I need to make one thing clear: I really did injure myself. I’m not faking it. I don’t even have a good story to tell. I didn’t even blow out my thumbs doing massage therapy like every other injured LMT who’s been doing this as long as I had. Nope, I blew out my thumb during chiropractic med school internship, adjusting people.
I know for a fact that I didn’t hurt anyone else. In fact, I sacrificed my saddle joint so that I could keep the patient’s neck straight, avoiding rotation altogether. Of course, I didn’t realize the extent of the damage to my joint at the time. It didn’t even really hurt; it just felt…strained. And then sprained, kind of.
It was perfect timing, though. Well okay, not exactly; I had about 7 months of internship left and I kept re-injuring myself with every adjustment I gave. What was timely, though, was the fact that it was the perfect cue to start winding down the massage therapy practice. To this day, it serves as the perfect “out” (completely legitimate) when explaining why I don’t/won’t do massage anymore.
Nearly a year after I stopped massaging for good, I can confess, in case it wasn’t already obvious: I hated massage therapy. Oh sure, at the time, I thought I liked it. I was my own boss. I set my own hours. I got to interact with people. I got to make people feel better. And in the economically fruitful times of the mid 2000s, I stayed fairly busy and made decent money.
Then the quality of new clients took a nosedive. Why, I’m not sure I’ll ever know. I have several theories, but I’ll save those for another day. Serving my existing regulars was fulfilling, but dealing with prospective new clients became a pain in the ass.
And then there were the eerie, haunting phenomena that unleashed throughout the height of my massage career. I saw points of light, glitter, fireworks, colors, and shadows the size of raccoons. I heard noises, felt sensations, and endured nausea. And of course, there was the sadness, the anger, the frustration, the hopelessness, the desperation, the emptiness, and just about every other negative emotion you could stir into a downward swirl. It turns out I’m not alone in picking up on these little psychic nuances; our massage therapist has felt them, too. The difference is, she’s much better at handling them. I never learned to protect myself.
It penetrated every part of me, to the point where I in turn astrally contaminated every massage room I set foot in. It especially loved the mirrors, the corners of the room near the ceiling, and the mural paintings on the walls. Small shadows made a run for it through the soft light of the salt lights and candles, and I promise it wasn’t the flame flickering or dancing.
I didn’t realize how much damage it did and how much I really resented and despised giving a massage until getting my chiropractic license coincided with the realization that my thumb joint wasn’t going to heal, and it made for the perfect cataclysm. I had an out, and I took it.
Since then (and many other events), I’ve begun to heal. Of course, it helps to live away from the devoid murk of a place like Dallas, with its materialistic overcompensation for the severe lack of meaningful relationships and priceless joyful memories. It helps to be a doctor and focus on solving problems instead of nurturing them. It helps to set goals and hold patients accountable instead of simply rubbing muscles and providing a spa-like experience and ambient atmosphere.
I don’t blame massage therapy, nor massage therapy clients. I hold myself 100% responsible for choosing to remain as long as I did in a field that was increasingly incompatible with everything I stand for. I remain a big proponent of massage therapy; I’m just not cut out to provide it.
Save the fireworks for Independence and New Year’s Days, the glitter for the theater, and raccoons for the space under my parents’ porch. I’m long done.