I started using my therapy funds for monthly massages soon after my therapist and I agreed to cut back on our sessions. Figuring a massage could only help me cope with my chronic anxiety, I eagerly signed the six-month contract. Anyone out there with anxiety knows the butt-clenching, gut-wrenching, muscle-achy discomforts of a typical day. Medical studies show that massage helps reduce tension and stress while increasing the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Sounds great, right? I thought so too. But then my brain worked it’s magic to sabotage my brilliant plan. You see, what all the Web MD and Mayo Clinic articles neglect to mention is how stress-inducing the experience actually is. Don’t get me wrong, the massage part feels amazing and I am very grateful for them. But the situation is that you’re walking into a dark room, introducing yourself to a stranger, stripping off your clothes, climbing underneath a sheet, and granting them access to everything save your genitals.
There are only two other scenarios in my life when I would allow anything similar to happen. One involves an established and trusted female MD. As I tend to ruminate on unplanned pregnancy, HPV, AIDS, and potential toilet STDs, I will happily go through a routine gynecological and breast exam to receive my birth control and peace of mind for the following year. The second scenario involves a skinny nerd, a glass of wine, a particularly provocative Game of Thrones episode, and well, you get the idea.
I scheduled a massage for today and it begins in less than an hour. I’m sure ten to fifteen minutes in, I’ll relax and begin to enjoy it. I’m certain I’ll remember that there is a reason I keep going back. But right now, my butt is clenched, my leg muscles are tightly flexed, and my stomach butterflies are taking flight. I’m also suddenly very aware of my stubbly leg hair and toe hair.Can they tell how little I work out or if maybe I’ve been working out incorrectly? How embarrassing if I can’t even walk or jog correctly. Should I shower first to be polite? What if I accidentally become aroused and they can tell? What if I fart?
Damn it. I think I need to call my therapist.