Last Tuesday I had my first massage which was a MASSIVE step for me to take.
Only earlier this year when it was suggested to me I said “no way can I have anyone touch me” but I agreed to see someone at the centre who is a very good counsellor. The work I’ve been doing with her has helped me feel that the centre is a safe place. It has indeed become a very safe place for me which enabled me to reconsider the massage idea.
I originally considered starting massage in July but didn’t feel ready so put it off till September. I still didn’t feel ready. I guess I never was going to ever feel ready! But I’m not short on courage, besides, I always see things through. So I made the appointment and prepared myself as best I could. After a quarter of a century of no touch except the very occasional hug it was always going to be HUGE for me to go ahead with!
As you can imagine I was feeling absolutely awful when last Tuesday came, I was feeling so bad that I almost phoned and cancelled but I knew cancelling wouldn’t solve anything. I arrived feeling really yucky and absolutely terrified and wishing I’d taken some Diazepam! My massage therapist was waiting for me and greeted me very warmly and disarmingly. I followed her down to the room where she introduced herself to me and mentioned she’d been doing massage for 22 years. She took a medical history from me and I was really impressed that she knew what each of my meds are and what they do. After that she asked me what had led to me deciding to start to have massage. So I briefly explained the childhood abuse and the journey I’m on and that it’s the next step on my healing journey. She explained to me what different massages she could do and asked where I felt most comfortable about starting. I felt like saying “err none of it” but said I reckoned my back, neck, shoulders and arms would probably be best. I knew that lying on my back would feel way too vulnerable and exposed whereas lying on my front felt relatively safe in contrast. She explained I’d have to take my shoes off and that most people strip down to their underwear. I said I’d just about be happy taking my top off but that was going to be my limit. She was fine with that, as she said, “this is about you and what you need, we are going to take it at your pace”.
I lay on my front on the massage table and clasped my hands in front of me. I stayed like that for the whole hour. By the end of my massage I had no feeling in my hands because I’d been clasping them so hard!
She began on my back and worked all over my back to start with. While she was doing that she was standing either side of me. Even though my eyes were closed I was aware of every movement she made. When she paused I resisted the temptation to open my eyes but wondered “hmm why’s she paused, what’s she doing with her hands?” All my senses were on alert!
I have a lot of tender and painful spots all over my body. Some are to do with old childhood injuries and others to do with the ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia. There were several times it really hurt when she touched me. It took me a long time to summon up the courage and tell her when it hurt. It really wasn’t easy to say it but when I did find the courage to she was great. She stopped what she was doing. We talked about it and she changed how she was massaging me on that spot or moved to another place. That was massive for me. To have a positive response to saying “whoa, that hurt” was so healing and validating!
When she decided to work on my neck and arms she moved to standing in front of me. I found that really difficult to handle. It was obviously reminding me of stuff from oral rapes. But also having someone stood over you who could easily overpower you, wow, that was HARD. I didn’t tell her but I started getting really bad nausea. It’s not much fun lying on your stomach feeling sick and just hoping you won’t be.
I had to do a lot of self talk to keep myself there, to keep myself from running from the room and to keep myself from throwing up several times. I also had to talk myself back into the room once early on in the massage when I suddenly became aware of what my mind was doing, what my thoughts were and that I had dissociated and gone completely from the scene in my mind.
I made it through to the end of the massage which was amazing.
The massage therapist said she was amazed and really proud of me. She thought I’d run out after 5 minutes. I responded that I’d been determined to see it through.
It was very strange for me to have someone touching me and doing something for me while not expecting or wanting anything in return. In fact the only thing she wants is for me to relax and eventually enjoy it! She told me that at the end and said “maybe, next time, you’ll be able to relax a little!”
Afterwards I booked my next massage for 11th October. Hoping that will be slightly easier!