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August 21, 2021

Confessions of a Massage Therapist.

Dim lights, soft music, the scent of lavender fills the room.

I press my feet into the floor and take a few deep breaths to get grounded. She arrives, and as I greet her, my assessment begins. We exchange pleasantries, sit, and I ask her how she is doing.

She mentions her responsibilities at work, her kids, her aging parents, her unwell friend, her impending deadlines. She shares a subtle disclosure about a worry that has not quite come to the surface yet.

But we can both feel the gravity underneath the words…and that’s okay.

We both know words can fall short. How can she tell me in a short chat what it means to live in her body, to be living her life? Every experience she has had is still within her—a part of her.

But there is a knowing that comes with many years of practicing massage therapy, and I am collecting clues. I watch her eyes, I listen to the tone of her voice, the depth of her breaths, and I study the tension in her jaw as she speaks.

A few minutes later, and it’s time for her to undress and get on the table where there will be more unveiling, exposures, and revelations. My eyes, hands, and heart have been fine-tuned for this. I hope she knows I have seen and touched it all before.

Moles.

Worn off pedicures.

Cellulite.

Body hair.

Fat rolls.

Age spots.

Cutting scars.

And that tattoo she regrets. 

I hope she doesn’t apologize for being real.

I easily find her tight muscles, knots, scar tissue, sticky fascia, and stiff joints. These are all tangible. In time, it softens under my hands, layer by layer.

But I have a confession: there’s much more to her than skin and bones and layers of muscle.

And to tell you the truth, I can feel the armor protecting her broken heart.

I can feel the blockage in her throat from words she never said.

I can feel the tears she held back because it wasn’t safe to cry.

I can feel the disconnect…and that’s okay.

She is safe here with me, I will protect her, and I will respect her. I think she can feel it too. She trusts me. We work together.

I try to create a safe place for her to take a deep breath—to be in her body. I want her to know she is not alone in her collection of wounds. I want her to know that every body I have touched has a story to tell.

I want her to know how beautiful I think she is.

And I want her to know that I am humbled that she trusts me with all of it.

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