Why I’m not a massage therapist
You’ll have noticed that the word ‘massage’ is no longer visible on my site or online. People, I am no longer a massage therapist. Don’t freak out, I’m not re-training as an accountant, it’s more that what I actually do no longer fits the description ‘massage’.
Massage implies someone doing detached stroking, making everything better, easing away reality. It’s a nice lady, (usually, but not always a lady) sorting you out.
I am not a nice lady
I think perhaps I always wanted to be that nice lady, but I am not. For years I felt that massage would make my offering acceptable somehow and I built my practice under this banner. My real driver was slightly different; it’s always been in personal growth, first and foremost, to find ways to feel comfortable in my skin; no quick fix, no ten top tips, but many years of focus on trying to be present and easy with difficulty and tension. Offering space for other highly sensitive women to come home to themselves and feel comfy in their skin, just didn’t sound like a viable proposition. It’s just not that sexy.
But post menopause gap, I’m not compromising anymore. In short, I’m post-menopause, a baby crone with 25 years experience doing this stuff and it’s time to stop pretending to be nice and say what I do.
Here’s the breakdown on why I am no longer a massage therapist.
The trouble is that ‘sorting out’ bodies in this way is not an effective solution. In the long term, if you want real health, it’s awareness that will start you on the road to well-being. Coming into relationship with a grumpy shoulder and opening an inquiry into what it needs, will let you see how to make changes in your life that will address the root issue. The issue could be “I don’t feel safe in the world” and no amount of muscle work is going to change that belief, but awareness can. So instead of making people feel better, sending them off until their body gets all tight again so they can make another appointment, I help people engage with what is, to build awareness and the possibility of doing things differently.
Being tender with myself
‘Sorting out’ is exhausting. It requires me to use my precious hands to break up body armour. This hurts my hands. It wears me down.
Managing new clients’ expectations
‘Massage’ misleads new clients, they can come with the expectation of having their issues soothed away and feel annoyed when I am not meeting their expectations.
By staying with the conflicts and holding as they show up for you, rather than trying to sort them out, you can hang out and accept more of who you are. This is the ‘paradoxical theory of change’ in action; the Paradoxical Theory of Change arises from Gestalt theory, and states that “change occurs when one becomes what she is, not when she tries to become what she is not”. i.e. the more you try to change the more you stay the same. Isn’t that a bummer?? And yes I know that we all want to be fixed, hell I do too, but there’s still part of us that knows also, that healing is a complex, gradual process where we must take responsibility for ourselves. Dammit.
Being a massage therapist makes me the one who knows, the standing up person ‘who does to you’, the vulnerable lying down person. It can easily be a position of uneasy power over a client; boundaries get crossed, interpretations are made, a diagnosis hinted… It’s easy to be robbed of your authority and wisdom around your understanding of your body, unless we start to work together as colleagues. I can hold the space for you, I can do some stuff to support embodiment for you, the inquiry and the understanding of yourself is all yours.
I’ve decided that Intuitive Bodywork is a better way of describing what I do:
Intuitive because I use my somatic and felt experience of energy to understand more about what your energy needs to be able to move within you.
Bodywork because… well because that implies some kind of therapeutic touch and it was just a good enough word. I may well get phone calls about fixing up the family car, but that’s way better than getting phone calls about hand jobs.
If you want to know more about this might look like, here’s what Intuitive Bodywork means.