Recently one of my clients wrote before his massage to warn me about his feet. They had done many hard things in the days preceding his visit and were battered and blackened. He quite sweetly wanted to give me a chance to bail on them – he was worried that their suffering would be too ugly for me which, of course, it wasn’t and which I totally get.
I’ve apologized to massage therapists for my feet which are rarely shod and could most generously be described as “rugged”, and for my legs which are the legs of a mammal and therefore grow hair. I’ve even apologized for my tight shoulders which I’m well aware are doing my massage therapist a favor by being tenaciously prone to bunching.
Getting massage is a little scary. We’re rarely touched in this culture, even by people we love, and suddenly there you are in a room with a stranger with your face in a face cradle and your clothes on a hook. It’s hard not to tick off all the things she might be judging you for – all the things for which you’ve secretly given yourself low marks. Muscle tone in upper arms – 6 out of 10. Will she notice?
She won’t. If she’s me, at least. And if she does she’ll find it perfect regardless – or because. (Another thing she won’t do is speak about herself in the third person again, unless she has to. For example – if she becomes the Queen…)
So, just to make things perfectly clear, I’ve composed a partial list of Things I will Not Find Ugly and For Which I Will Not Judge You:
- wounded toenails
- stretch marks
- scars of any kind
- hair or the absence of hair
- tattoos you now regret
- soft places
- bumps, lumps and other fleshy adornments
- limbs that won’t go floppy even when I say “can you make that be floppy?”
- skin that sweats or has recently sweated
- snoring (I’ll find this highly flattering)
- drooling (also flattering)
It’s a gift and a joy, your willingness to lay on my table. I often marvel at it. Your body could not be more perfect or more brave and I tell it that every time you come over. I hope it knows how I feel about it. I understand that it might take a bit longer for your brain to catch up, but I’m very patient (about things like this – in traffic I’m a crazy Bostonian). And we can add things to this list whenever you have a doubt.