I saw F again on Tuesday, for Rosen/massage. It had been a two week break, and interestingly, considering I had only seen him twice before, I had really missed him during that time. I mean, it’s not that unusual for me, considering I can attach to anyone without much encouragement, but I had really been missing the space that he had created.
I knew even before I got to him that my muscles were SO sore, all through my neck, shoulders and upper back. I suggested that maybe we go for a balance between the Rosen and massage, because I was so sore.
The Rosen stuff was quite helpful, but I was so sore I was pretty distracted from connecting to anything. It definitely made the pain more noticeable, and I became much more able to pinpoint areas of pain, rather than just the generalised areas. F did turn me onto my front, and begin to work on my front, but I was really distracted with it, so I flipped back over, and we flipped into massage instead.
I love being massaged. I do almost nothing kind to my body, but the one thing I take true pleasure from is being massaged. When I was a little girl (and still now, sometimes), my dad would trace over my bare skin with his fingers, giving that goosebumpy, shivery feeling. He used to do it when I was stressed, tired, struggling to sleep or whatever, and even now, if I cannot sleep I will ‘draw’ on my arms or tummy. (Gosh, that’s such a lovely set of memories. Hmm.) As an adult, and really since seeing S, massage has taken a new, different and very welcome place in my life. Considering I find putting moisturiser on, or even brushing my teeth, difficult sometimes because it is too close to ‘self care’, it feels odd to me that I have embraced massage in this way, but I have. Wholeheartedly. I love the feeling of muscles being manipulated and stretched. I love any and all pressure, and I love the way it makes my body feel alive. But most of all, I love the release of it.
At one point in the session, F was working on my tummy, and we got talking about my self harm. My tummy is riddled with marks right now, and though I can’t remember exactly why, I began to talk about the significance of areas of self harm, and the importance it holds for me. Sometimes, it is punishment – and those marks are always in places that cannot be seen. Tummy, shoulders, thighs, breasts or between my legs. Then there are times where it is attention seeking/needing – those marks are always on places that can be made visible, like my wrists, ankles or hands. The marks themselves are very specific – I cut in crosses, or lines of 2 or 5. As I was talking, it became clear to me how much of my self harm is linked to my need for release. The important parts of self harming, for me, are seeing the blood pool and run, seeing flat, white skin become red, raised and patterned. The sick satisfaction I get from a pattern and order that, when things are starting to feel bad, I don’t feel I have in life.
It’s all about the release. Everything I do is. I have no distress tolerance, because I cannot hold in any needs or emotions. I need that immediate release so much more than any perceived benefit of waiting or controlling a need. Binge eating is all about release – finally allowing myself to give in to the voice. So is vomiting – allowing myself to literally become empty. So is sex (or self pleasure) – when things feel difficult for me, I crave being able to rise and then plunge off the edge. It’s not a positive, pleasurable thing, though, because safe sex with a loving partner doesn’t give me the release I have been taught of force and insistence. I cannot have that release with loving partners, but will seek out unsafe partners to force me into that release, retraumatising myself in the process. All of the things I have just listed are harmful things. Eating disorders, self harm, unsafe sex… they’re all harmful.
Massage is the only form of release I have that is a positive one. The enjoyment and pleasure (even when it hurts!) that I get from having the awful tension and pain released is just so wonderful, and a sign that I might, one day, learn to find other positive ways, too. F and I talked about how the Rosen doesn’t seek to force change, whereas potentially massage does – and there does need to be an awareness that I tend to force myself through things that hurt. But we found a wonderful balance, this week. Whilst laying on my front, F massaged my shoulders and neck and back and that really helped. He also, though, just laid his hands on my very lower back. I had no awareness of anything there, but he said it was boiling hot to touch, so I must have been holding something there. So we had this lovely balance between massage of my bastard, broken back muscles, and just a loving holding of whatever was in the small of my back. A release, in both ways, and perfection.
I’m back to being stiff as a board (vomiting my guts up for over 24hours certainly hasn’t helped), and very much craving a good massage this week. But I’m feeling immensely lucky to have found someone to work with what I need, even when I’m different and changing with every breath. I’m a complicated, hot mess most of the time, but I am very slowly learning to manage the needs of my body – finding release, without punishment, fear or pain.
…P.S. and yoga. Yoga is giving me this release, too. In my journal today, I drew myself in child’s pose, with colours for different feelings within myself (I posted it on here, one post back). But yoga is only about me, and I can force it and hurt myself when I’m struggling. Massage is about me and another – another who will not hurt me. There is safety in being held by somebody else, somebody who I trust not to hurt me, even when I have been bad, or gained weight, or been poorly, or [insert a million other reasons here]. There is safety in the partnership. Safety that I need so desperately.