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!