Rough day today. Yesterday and today were Bad Ones. No matter, there were moments of good, and that’s what you focus on. (Easy to say now, rather than earlier today when I was losing my mind again and Dana kept talking me down, talking me down…)
Anyway, I’ve said/written a lot today, and there’s not enough left that needs to be spilled here. And so, I will post something I wrote yesterday. Interestingly, it neatly mirrors something an acquaintance wrote in her LJ today.
Over time, I learn more and more the extent to which our bodies, mine in particular, obviously, are scrap books, journals, records of life. Our skin bears witness to our experiences and injuries. Our eyes are the windows into everything. We feel pain from limbs we no longer have. Our muscles have their own memory. But it goes beyond that.
Back in high school drama class, I remember our teacher referring to the belly as “the swamp”. We keep emotions there. Memories, pain, nostalgia, longing. It is not uncommon to be able to make someone cry by rubbing that person’s tummy. Think about it, what a basic, early life thing to do – just what mommies do when you’re crying or sick. What an intimate thing for someone to do.
Think about where you keep your stress – neck, shoulders, back, stomach. For several years I was afraid of massages. When stressed, I tense up through the neck and back down to about the base of my shoulder blades. The first time I booked a professional massage was when we were going through layoffs at work. Now, layoffs were an annual tradition. I don’t remember if these were the first major ones I’d been through or what, but I was TENSE. What resulted was quite possibly the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Now, let’s clarify that. I am a person with a ridiculously high pain threshold. I was a very clumsy child. I have been cut, burned, have fallen, and have had digestive issues my whole life, which often feel like someone with red-hot pliers is trying to shred my intestines. I have been tattooed four times, on several locations noted for being more painful than others. I have been pierced through an area that has one of the body’s higher nerve ending concentrations. But this – this woman prodding and kneading my muscles, nearly brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe that was how it was supposed to feel, that you had to go through that to relax. My God. Afterwards, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Sore, aching, and bruised. I was covered in bruises. There were finger marks on my arms and neck. No, this is not how it’s supposed to be. A couple/few years later I had a head and neck massage. I honestly don’t remember how it was. It was on the last day of our “Sales Kickoff” for work, and I’d been getting two hours or less sleep each night for a week. I was no longer human. I was delirious. When I got home I threw up and then slept for 17 straight hours. So, yeah, didn’t really help me much.
Since then, I have learned to appreciate good massage, though my experience with professionals remains very limited. I have very sensitive skin, particularly on my head and neck and around my shoulders – the most common areas someone goes for if they intend to massage you. I have to make sure to tell people what’s good or what’s too hard. It is true that women touch men how they want to be touched, and men do the same. I have been told, however, that I touch like a man, which is why my back rubs have typically been very popular with my lovers. (It’s something I missed a great deal with Andrew – an intimacy we were denied, an opportunity to learn his body lost.) However, most men react very badly when they realize they’ve visibly injured you unintentioanlly (which is unfortunate, because sexual nipping is fun sometimes, but once they see a bruise, they basically swear off touching you). It’s ironic that lovers tend to become averse to touching me in certain ways, particularly in the neck area, because touching me there is probably the best way to relax me, to start arousing me, to allow me to sink into the sensual, to give me a fully sensual and sexual experience.
One kind of massage I’ve been curious about is lymphatic drainage massage. The point of it is not so much muscle relaxation, but draining the lymph nodes, where toxins and such build up, swelling occurs, etc. I’ve been losing weight rather rapidly recently (somewhere between 15 and 20lbs in less than three weeks), and I am cognizant that a lot of fat-soluble crap is and will be released into my body – pharmaceuticals, hormones, toxins, chemicals, and who knows what all else. It will affect my mental and physical state, I’m sure. Exercise, lots of water, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies will help, but the lymphatic draining massage is something I’m considering. I’m told it will make me feel like crap for a couple of days, until the toxins are released from my body, but that it feels great afterwards. We’ll see.
Exercise has been very good for me the last while. It gives me something to focus on other than emotional misery. It distracts me; it gives me control. I can push my body hard and make it feel good. Make my heart and muscles stronger, shed this blanket of fat under which I’ve existed for so long. That’s something else my drama teacher talked about one time – body shape, size, and image. How we come to be at weights and sizes that are comfortable and safe. We may be overweight, but that might be just the amount of padding we need to hide behind, to keep between us and the world. For me, the idea of shedding this padding is, to a degree, a statement of control over my body, and I will have to be careful of that sentiment, since that’s how eating disorders get started, and I’ve been, to some degree, down that road before. It is also a shedding of the comfortable, though, which is going to be very complex for me to work through. “Comfortable” is what doomed my relationship with Andrew. Comfortable is why I wouldn’t bother shaving my legs for weeks, or didn’t do anything with my hair even though I didn’t like it, or whatever. The thought of he doesn’t care and it won’t make any difference in our relationship is powerful, and dangerous. And so now I need to care. I need a face and body I like. I have felt beautiful. It’s powerful. I haven’t felt it in too long. I need to be attracted to me, so I can feel others attracted to me. I will need that attention to heal. To grow some hope. Self-loathing isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, and I don’t like it. It also grew out of a time of relationship stagnation and problems that were never addressed, so I have even more incentive to conquer it.
This is not to say, however, that I will not wallow from time to time. And that my swamp will not store for me the memory of this time years down the road. To quote Sherry, “I am what I was”.