I like massages more than anyone I know. They are a requirement in my marriage, and without them I’m not sure my husband would ever get laid. But often I come out of professional massages more stressed than when I laid down on the table. You see, I like deep tissue massages – to me there’s no point to pay someone to pet me. My kids do that for free. Constantly. The contact never ends. So when the masseuse has limp hands even after I’ve checked the “deep tissue” box and written a polite, but forceful annotation reinforcing my proclivity for pain, I’m propelled into a terribly unrelaxed state in which I am both cursing my decision to try this hole-in-the-wall spa but also perpetually hopeful that the massage will improve. “Maybe she’s just warming up,” I’ll convince myself as I begin the process of waiting in anticipation which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite of the “mindfulness” I should be trying to cultivate. “Just do it!” I’ll think. “Speak up! Tell her you’d like a bit more pressure.” By this point I’m usually so worked up that I begin to worry if I’m sweating too much, so I also have to will her to turn down the heated bed. This in turn propels me into a deep state of body shame: how does my body measure up to her other clients? Is she repelled by my arm flab? Is she annoyed there is so much of me to rub or is it easier with more to squeeze? And how much time do I have left before I hear those 3 dreaded words, “Thank you, Jessie”? But inevitably the massage always ends and I’ll drink the cucumber water, smiling, unsatisfied, but tipping the masseuse nonetheless…

You know that feeling at the end of a yoga practice during chavasana when you should be meditating but really you keep peeking open your eyes to see where the instructor is so you can will her to pick you for the “hands-on assist,” and when she chooses the skinny yogi to your right who clearly didn’t have to work as hard to complete the class, you say “fuck it,” and pack up your mat and leave early? Yeah, me neither…

Though my feet currently look 50 years beyond their age, I have rather enjoyed avoiding my typical pedicure anxiety during this pandemic. It’s been nice never having a reason to shave my legs. No one has passive-aggressively shamed me about picking my toenails and making their job more difficult. And I haven’t had to worry that I might contract HIV via unclean pedicure tools.

Published by imworriedmytherapisthatesme

I'm a history-PhD-turned-stay-at-home-mom of three. When I'm not microwaving Trader Joe's meals for my kids, breaking up fights and wiping butts, I like to paint and write. To cope with the endless hours I'm spending with my son doing virtual school, I've abandoned my gouache paints for the more portable, less messy tried but true, paper and ink. While he learns to read to 20 floating heads on his screen, I sit on a tiny chair, at a tiny table pretending to be a productive adult.

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