I go for massages when I am desperately lonely, when I’m borderline help-me-please-take-me-out-of-my-brain-not-okay-type-lonely.
I’m in the throes of a thick depression, riding waves dark as night, laying low to assure myself I can make it through the day, limiting interactions, body movements, grandiose efforts to pretend all is well.
It’s 7 p.m. I am leaving my house for the first time in two days.
I go for massages when I am desperately lonely.
I slink through town and slide into the office, dim the lights and plop into the chair. Exhausted.
My massage therapist walks in. After introductions and a quick intake of all my (physical) ailments, during which I must remember this is not talk-therapy, I answer.
Then, she asks: “Is there anything you’d like to know about me?”
There it is. My head spins with potential, unaimed responses. “Yes, actually,” I say. Holy crap, I made it to my appointment and this poor woman has no idea what I’m dealing with, where I’m coming from, and why. There are so many things I’d like to know:
Where are you from?
How did you decide massage therapy was your path?
Can you help me find mine?
What’s your favorite part about massage?
Can you love me?
Can I love you?
Usually people get massages to get away from life.
To stop talking, to stop thinking, just to stop.
I go because I cannot stay here, within myself. I go to have a silent conversation with the person I have just paid to love me. I go to correlate my mind’s pain with its physical releases.
I go to find out where my demons live.
I cave into the not-okay-ness. I thank this woman in my mind for spending time with what she does not know is present.
Are you feeling any of my feelings?
Are you intuiting a story based on my body’s conversation?
What is my body saying, exactly?
Do you see my scars?
Can you tell I’m sick?
Are you worried?
Would you say something if you knew? (I wouldn’t mind if you did.)
Do you care?
“Paige, how are you doing? We have about 10 or so minutes left…”
“Great! Thank you so much.”
I let a couple of tears stream down my face. Here it comes, the big moment. The big reveal of this not-okay-ness, please-let-me-stay-longer, I-can’t-face-the-world, no-not-yet-no-please…
Paige, how are you really doing? Well. I am dreading the loss of this connection I have paid to make. I am clinging onto the warmth of this space. This stranger (she is lovely). The welcome. The permission to be. Anything and everything but myself.
But she has to go home. And so do I.
“You know, you seem super dehydrated to me. That usually happens with stress, lack of sleep, depression…”
Oh no, oh no, oh no. Here it comes…
“Oh, really? Yeah, I just finished finals, but that’s cool you can tell that!”
Deflected. Ignorance is bliss.
I get on my bike. It’s dark. Ambiance to match the triumph that is always leaving my house, putting on a smile, being seen, being touched. Being.
Where do you go to feel safe? What are you bringing with you into that space? What can we hold for you, as fellow heart-filled, messy, longing humans? We all need reminders of our existence, sometimes. Of our humanity. Of our basic needs: love, shelter, belonging.
When it comes down to it, I need you—and I think that you need me too.
I make my way back home, as we all work to do. A little more willing and a little more able to see the light that is connection, that is worth, that is you.
Author: Paige Leigh
Image: Lau_Lau Chan/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron