Thursday, November 16, 2006

Uncomfortable

So, I woke up yesterday with some extreme back pain in my shoulder area. At first it was a constant dull ache, but as the day progressed the pain became shooting. It hurt to raise my arm and there were many points where I yelped out in pain. At bed time, Daniel helped me by surrounding me with pillows - in front of my stomach, behind my back, between my knees. I was a pillow taco. Hmmm. That's a weird phrase I will try never to use again. Anyway, I woke up this morning and the pain had not magically disappeared so Daniel called and made me an appointment for a prenatal massage for this afternoon.

Now I've never had a full blown massage before so I didn't know what to expect, really. I expected dim lights, pleasant scents, (I was hoping for lavender)and relaxing music. I thought there might even be a rock fountain, but I was hoping not because the sound of water would probably make me think I had to pee constantly. I thought I would lay on the table and close my eyes. I worried a little that I might fall asleep and in the process drool on my pillow. I was excited. A nice, relaxing prenatal massage was going to help the pain in my shoulder. I was going to feel rejuvenated once the hour was up.

It's probably best not to put too many expectations on things.


Oh, the lights were dim, the music relaxing. The room smelled nice...some floral scent. There was no fountain, but this was sort of a relief. Initially, I did lay on the table and close my eyes - until my massage therapist started talking.

"Do you work?"
"I do photography and theatre, but basically no."
"Oh, that's nice. You get rest. I wish I get rest when I pregnant."
"Yes. It's nice. This is my first pregnancy and I feel so worn out. Everything is so new and different."

And I think right there is when I opened the can of worms. My massage therapist went on to tell me that she farmed for the first three months of her pregnancy...in Vietnam. When she could no longer farm, she was forced to cook for all the farmers. When she could no longer do that, she sewed hats for the farmers...all day. She told me that she only had one child and she would never, ever have another. She told me she was sick for all nine months of her pregnancy. She told me the gory and very upsetting details of the hard birth and pretty much scared the crap out of me. And then I told her I was sorry and tried to close my eyes.

But she continued. She told me about her arranged marriage and how she only shared the "marriage bed" with her husband once before he was taken away and killed. A month later she found out she was pregnant. She told me about the horrors of war (in detail) that she witnessed. She spoke of her screaming baby and how she and the child were kicked out a hiding space because she could not calm her child because of the guns and bombs...so she ran through the fields and jungle seeking shelter. It was horrifying and I felt horrible for her.

The thing is: I'm a good listener. I am sensitive and open minded. I'm good at letting people talk and not interjecting my own thoughts too much so that they feel comfortable. But I have never had to listen to things like this before. I found myself nodding, telling her I was sorry, etc....but also wanting her to just stop. I felt guilty for just wanting to get to relax and be pampered. I felt selfish that I wanted to jump up and run for the door and ask someone else to help me. In a different venue, I would have been better...more open to listening. It just felt so uncomfortable and strange to be lying on a table pretty much naked being massaged by a woman as she told me of all the horrors she's faced. I didn't feel like I belonged there. I felt tense. I felt like I shouldn't be paying for an hour of this. And that made me feel even more selfish and spoiled.

When it was over, I felt so relieved to be out of there. As Daniel walked me to the car, he asked me how it was. I told him (with even less detail than I'm giving you) what had happened. I felt bad that something he'd set up for me to be a good experience turned out the way it had. On the drive home I thought about saying nothing to the managers of the place, but decided other women shouldn't have to sit through that. While I feel like that woman needs to talk to someone (preferably a therapist of some sort) I don't think the people that she gives massages to should be involved. So I called a few minutes ago. I told the manager what happened while also complimenting the lady on the massage. I over compensated with the complimenting because I didn't want to make her look incapable, but I did explain how uncomfortable I was and that my experience was definitely hindered by her inappropriate stories. I told her this was my first massage and that I will not look back at this as a pleasant experience at all...in fact it's difficult for me to get the images of this woman's life out of my head. She curtly thanked me for my "input", said she would talk to the woman and then she hung up on me. Now, I didn't want a refund. I had already decided I would just never go back there again. I just really thought the lady would be more sympathetic and maybe even apologize. But as I said before:

It's probably best not to put too many expectations on things.

No comments: