out. I never went back.

Three years ago I received a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas. I was glad to get it but so nervous about going that I didn’t make the appointment for almost four months. When I did finally go, the young woman who provided the massage was very nice but again I was so creeped out by the sounds she made and the atmosphere in the place that I could barely stay. I stuck it out with the aid of some deep breathing techniques I know and when it was over, I practically ran from the place. It was all I could do not to throw up out in the street.

Fast forward to February of this year when my husband was involved in a three car accident. He wasn’t at fault but he certainly was on the bad end of some injuries to his back. Whiplash added to it all made it worse and he’s retained an attorney and been seeing a chiropractor, K, and an acupuncturist, B, and a deep tissue massage therapist, S, since early March. These women share an office and the improvement of his injuries is slow but phenomenal. After his second or third visit to S, he told her about the severe pain issues I have. She told him she thought she could help me and after talking about it, I decided I’d give it a shot. I was very nervous but went anyway.

S was very nice and for some reason I didn’t feel creeped out. I’d never had a deep tissue massage before and omg, it hurt. But she addressed the severe pain at the base of my skull and I was able to sleep that night without waking for the first time in a long time. The second time I saw S, I told her it was the first time I’d ever seen a massage therapist more than once and it wasn’t creepy and awful. We talked about my experiences with massage and I have been getting a massage almost weekly since.

Yesterday was my regular appointment with S. Prior to my appointment I saw K, the chiropractor. I have been dealing with extreme pain issues for quite some time and these two women are doing their best to help me with them. After a particularly difficult adjustment yesterday, K asked if I’d ever seen an acupuncturist. I said I hadn’t and she suggested that perhaps this kind of treatment would be beneficial to me. I said the thought of it made me nervous but if she thought it might help, I’d give it a try. We walked down the hall to see B. S was down there chatting with her and as K mentioned my issues and an appointment, S piped in with “It can’t hurt because I am certainly not helping her any.”

Her words surprised me because I’ve gone from not sleeping well, thanks to the horrific pain at the base of my skull, to being able to sleep most nights (save one or two a week) without the pain or at least with considerably less pain. That is huge to me so I didn’t understand her comment at all. When my massage appointment time arrived, I asked about her comment and she told me that by her criteria – range of motion etc – I was not improving and she didn’t understand why I continued to see her. She said that after I’d left earlier (after speaking with B) she and B had talked about why she thought I’d not improved. S mentioned the part about me not being able to stand being touched and B said “Well that’s improvement.” So S decided that perhaps she was being too hard on herself.

***TRIGGER ALERT*** (if you have trauma issues, stop reading now ok?)

Then she said she wanted to ask me a very personal question and began telling me a story from her childhood. She said “When I was 6 years old, my parents hired a babysitter for me and my younger brother. This boy was 16 and he was the son of a deacon in our church. When my parents left, this boy asked me if I knew how to make a sandwich (and she drew out the last sound of that word in a way that was quite creepy sounding). I said ‘no’ and he said ‘First we need two pieces of bread, then you will be the meat and I will make the mayonnaise’.” (here she asked me ‘do you understand what I mean?’) I said “Yes, I get it” and she continued “this boy made mayonnaise on me and to this day I cannot stand to be touched where he did that. My parents insisted he couldn’t possibly have done anything like what I said he did because he was the deacon’s son and it just couldn’t happen, so this boy hurt me and my brother for three years while our parents were out and about doing whatever it is they did.”

I said “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” and she asked “Did anything like that happen to you? I have a feeling this pain we’ve been working on is more than just physical…” I thought for a few moments and said “My grandfather began raping me with metal hangers when I was six months old and…” here S gasped and said “Ohmygod!” I continued “…that’s all I’m saying.” S stopped moving completely and said “Well, I didn’t expect that but it makes perfect sense now. No wonder you don’t like being touched, you’re a victim. I hope you aren’t ashamed of what happened to you because it’s not your fault and you should tell B about this when you see her…” there was more but I stopped her and said “First of all, I’m not a victim. Second of all, I’ve spent 14 years in therapy so I wouldn’t be ashamed of what my grandfather did and third, I’ll decide whether I want to talk to B about this or not when I get there.”

She literally let out a laugh and said “Good for you! I guess you told me didn’t you?” There was more however she ended with “I think you’ll be surprised at how much B’s treatment will help you. I’m honored that you trust me enough to do this and now I get why you think it’s helping you…”

Since arriving home yesterday from my appointment, I have felt very unsettled and it pisses me off. I don’t want to go back there now but the pain relief and management I get from my treatments there are so helpful, it would be more than stupid not to. Oy.


5 responses to this post.

  1. I have not yet made it far enough to be able to tolerate something like having a massage. Good for you, Traci!! You’re doing it!


  2. Oh, Traci. How is that you’ve been elected to educate alleged professionals about proper behavior? I’m aghast. I’ve never used that word on a blog before. Speechless. I’ll try again later. Oh, but I can manage AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!


  3. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, right?



  4. Well, I’m kind of like Susie. Still speechless. But, you know, the one thing I think you can trust are your own instincts.


  5. victim? who the hell uses victim??? what kind of stupid label is that? I’m glad you called her out on that one. hopefully you’ll be able to find both pain relief and comfort soon.


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