The Healing Power of Touch

One of the greatest pleasures of adulthood is having the autonomy to spend your money as you see fit. This past years’s isolation led many people, including myself, to examine where the line of their wants and needs converges, and then buy the shit out of everything they could possibly want.

Peloton had a banner year (I didn’t research this but if you’re super worried about their 2020 sales I’m sure there is an annual report or a press release somewhere out there) and those 12 foot tall skeletons sold out at hardware stores everywhere. And while neither of these things had much appeal (I went the fancy coffee maker route, thank you very much!) I definitely had a hole that needed filled.

One weekend, in the middle of a chaotic project at work after having been home, alone, for six months I pulled up Yelp and went searching. I found a spa with an inviting name, decent prices, and a sketchy address and booked myself a massage.

Friends had joked that based on the address of the spa I may be presented with some off menu options, so in the spirit paying workers what they’re worth, I took out extra cash from the ATM and went into the experience with an open heart.

I didn’t get a happy ending, instead my touch starved body was given the healing power of touch.

I would recommend message to anyone, because of the health and happiness that an elbow in the top of your ass can bring, but I will warn you that finding the right massage therapist can be a bit tricky. You may need to examine you’re own prejudices and expectations before getting nuded up in a closet sized room with a stranger. Let me help you through this journey.

Do you like to talk?

Talking durning a massage is very personal, sometimes chatting about some stranger’s kids learning to walk while his parents were off doing peyote is fine, sometime you just want complete silence so you can hear the slip and slap of oily flesh, but you need to know what you can handle. Maybe you’re just not interested in the deeper philosophical meaning of Chuck Palahnuik’s best works, and that’s ok. Can you tell your massage therapist that or do you need to move on to someone who communicated differently? Maybe a grunt, tug, and tickle is more your speed. So find someone who can do that for you.

Are you cool with cults?

When you’re working with people who are into holistic health, you may encounter folks whose spiritual journeys have led them less conventional places. Are you able to let the words of their spirits leader bathe you while you’re being rubbed down or will it make you tense? What if, and this is the scary part, they try to convert you? While my personal preference is that all attempted conversions happen with pants on you may feel differently.

Are you comfortable with your sexuality?

Getting a message most likely involves you naked and being touched by another person. And while some massage therapists may actually offer sexual satisfaction at the end of the session (please pay these people well, no one wants to jerk you off for free), many don’t, which can be confusing. Are you ok being aroused by someone old enough to be your mother? Or by someone who isn’t the gender you consider yourself attracted to? What if you had a sexual encounter with your neighbor who had no idea what the hell was going on and you have horrifying hickeys in places that you like to have worked out? Can you live with the embarrassment of telling them so they avoid further injury? What about the slut shaming?

Do you need to be politically aligned with your therapist?

While it’s probably less surprising to find an anti-vaxxer massage therapist than it is an anti-vaxxer doing your ultrasound for your cardiologist, they’re everywhere and much like the folks who believe the wiggity-woo of virgin spiritual superiority they’re going to talk to you about it. They’ll probably also going to share some of their other thoughts, maybe about the government or something government adjacent like a conspiracy theory about city bus drivers. Maybe you’re into this, great you’ve found your man. But if not, is this the deal breaker?

Are you comfortable networking with this person?

Everyone is selling something. Sometimes with a massage therapist it’s an add on like hot stones or weed deliveries. Maybe it’s an affiliate chiropractor or shaman. If you’re lucky it’s entry into their church. But you need to consider if this is the pitch you can live with, and are you willing to let it into your network. If someone asks for a recommendation can you, assuming you like the person asking, recommend this therapist in good faith?

In my experience, you can put up with a lot for the right masochist to work the knots out of your glutes, but this is your experience, and you need to decide for yourself if you’d rather have an unvaccinated virgin sharing her thoughts on your 40 year penance but also does the ear thing or if you want the weed dealing former Marine who doesn’t know muscles from bone but somehow manages to make your feet feel better. If you need additional guidance on finding the right person for you, please comment.

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