She has the warmest hands. My skin is usually cool to the touch, so the warmth of her hands feels like heaven, soaking into my skin, muscle and bone.
I had the pleasure of those warm hands for almost 4 days in April. My shoulders are almost continually tense and tight, but when she started working out the tension and knots, the change was immediate. The warmth from her hands radiated through my shoulders, carrying all her love and healing intention. I felt my shoulders drop, the almost unnoticed continual grimace smooth from my face. My whole body relaxed.
She did similar magic to my calf muscles. A long line of therapeutic massage practitioners will tell you that my calves are insanely tight and that it takes a lot of physical effort to get them to let go. Her warm hands have magic beyond that of the ordinary masseuse. She noted that they were very tight and tense, but I know from experience that, for her, they loosened up relatively quickly.
The magic of her healing touch extends beyond the muscles manipulated in a normal massage. Sunday was a long, wonderful day but not without its heavy moments. At one point that evening, maybe it was after working on my shoulders, she was trying to work through some tough areas below my shoulder blades. She was encountering a lot of resistance, and detected a lack of symmetry between my left and right sides, a lump of sorts under my ribs on the left side. She spent some time trying to work through it, but that knot of tension resisted her warm, sweet come ons.
She put her palm over my breastbone, slightly cupped. She told me this was the point corresponding to the lump she felt in my back. I felt a sudden, penetrating warmth, like a heat lamp against my chest. She asked me what was going on in there, what I was holding onto so tightly. She could feel the knotty, conflicted, teeth-gritted tension inside me.
I’ve heard that sometimes deep tissue massage can cause emotional release, but all she’d had to do was place her hand over my heart. I fumbled, stumbled verbally, not sure how to articulate the sudden rush of feeling. What followed was a sometimes incoherent stream of tears, confessions of shortcomings, sobbing my way through a catalog of fears and desperate hopes. I hold a lot of pain and blame inside. There was a bundle of pain and sadness related to the loss of my daughter’s beloved kitty, Walter. I was critical of my response to her loss — that I’d remained strong and unemotional, when she really needed me to share the loss and grief with her. And I was grieving, I really liked that little guy, he as my buddy and I haven’t felt that close to a cat since Petey who died in the early 90s. I just have a hard time sharing my pain when others are suffering. I don’t want to burden them, I want to be strong for them.
Unwrapping that bundle led to the more generalized fear I have of not being able to protect my daughters from future pain, loss and grief. I’m sure that’s a common feeling among parents. I sobbed over my inability to protect my sweet girls from the pain life would surely deal out, especially with my big one heading to middle school next year. That led to us digging up a really old, grizzled ball of emotion, the trauma of my middle school experience.
That was an interesting one to bring into the light. I’ve been holding on to my anger and fear about being hazed, bullied, harassed and ostracized since eight grade. I managed to get through that hell without any friends, without adult help. I’ve had that in my trophy case all this time, my big triumph over the ignorant masses, my solo walk through hell, my badge of honor, signifying the strength I can muster in times of need.
And you know what? I need to let it go. At some point I need to let go, forgive and allow myself to heal. No easy feat, harder maybe than going through it in the first place. I’ve created a whole mythology about myself because of what happened to me in eight grade, I’m afraid that if I let go of that, if I pull it up by the roots and put it aside, some of what I feel is essential to me will crumble and fade.
Throughout my emotional unpacking, she checked in with me, asking if it was too much, if I wanted to continue to exorcise my demons or stop. We did take a break, or two, I was crying so much I needed to rehydrate. She was beautiful, loving, understanding and accepting through it all. At one point, I wanted to keep going but was feeling a lot of internal resistance. I wasn’t able to come up with words to describe the fight going on inside but wanted to keep going. Her response was magical. She performed open heart surgery on me. No, no, not really, but she went through the motions with her hands. Made the incisions, spread the tissue and bone, allowed the afternoon light to shine into the dark corners. I was watching intently and could feel my resistance weakening, feel myself opening up. My breaths were deeper, clearer. It was serious healing magic.
She helped me work through a lot of stuff. I won’t say I’m over it, but I have a better idea what’s in that knot around my heart. We did a pretty good inventory, you might say. I might have been able to do something like this in a professional therapy session of some kind, but I very much prefer opening up to someone I trust and love and who loves and accepts me so well.
She’s got the healing touch.
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