Thursday, May 5, 2011

On the Absence of Touch

I've wanted to write on this subject for ages, but have never found a way to do it without a heap of self-pity and other morose navel-gazing.

Until now.

Around fifteen years ago, I took on a massage course. There were two reasons for doing this. The first reason was that I thought it a good thing to do as a second job that could be taken anywhere. I didn't realise that I was falling into a vocation.

The second reason was a little more insidious. I partly took up massage to get some touch into my life. Some healthy, positive touch.

The lack of touch in he modern world is a phonomenon people don't talk about that often. People don't really think about it. I used to have a flatmate who said he liked being on crowded trains because he like being touched. At first I thought this creepy until years later, chronically celibate, I could sort of get where he was coming from, not that I'd even consider being packed in with 300 other strangers as positive touch.

Thinking about it, other than my monthly massage, the odd hug from friends, the Maow Maow and Blarney and Barney's kids, I'm rarely touched - making this massage even more important. I know if I leave it more than six weeks I start getting cranky. This positive touch helps to keep my physically, mentally and emotionally in check.

Since qualifying, I've given thousands of massages - bodies of all shapes and sizes. My speciality is feet - my reflexology sessions are the stuff of legend. Even my mother, who has always professed to hating being massaged asks me for one when I'm home. (Which doesn't creep me out at all - just another body on the slab)

Being a massage therapist, I also make sure that I receive a massage at least once a month from a professional standing - it keeps you up on techniques. There is a wonderful holistic practice in my suburb where I go to see my naturopath and my massage therapist - normally the wonderful Yoli who has been beating my tight shoulders into submission for years. Ths month, with things getting a bit stupid, booking to see Yoli was impossible. So I had a choice. Another female masseuse, or Dave.

I chose the latter.

To preface this, the other female massage therapist moans about her husband for the hour of your session. Not wanting that, Dave was the better choice.

Dave is my age, prematurely grey, has bit of a pot belly, wears birkenstocks in summer and he's been my naturopath for over seven years. We have exactly the same sense of humour - which I find very scary.

He can give me a massage, I thought - cool - nothing strange about that. Something different. The only change that would be made is that the knickers stay on. I know everybody in the practice has excellent towel technique, but still... there has to be a modicum of decorum - it's a strange mental barrier that one.

An hour later, I'm feeling wonderful - and no, nothing untoward happened.

Dave appears to have sorted my knee. Actually, Dave has magic hands. And a set of hot towels that just make you feel all floaty and safe. And a great firm but not painful touch. And somehow, he appears to have got my right ITB (Iliotibial band)  into a state where it is moving. Isolated the origin point of the bugger and did some work on it. AMAZING - this is what's causing my knee problems.

But more stunning to me - I'm having a massage and I'm identifying bones. "Is that a shoulder blade?" I asked, "Can you see it?" Yes - my scapulas are finally starting to show themselves - my back fat is going. "And are those ribs?"

Dave laughed at me. "Not use to the new body. Yes, I can feel your bones."

I've never been able to feel my bones - we at least have them near the surface. I knew about the cheek and collarbones, but shoulder blades, and hip bones and ribs - HELL!

"And have you changed your towel supplier? They seem bigger."
Dave once again had a laugh. "You're not quite used to the shrinking thing, are you?"

No. I'm not.

The size 16's are getting baggy. I've been a size 16 since university. There has been times where I will sit in a plane seat and there is barely any room between me and the tray table. Not any more. T-shirts have normally been purchased in an extra large - they're now swimming on me.

And for the first time in ages, I was with a group of women the other day and I didn't feel like the biggest one in the room. I'm starting to feel spacially "normal".

Huge stuff for me.

And having a massage from a bloke. Well, it seems the same thing stands since massage school - if you want your legs done - get a man to do them.

Going to go to bed all smiley now.

Heaven knows what will happen when this bout of singledom breaks. I think my smile might light up the world.


Kath Lockett said...

"Going to go to bed all smiley now."

Perfect. :)

River said...

I've had exactly two massages in my whole life, both of them last year as a result of two birthday gift certificates. Both were painful on my very tight shoulders and back, but I felt great after them. I would do this on a regular basis if I could.