Friday, 16 September 2011

Massage to self

If men had stretch marks they'd be showing them off to everyone like battle scars. Vying to see who’s more manly: who’s got the deepest grooves, who’s spreads the farthest. Instead, the other half human kind (that's us women) shamefully cover them up and spend a lot of money on very small pots of creamed chemicals to try and make them vanish.

This thought occurred to me as I was giving myself a massage last night. This is a first for me. I sometimes vigorously apply moisturiser all over myself and I have more rarely perched on the toilet seat and kneaded my feet for a couple of minutes. But I had never, until last night, given myself a proper massage.

After the shower I was about to start giving my thirsty skin some respite when I was distracted by my reflection in the full length mirror behind the bathroom door. I was quite shocked to catch myself thinking "Well. You're officially sagging now. It's all gone to pot. It doesn't look sexy. How could anyone fancy you?"

I had a brief tussle with my gremlin, very brief. I said something to the effect of: "This is unkind, unhelpful and untrue. Too many Uns. Shut it"

And then I decided to treat myself with a little more respect. I looked at the bottle of oil my hand and wondered what it would be like to massage it into my skin - slowly and deliberately - instead of slapping it on and rubbing it in like a washer woman attacking a particularly stubborn stain.

A few years ago I trained to become a Thai Yoga massage therapist  with the lovely Kira from (the appropriately named) School of Thai Yoga Massage. I love the way it covers the whole body, from tip to toe and how it incorporates gentle stretches. Now it's not easy to give yourself a proper Thai yoga massage standing up naked in front of the mirror so I stuck to more Western moves and I think I managed something decent. It certainly felt fantastic.

The whole thing probably lasted no more than 10 minutes but for those 10 minutes I was completely focused on my body. While my fingers and palms went to work smoothing, stroking and kneading I monitored my thoughts closely - making sure I stayed away from judgements, criticism and snide comments. I observed my body in the mirror and took stock of the changes I noticed making sure I stuck to neutral and factual descriptions.

I noticed soft folds of flesh on the inside of my thighs. I noticed a long scar just above my pubic bone. One side is thin and even whilst the other is red and bumpy. I saw a round, smooth belly which swells out and which is striped with stretch marks on the sides just above my hips. I noticed some fine wrinkles around my eyes and a deeper, vertical one running down the space in between my eyes. 

By the time I was finished my body was oiled and smelled of cinnamon and I felt more relaxed and at peace with myself than I have done in a long time. I went to bed and slept like a baby.

Message to self: more massage to self please.

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