Tell us about something you (or a person close to you) have done recently (or not so recently) that has made you really, unabashedly proud.
Other than my little boy, whose every accomplishment makes me so happy, the one thing that I am probably unabashedly proud of is the vocation that chose me.
I’m a massage therapist – a bodyworker to some people and I specialize in pain relief and relaxation. I entered massage therapy because of two things: the first was that everyone I worked with during my physical therapy days said I had wonderful hands, and that I should be a massage therapist. Having grown up with a dad who did have a massage parlor of sorts as part of the gentleman’s club he owned for a few years, massage for me had the darkened connotations of dim hallways and happy endings. Still I decided to check it out for the second reason: to work out my issues regarding touch.
I have a history of abuse and so touch for me was really an iffy thing. Touch to me equated sex, and nothing else. Which meant, if I wasn’t sleeping with you, or I wasn’t getting paid to touch you (as part of your physical therapy treatment – no happy endings, of course), then I wasn’t touching you. Period.
I was fortunate to have been blessed with two wonderful teachers when I started – Allison and John – and the gift of friendship and touch with Pam, a fellow student and later friend, who passed away three years ago from ovarian cancer, still giving massages, often for free, till three weeks before she died. Together, they taught me the power of touch in a safe and nurturing environment that allowed me to accept new realities and truths, that a simple touch can be as powerful as the intention attached to it, and most of all, that not all touch is created equal.
These days, I don’t work the six or seven days I used to work in my private practice. I work one to two days in my office and though I don’t have the 200 or so private clients that I used to see, I have a handful who refuse to see anyone else. It won’t make me a rich woman working the hours I do (I also teach massage), nor provide me with a cushy retirement, but no one gets rich just giving massage, and I mean really giving massage, not buying some franchise or owning a spa – you’re a businessperson by then.
But for those of us who still do it, and like Pam, will probably keep doing it with or without pay till the day we croak, we do it because we respect and recognize the power of touch. For the lucky few of us – practitioners or clients alike – we know how it feels when someone with the intention of pure compassion touches us. And if I can help just one person recognize that in the way I touch them, then of that, I am unabashedly proud.