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productive and worthwhile discomfort

Posted Mar 19 2011 2:06am

Earlier today I had the most (appropriate and safe) painful massage I've ever encountered.

Why am I telling you this? So you can feel sorry for me? Nope.

I'm telling you because as I was lying there wondering how on earth I could have ever thought this was a reasonable, let alone reasonable, idea, I was also thinking about the parallels between my situation and things like trying to recover from an eating disorder (yes, I totally get it that recovery from an ED is 6 million times harder than what I went through at the massage therapist's today... but bear with me for a minute and let me try to explain).

Once in awhile I get a massage. I really, super like those ones where it's relaxing and comfortable and you get to feel good while it's happening. Yeah, those are nice... and they are also fine to get, and worthwhile. And, that isn't what I needed this week. I needed real "massage therapy" not "relaxation massage" (or whatever that second thing would be called!). I have an old injury that gets all tight and problematic once in awhile, and it really does need to be worked on- or it just gets worse and worse.

But, geez, it's sooooo not fun.

So, I'm laying there and this lady's working on me. And she's obviously well trained (and she's licensed and experienced and all that good stuff- so I clearly know I'm in good hands) and knows her stuff. And just at the point where I'm ready to say to her, "you know, I made a huge mistake, why don't we just call it a day and I'll come back some other time (like maybe never!!!)" I think about how you guys participate in treatment.

Treatment can be exciting and interesting and rewarding. It's also just plain hard, and sometimes painful (you have to get right in there, find out what makes you tick, see who you really are...). As we all know, it's not really for the faint of heart.

I've been done with that massage for a bunch of hours now. I'm sore (and have said more than a few grumpy things in my mind to the poor massage therapist!)... and, I can feel how important it was to not skimp on what I needed, to not chicken out just because the massage was deeply uncomfortable (reminder, it was totally, 100% safe- I'm not at all encouraging any of you to take on or tolerate anything that is unsafe or bad for you- I don't want any of you saying to yourselves, "well, geez, Johanna endured that massage so if I'm good enough I should be able to endure (insert dangerous, unwise activity here...."). I can feel how right it was to put up with that deep discomfort because my muscles- all of them, including where the old injury is, feel like they got what they needed- the particular kind of attention they needed.

I'm thinking about you, Laura R, as you begin this new phase of work on yourself...and Wendy, next time you order something "out of the box" at a restaurant... and leanonme as you reach out for support even though it can be easier to be isolated and hope/pretend things are ok and you don't need support...and PTC as you grapple with what decisions you'll make that could affect your time with your therapist... and... well, and all of you, who keep pressing forward despite the significant discomfort that arrises when we go "deep" in our work- when we look toward choosing life and choosing to thrive.

It may sound silly, but where my old injury is, I can honestly say that place feels like it's thriving (and free) tonight like it hasn't been in months.

Will I have to keep up with the work on that place? Yup. Will it be hard to do so? Probably, at least some of the time. If I keep up with it though, the massage therapist promised me it wouldn't always be so painful to get it worked on... hmmm... I feel pretty certain she's correct about that. But I still told her I was probably going to be cursing her out in the morning.

She agreed I probably was going to be doing just that, and invited me to curse her out as much as I felt like! She rocks. I'll definitely be going back to her... well, maybe not TOO soon!



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