From the first moment I shook her young hand to the moment I first spoke to her, found out her troubles and concerns, discovered her history as we spoke softly as I guided her to my massage table, and when she sat down on the edge tentatively, emanating nervousness and concern not just for lack of massage experience, but also due to the fetus growing inside of her young womb, I knew I was hooked on helping people.
Despite not knowing until later just how young she was, on the cusp of childhood and adulthood, no doubt barely out of high school, I knew there was something pure about her and it wasn’t just that unique and incredibly special pregnancy “new mother” energy about her. It was the young “I’m lost in the world and still trying to find my way”. At seven months pregnant, I can only imagine how hard her life is right now.
I’ve had two hours of prenatal massage training and I am nervous until the very moment I realize she is more nervous than I am, and as she tells me about her pains and her problems prompted and guided by my gentle questioning, I begin to realize… I can help her.
I talk her through the process so that she understands, I educate her through my training on the possible reasons for her pain and discomfort, she gets on the table under the sheets and blanket and I begin the massage. At first she is tentative, this is a whole new experience and I could, with a fair amount of accuracy, assess that it has been a very long time since anyone has touched her with any kind of care, or healing intent. This is far beyond muscle relaxation, far beyond the muscle releasing techniques to loosen the pull on her muscles and low back, it’s beyond my weeks of training and hours of prenatal training. This isn’t about the massage, it is about her, and it is about her baby, and it is about her quality of life, and how I could improve it.
This girl, who has probably not once relaxed in her entire life, finally began to relax. First her expression gently folding from one of trepidation to one of comfort, then her muscles following suit as they realize it’s ok to relax, and then… She fell asleep. With a slight smile on her face, taking deep breaths of comfort and security, something I could also safely say she is unaccustomed to.
With one of her hands on her baby belly, and her other hand in mine, she lets go of the worries in her life, at least for now, as I relax the muscles in her hand and gently break apart the fascia in her palm as tense as she used to be. With my gentle touch, I’ve told her muscles that it is safe, and it is ok to be relaxed and healthy. To me, this sight seems a miracle, and perhaps it was.
She confirmed to me later on that she was more relaxed, felt better and was in less pain. But the comfort still lingering on her face and in her eyes told me more than that. For once, if only just an hour in her young life… she felt safe.
And that is a sensation not to be taken for granted. But we all know that. I wish her the best in her life and her motherhood. And I am more than grateful for the gift she has given me of not just the ability to learn and practice what I was taught, but for showing me that strength has nothing to do with muscle mass. It has everything to do with letting go of your pain long enough to let someone hold your hand.