Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Pleasure Principle

originally uploaded by Massage Austell.

Today I followed Boo's advice and went for a massage after work. I actually tried to do this yesterday, but the place I had used in the past apparently went out of business. In the past I would have taken this as an omen, and told myself to nix the idea of trying to take care of myself. These days, I see that if I don't start taking care of myself, I'm just going to fall apart.

It's funny that we often put a price limit on what we are willing to pay for something for ourselves. For some reason I tell myself that it is okay to pay for tangible things that I, or my family, needs, but somehow I shouldn't spend too much money on services such as massages. I seem to suffer from short term memory problems because after a wonderful massage, like today's, I tell myself that it is money well spent. Yet, in a week's time I tell myself that it's a luxury I can't afford.

So once again, here I am, writing to remind myself.

For 90 minutes today, I allowed myself to feel nurtured and cared for. I put myself into the capable hands of a well trained professional, who worked out all the knots and kinks that my body was storing. I laid there on the table, with the lights dim, a clean and calming fragrance in the air, and the sound of gentle and soothing music.

Relax...breathe...deep breath in...slow and steady release...

This is my mantra. I consciously tell myself these words as a way to give in to the pleasure. Relaxation is not always easy for me. It often takes work to let go of all that I carry. I have to remind myself that it is okay to let go, even if it is only for a short time.

Relax...breathe...deep breath in...slow and steady release...

Soon I find that I don't need to need to think, I can just be. I can be in the moment, allow myself to feel the sensation of connectedness with my body. I can allow my worries melt away. I can even put my grief aside, and trust that my world will be just fine. It will all still be there when I get up and head for home.

Of course I would be lying if I said that Michael was not drifting in and out of my mind. One of our favorite things to do was go for massages. Whenever we traveled we made sure to include a stay at a spa. I loved this about our relationship. We tried our best to make our time together peaceful and relaxing. Thinking about this makes me very aware of why I have avoided doing this since he has been gone. I think I feel guilty about enjoying such luxuries, enjoying such pleasures. Getting a massage is not the only thing that brings up these feelings. I find myself avoiding anything that Michael and I used to enjoy together.

I suppose it is yet another example of survivor's guilt. Who am I to enjoy life's pleasures when Michael is not able to? This is crazy talk, I know. I don't truly imagine that where ever Michael is, he is worrying about the earthly pleasures he left behind. I also know that he would want me to find pleasure in life, especially in the things we valued together. I know that this will all take time. Eventually I will start watching the television shows we enjoyed together. Eventually I will enjoy our favorite ice cream, meals, music, flowers, friends...the list just goes on and on.

For now it does take work. It takes work to experience pleasure. It is something I have to consciously choose to do. It's almost like going through pleasure rehabilitation. I am re-learning how to enjoy life. It is no longer something that comes naturally. It takes practice, it takes work.

Relax...breathe...deep breath in...slow and steady release...

When the massage ended I thanked the masseur for being so careful with my body. Of course he didn't know why my being touched, being nurtured, was so significant. Yet I wanted him to know that it was something of great value to me. It is part of my healing process. After getting dressed, and gathering up my belongings, I went over to the receptionist to pay for the service. As I got out my wallet she asked if I had been told about their winter special. If I pre-pay for five massages, they will give me three additional massages free. I took this as an omen, a message from Michael.

Say yes, it will be money well spent.


  1. i am glad you were able to go get the massage. i can close my eyes and imagine the warmth in the room, the soft music, and the pressure of someone's healing hands rubbing out all the toxic tension. i am going to save up some money for one. i'm quite hand to mouth these days and a massage is definitely listed under luxury, but i remember the ones my Dragon gave me and i gave to him. i gave him one once where afterwards he slept deeply and nightmare free for 12 hours. i felt so good watching him sleep. he woke so refreshed.

    you do need to take care of yourself. and i do believe your winter special rates were more a gift or hint from your Michael than a marketing tool for the spa or place or well, you know. i am glad you allowed yourself to "be." it's harder to do than it sounds.

    i also read your words as a comment somewhere else on one of our "friends" sites about the Camp Widow. it was not my belief that it was for women only. i thought it was Camp Widow(er). if it is something you believe you might want to try, you should look into it. i cannot believe that it would only be for women. the death of a spouse profoundly affects men as deeply as it affects women. if you wish, check into it. and try to come and meet us all.

  2. It is nice to see that a oomment from Boo led to this well-deserved luxury. And I hope it gets paid forward by your posting about it - maybe inspiring others to go about attaining their favorite luxury treatments. You are so on in stating that experiencing life's pleasures does not come naturally and has to be worked at. I've always felt very bitter about this. Why should we have to work harder at everything when we're in the middle of such pain? So I resisted nurturing and pampering myself. Your experience is making me see that sometimes in order to feel the pleasure again (even briefly) we have to throw caution to the wind and just do it. If we don't, we'll keep finding excuses.