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When I was making lots of money I had a long-standing appointment every week with a massage therapist. The stress of that life afforded self-indulgences to relieve said stress. When you work with someone regularly, or rather they work on you, it becomes a time when your mind can also relax and flow.  I would sometimes enter a state very close to sleep. OK, I did fall asleep on a few occasions and that should have been my sign to change my lifestyle.

For my birthday, my lovely oldest daughter gave me the gift of her hands and wisdom. Lex is a massage therapist and arranged her portable table in my bedroom as the sun was streaming through the window on a breeze scented with peonies. Somehow, for an hour, five dogs managed to find something else to do and the world was reduced to her hands and our synchronized breathing.

I don’t think there is any more vulnerable position, mentally and physically, than when you put yourself in the hands of a masseuse. For them to bring relief and healing, the recipient must give up their body; allowing someone to stretch and contract muscles, dig into that knot with a firmly gentle elbow or thumb, is to release all control. To do it naked is psychologically challenging. As strange as it sounds, it is easier with someone you don’t know, someone who is not intimate in any other way. Perhaps one’s brain can rationalize the ease of composure because it is a professional just like a doctor or dentist.

When the person “laying on the hands of healing” is a child you once carried within, breastfed, and whose body you once knew as intimately as your own, the tables turn. Suddenly, I thought of the fit, athletic mother she must remember. More than feeling shy by the slightly aged and slack body I confronted her with, I felt a sorrow that she would suddenly, physically know my age. My Wonder Woman cape is slightly frayed and the arms that were taut from lifting hay bales daily,  have now grown vaguely slack.

We started out very polite and careful. She asked me the questions she would ask any first-time client. “Have you had any recent operations or injuries? Is there anything in particular you would like me to focus on or areas you would like me to avoid?” I forgot to tell her about the misshapen pinky finger on my right hand that she would not be able to straighten. We worked through so many emotions and versions of ourselves in that hour.

For my birthday, Lex gave me the gift of my vulnerability, and I am honored.

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14 comments on “Vulnerability

  1. Touring NH says:

    What a wonderful gift. I know what you mean about the slight discomfort of the healing hands belonging to your child. I experienced the opposite side of the same coin when it was my healing hands caring for my mom. Your cape may be frayed around the edges but now, you have many other wisdoms and insights to share.

    1. Thank you Laura. Gifts of time with one’s children are so special.

  2. Fred says:

    What an interesting exploration you made that day with Lexi! I liked the image of revealing the chinks in the armor of Wonder Woman (or pulling back the curtin on the Wizard of Oz). We are all human – with our own special strengths and weaknesses.

    1. Thanks Fred! Great images, the curtain on the Wizard of Oz is perfect!!

  3. I don’t know if I could do that. I used to work across the hall from a massage therapist who often tried to get me on her table but I never did do it.

    1. It is an amazingly calm and healing experience once you let go! Thanks Allen!

  4. julieallyn says:

    Oh, but I’ve been away for far too long!

    This is wonderful, Martha. Your writing never, never fails to amaze and dazzle me!!!

    1. Aww Julie, thank you so much! Honored by your comments.

  5. Isn’t it amazing how our daughters can inspire us. Your writing has my attention.

  6. This session was truly a gift. (nice flower pix, too – perfect)

    1. Thanks Phil. I think we sometimes forget that the best gifts are those given of oneself.

  7. Marie Keates says:

    I know exactly what you mean about it being easier with someone you don’t know. My daughter in law is a massage therapist and does waxing etc. What a lovely gift.

    1. I would have to draw the line at waxing. Some things are better left a mystery, right?

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