Thursday, February 8, 2007

Body of Evidence

Since last Friday I have had two massages, a manicure, a pedicure and two trips to the dentist. Oh, Mark and I also held hands. This is more attention than my body has had in years. It did not respond well.

For my 50th birthday I decided to do something for myself. I scheduled a manicure and a pedicure. I do not paint my nails, any of them. I was taught painted nails were sinful. And at 245 painted nails seemed too little too late. I also worked with my hands and the polish always got chipped. Well, as I am now less worried about going to hell over finger nails, I thought why not?
Mark then comes home and says lets go to the hot springs for a couple of days to celebrate our birthdays. I am willing to "take the waters" because hot springs are usually full of people in worse shape than me. Okay so we go. We check into a hundred year old hotel which has not seen regular maintenance since WWII. No phone, no clock, no T.V. , no coffee maker, no little shampoos, no heat. The bed was bowl shaped and the sink was falling off the wall. The bureau had tickets in it from a concert in 1964. We had a wonderful time. We wrapped up in blankets and sat in the sun porch, drank hot chocolate and read. Bliss.

This strange establishment had been a sanitarium in a former life. There were little stretcher sized hot pools in the basement. Out of curiosity we went to check them out and ended up in the domain of the massage therapist. My back hurts continually from long years of excess weight and poor body mechanics. In a moment of nagging pain and hot chocolate induced euphoria I signed up for a massage.

The outdoor hot pools were an eye opener for me. I had not been since losing the last twenty pounds. My swimming suit did not fit. I ended up wearing my bra and a belt. This aside the water was heavenly. I sat in all the pools. In the final pool, in the back, next to the wall, was a woman in a black tee shirt. She was fat. She was up to her neck in the water. She was also hot and sweating. She was alone. Every now and then she stood up very fast and then sat back down. I stopped to visit with her. She was dizzy from being so hot. Why don't you get out I said. Oh I'm fine she said. I knew then. She would not get out of that damn pool until most of the people had cleared out. I am crying as I write this. It makes me so mad. Physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain of being judged a fat woman in a swimsuit. I hope she eventually got out. She was still there when we left.

The massage. Nude in front of someone other than Mark is new for me. How fat was I? How fat would she (massage therapist) think I was? Would she be disgusted at the remaining fat and baggy skin? Would I break the table? Why had I done this? The massage was a God send. The therapist pushed and pulled on all the right spots and asked all the right questions. For instance,"Did you know your burden mantle is almost six inches thick?" Burden mantel, the fat pad over my upper back and shoulders. Not all fat I was told, mostly bunched up muscles caused by bearing too many burdens. Yes I cried. "Did you know your right leg was shorter than your left leg?" Yes since those scoliosis checks in first grade. "Do you wear a lift in your right shoe?" No. "Why not? Your pelvis is rotated and your muscles are shortened on this side trying to cope with difference in length. Doesn't your back hurt?" Well yes, for years. A shoe lift. Why had I not thought of that? Because farm girls turned nurses do not complain, they just keep going, without shoe lifts. "Now this knot behind your scapula, do you have gallbladder problems?" Not anymore they took it out years ago. "Without your gallbladder bile collects in this area" (I am a nurse and I know bile does not collect behind my right scapula), "is anyone or anything galling you?" She pushed on the knot and a face immediately popped into my mind. This sort of thing went on for an hour.

I eventually stumbled out of her room and went upstairs. Per her instructions we went to the hot pools and soaked for an hour and then showered. I felt like a sleek cat. Nothing popped or cracked or hurt anywhere. I was in my body, and happy to be there. Turns out my nearest and dearest was also very happy to be near this newly relaxed self. A good time was had by all.

We drove home the next day in a snowstorm and most of the good body work was undone, but not what I had learned. I for the most part do not own my body, I just flog if from spot to spot. I live in my head. I have chronic neck and shoulder pain and tightness, "my burden mantle." I do not want to live anymore like this. I am ready to shed my burden mantle.

There is more to this "body of evidence." I will write the rest in the next letter. I have not yet covered the nails, second massage and the dentist. Gad what a week it has been. Take care of yourself.

Love Bea


Vickie said...

What you write - that is what yoga does for me - 4 times a week. . .

Charity said...

Oh...your trip sounds just wonderful! what a great massage've made me want to schedule one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Beu,

Ah, to have the fountain of youth! These are not guilty pleasures but acknowledgements of your self worth and self love. Which came first, the chicken or the egg. Do we self loathe and become fat, or are we fat and therefore self loathe? The girls are here for the garden party. Catch you later!
Love, Ethel

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