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Massages, Part 2

You know those dreams you have where you’re naked in public?  For me I’m usually taking a shower outside, and once I realize it I’m like, what the heck?  Why am I out here?  There are people right over there!  Oh well.  I’ll just pretend it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. 

There are lots of theories for why we have dreams.  The two most common theories are that dreams reveal unconscious conflicts and that dreams are just a by-product of neurons firing in our brain and mean absolutely nothing.

While I think both of these theories are sometimes true, I have a 3rd theory:  sometimes dreams are dress rehearsals for our emotions to prepare us for unusual events.  For example, it’s not often that we have an occasion to run for our lives from zombies.  So dreams can be a useful way for end-of-the-world enthusiasts to prepare for the zombie apocalypse without inconveniencing the rest of us.

But what does this have to do with massages, you ask? 

I had my massage today, and it did not go well.  I drank a decaf coffee beforehand because I have GERD and I’m not supposed to have caffeine.  Or chocolate.  Two of my most favorite things in the world.  Usually I just have them anyway, but my acid reflux has been acting up lately so I behaved myself.

I went to the bathroom before my session because another one of my many annoying health problems is that sometimes I have to pee a lot.  Like every 30 minutes or so.  Especially if I’ve had coffee.  But it was decaf today so I figured one pee should be sufficient.

But no.  Apparently, there is something else in coffee that makes you have to pee, so I had to go badly during the massage.  I kind of have mini panic attacks whenever I have to pee and cannot get to a restroom but I was determined to stay the course and finish my massage.  So I tried all my psychological tricks to keep me focused, but to no avail; I wasn’t going to make it.

Unfortunately, the place where I get my massage has no restroom.  They share a space with a real estate agency next door, and that’s where the restroom is.  So once I gave in and told her I had to pee, she gave me a robe and I walked barefooted into the real estate agency and peed as fast as I could.  Usually I don’t see anyone when I go in there but of course there was a woman at her desk with a clear view of me looking like I’m about to jump in the shower.  Oh, and there were people in the front office of the massage place, too.

 It felt very much like the naked in public dream.

After my massage they apologized for not having a restroom but at least they don’t have to pay for that space, ha ha ha!  Whatever.  Not a relaxing massage at all, obviously.

Luckily I’ve had some practice for publicly humiliating experiences so I decided to blog about it instead of curling up in a ball and hiding from the world.

Olindapully Photography (

Massage: Stress relief?

Last year around this time I started having neck pains so severe that they were affecting my sleep. Because I’m used to ignoring pain, it took me a few weeks to realize that it might help to massage the back of my neck.  Once I did this I found a big lump and I freaked out.  I have a friend who had Cushing’s disease and she had a lump in the back of her neck, so I worried that maybe I had that.  Or maybe I had a tumor.  It was the weekend before Labor Day and there was no way I was going to get in to see a doctor right away so I saw my boss, who is the physician at our health center.

Much to my relief, she said the knot in the back of my neck was from stress and gave me some strategies for dealing with it.  She said that after a few days it should be better.  But it wasn’t getting better.  So I decided that I better up the ante and get a 30 minute massage.  But instead of finding the instant relief I was hoping for, I found out that my entire upper body was so tight that it would take her several sessions just to get to the deeper muscles.

The whole getting a massage to reduce my stress thing became another cycle to agonize over just like sleep.  It was clear I needed massages; sometimes I could feel my muscles tensing up later that day after I had just gotten one.  So at first I had to go weekly, and then every other week.  The only problem is I don’t have money to get massages regularly, so I would obsess the entire time about how much it was costing me.

I would try not to.  I would try to do what I tell my clients to do–focus on the experience of it, focus on where she is touching you.  This is your time to relax.  This is making your money count.  You deserve this–need this–to function.  But I’m really, really, obsessive.  In fact, somehow even though I wasn’t saying anything out loud, my massage therapist could tell that I was obsessing the entire time.

We finally worked out a schedule where I got a discounted rate since I have to go so regularly.  And I put the max into my flex spending account and have a doctor’s note saying that I need the massage for my neck pain, which has helped me stop obsessing about the money.

But I obsess about other things during my massage, too.  It’s stressful scheduling one because once the semester starts, I have appointments every hour with just 10 minutes to get things done in-between.  I would get my massage at 9 and then rush back for my 10 o’clock appointment.  And then I would see back-to-back clients.  By the end of the day I was stressed again.

The other problem is that my muscles are so tight that even weekly massages are not enough.  I need to stretch every day, several times a day.  Especially my chest muscles.  And I should be doing yoga.  I actually have massage homework.

I hate yoga.  Well, maybe that’s too strong of a word.  I recommend it to clients all the time for relaxation/meditative purposes.  It just never seems worth doing to me, personally.  I’m used to focusing on exercise that is fun, burns calories, or builds muscle.  I stretch after these activities, but stretching just for the sake of flexibility and stress management?  Boring!  Even though feeling my chest muscles release after stretching was an eye-opening experience, I cannot motivate myself to do yoga.  Not to save money.  Not to reduce stress.  Not for anything.  So I just feel guilty and stress about it every day that I don’t do it.

But I try.  I’ve always been a good student, always done my homework, so I do make an effort.

Last night I was in bed by 12:30 and did my nightly routine. I made coffee and packed food so I could save money.  I got my massage and scheduled another one in two weeks.   It wasn’t too busy of a day, but on the way to my tennis match I was so tired I was falling asleep at the wheel.  It started to rain and I was actually thankful that we had to reschedule.  When I got home around 8:30 I fell asleep on the couch and didn’t wake up until 1:30 am, at which point I had to get up and do my nightly routine.  Still an exhausting day.

But on the bright side, I did fall asleep early.  And I’ve already gotten about 5 hours of sleep in.  And I finished another blog.  So that’s something.

Olindapully Photography (