We spent two glorious weeks in Hawaii last October. The four of us read books, dunked each other in the pool, rode waves, and ate decadent meals. In short, we spoiled ourselves rotten. Bubba left his laptop at home and made us his work and it was better than perfect.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, I found out that Bubba and the girls had scheduled a 90 minute massage for me on our last full day at the resort. The spa, as most of them go, was designed to be a world away from the busy pool and constant chatter of the hotel. I stood at the counter and completed the requisite forms, noting my propensity for tension in my neck and shoulders, swearing that I wasn't pregnant or prone to heart-attacks and the Barbie doll behind the counter looked up, her brow furrowed and one eyebrow raised.
"Is it okay if your masseuse is a man? We forgot to ask you that when you made the appointment. Some people prefer a woman for a full-body massage." It was clear that she was hoping it wasn't an issue for me.
"Nope. That's fine." I answered quickly, but the wonder rattled around in my brain for a bit. As someone who had been molested by a teenage boy, shouldn't I be uncomfortable with having a man massage me? Maybe, but it really didn't bother me.
Ten minutes later I was standing in a room that can only be described as warm. The floor was strips of mahogany bamboo the color of melted brown sugar. The lights cast gold upward on sage green walls and the massage table was covered in the fluffiest white terrycloth I'd ever seen. My masseuse was ageless. Shiny-bald and muscular, he wore shorts and a tight t-shirt, but his eyes were loving and grandfatherly. After asking me to stand straight and breathe deeply, he skimmed his hands down my sides, mapping the position of my shoulders and hips. He asked whether I had any lower back issues ('nope, just shoulder and neck'), let me pick the music and the scents I wanted, and left the room so that I could undress and get under the cloud-like blanket.
The first thing I noticed when I laid down was the lotus flower that sat on the floor beneath my head. What a lovely touch. Something to look at while he was working on me.
"I know you said you don't have any lower back issues, but from what I can tell, your pelvis is rotated and your sacrum is misaligned. I will concentrate a little more on your shoulders and neck, but I want to work on this area a bit, too. Is that okay?"
He began with my legs and feet and I settled in to that place between waking and sleep that I reserve for just these times. It was such a relief to be in the room with someone else and not be expected to talk.
As his strong hands pushed into tight tissues I reminded myself to breathe deeply to help relax the muscles. By the time he reached my lower back I was perfectly relaxed. As he began to work on the muscles surrounding my spine down near my hips I felt a clot build in my throat.
It continued to grow slowly like a tornado you can see coming from miles away.
Hot tears spattered onto the lotus flower beneath me. What the hell was going on? I have had dozens of massages before and never felt this way. I wasn't scared or uncomfortable. His touch was healing and warm and giving and...pure love. Why was I crying?
"You need to let go of whatever you're holding onto in this place." His words came in a kind, knowing wave. I don't know what he knew that I didn't, but he was right. What was I holding on to there? What had his touch released? In this room where I felt surrounded by warmth and peace I was exorcising a demon I hadn't known existed. I continued to cry silently as he worked on my back.
Before I rejoined Bubba and the kids at the pool, I stole up to the hotel room to sit and think about what happened. Mixed with my sadness I felt relief at what had been released. Together, they clouded my brain with confusion. Where do I go from here? What is this thing? I grabbed a pencil and began scribbling notes.
I don't know how to let go of this thing I'm holding on to.
"You can't have this! You can't have this part of me! I'm not a scared little girl in your dark bedroom anymore. I'm an adult."
Can I imagine this as a weight attached to my sacrum? What if I lie on my back and imagine there is no space between my lower back and the bed? Can I squish it?
What if I unclip the weight? Let go? Drop it?
I am still trying to figure out what to do with this newfound knowledge. Tomorrow I'm going to get another massage. I'm hoping that this new masseuse possesses some of the wisdom my Hawaiian masseuse did. I'm just raw enough right now to want to try some more letting go.