Friday, September 3, 2010

Do You Choose to Suck It?

Finally, my moment had come. I was sprawled on the table. The air smelled fresh. There was a scent of lemon and echninacea lacing its way through the cool still room. The lights were dim and sunset was peaking its way through the sheer, plum blinds. My sister wasn't far…we were separated by a curtain. It was just me and a big, strong Jamaican man.

And then it started.

As I was getting ready to let out my first "ahhhh" of surrender, instead a big "UGHHHHH" escaped.

SHIT! This massage therapist SUCKS!

Oh noooo! But I've been waiting so long for this.

My shoulders and my knots! The long, long nights of writing my thesis! All the build up was ready and excited to be released by this man. Oh how I had hoped he had magical hands. Instead, with every stroke, I found myself getting frustrated.

Here's what was going through my mind (sounds a bit split personality when written out - but I know you can relate):

Dude, you don't know what you're doing do you? Do you know what muscle you're working right now? You can actually damage my little shoulder blade right now. Are those yours nails I feel in in my skin?

Okay, Stella, chill out. Relax. Focus on your breath and maybe you'll just get into it. Even a bad massage is still good, right? Just speak up and let him know how to adjust.

"Sir, I can feel your finger nails in my skin. Would you mind softening up?"

Of course! Of course! He says.

See, Stella. This man is so nice and he just wants to please you and help you. Just breathe. Use this as a practice for meditation.

Oh my god. But this guy doesn't know what he's doing. Now I'm really sure.

So what should I do, stop this? I've never had to stop a massage.

Once he moves up to the back it will get better. Just hang in there.

Hang in there? But this is supposed to feel good and I'm coaching myself through this. WTF?

Chill out, Stella. Acknowledge these thoughts, but focus on your breath.


Did he hands just squeeze my neck so hard that my air passage was slightly blocked?

Yes. Ok. That's it. I'm stopping this.

But it will hurt his feelings. He seems so nice and is doing his best.

So what? You have to do what's right for you. And if you stop, maybe he'll realize he should go back to school or communicate more with his clients. This may help him in some way.

But maybe in Jamaica they don't have such rigorous training. Maybe he needs this job really bad and I might get him in trouble. You only have 20 minutes left.

Are you really having this conversation right now?


And I feel more tense than when I came in. This is not serving me.

I sat up. Sir, I'm sorry. This does not feel good to me at all. I'd like to stop this.

It was hard to face him after the massage. But I did. I thanked him for what he had done and said it just was not right for me. The staff asked, so I gave some constructive feedback.

Without my saying a word, I got another massage therapist immediately for an hour. She was great. I still spent some of the time battling between slight guilt for shocking the young man on his performance, and pride that I did what served me best.

The lesson we all know, but that got further affirmed through experience is: if I don't stand up for what I need, who will? So my question to you is... do you suck it up and accept less-the-best for you? If you asked for medium-rare and it's well-done, do you send it back? It's sometimes harder to choose higher and ask for it...especially, if it doesn't come the first time around. But know that asking for what you deserve isn't bad or mean as long as you do it with good intention and grace. This is about justice, people!

I'd love to hear stories or comments about choosing or not choosing to suck it up. Do share!



  1. Oh this made me laugh - I can't count how many times I've had the same internal dialogue and I *always* choose to suck it up. I hate to hurt someone else and let them know that the service was not satisfactory, especially with something so personal as a massage. Though your story might give me courage next time to speak up and get my money's worth - and the satisfied relaxing feeling that we go into massages for!
    All the best!

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  3. Stella,

    I love the insight and humor with which you write. Yes, we are so often afraid of speaking our truth. The typical scenario I hear about in my couples coaching practice goes like this:

    He wants so badly to please her in bed. He whips out all these moves he's heard about in Maxim magazine and goes over the top to give her a real porn-worthy experience. He's a bit insecure and too focused on 'getting it right' to actually enjoy himself, but hey, she doesn't seem to be complaining, and at the end of the day, it's for her pleasure, right?

    Meanwhile, she's hating what he's doing. He looks like a mad clown. But she loves him and wants to please him, and he seems to be so engrossed that she feels that if not for her, at least be there for him - donating her body, if you will, for his pleasure.

    So, no one's happy because no one's communicating their truth. It would be so much simpler if he just asked, if she just spoke up...

    But then, on another note, I wonder when it's appropriate to suck it up. I don't drink alcohol or very much care for the party scene and my boyfriend's a devoutly cultural Irishman. We've spent days apart simply because I've wanted to go chant Om with a bunch of hippies and he's wanted to talk about sports at the bar and neither of us would compromise our 'lifestyle'- as if the weekend would never come again.

    Then last Thursday, he went with me to hear this prominent Tibetan monk speak. He grumbled all the way there but halfway thru started nodding his head and fervently taking notes. Afterward we went to a diner. (I'm an organic raw foods vegan! I nearly died just walking in). But then the monk walked into the diner! It was already 10:30pm, and I thought, if a monk can be here, so can I. So I drank half a beer, had some lettuce with french fries on the side, and didn't drop dead. I just told myself that I would surrender to the experience and I did. And when we got home my lover was so impressed with my open-mindedness that he gave me a very sensual massage for nearly an hour, which probably got all the beer and fried food toxins out of my system anyway.


  4. Hi Stella! How many times has probably everyone on this planet goner through a similar experience whether it be with a massage,an over done steak, a hurried doctor with terrible bedside manners, a waitress/waiter with little to no skills or whatever the case may be. The way I look at it you can either suck it up for fear of looking like a demanding ungrateful nag or say something.

    I personally used to suck it up but for many years now I speak up. And I don't mean being obnoxious or rude but polite and direct. The other day some friends and I went to a new restaurant and the cute waitress that came to our table acted as if it was a bother she had to wait on us. I tracked down another waitress who was smiling and having a good time at her job. We moved to her section.

    I am a big advocate of voicing your opinions BUT in a non demanding way. The words you choose and the tone you use makes a huge difference. It's not only WHAT you say but also HOW you say it. So next time you're in a similar situation SPEAK UP BUT SPEAK NICELY!

  5. Hi Lisa,
    I know how you feel! And I know you have the courage to do get what you deserve. Thanks for sharing your experience. Wishing you great massages that don't require anything but praise!
    Much love,

  6. Cahla, Thanks for sharing such a total parallel situation. It is about standing up to your truth and also being sensitive and flexible enough to knowing when it's right to open up to a new truth or stick to your guns.

    LOVE the eye candy on your site. GORGEOUS!


  7. Hi Dr. G!

    You're so right. Like we say in advertising - it's not just the message but the medium. If we stay centered in the best of intentions - even if we're delivering negative feedback, the message can be received constructively and positively. It's a fine line - but so the way!

    Thanks for sharing and mastering. I truly believe you're being of service by sticking to your guns in that way. Especially to the restaurant owner.