A couple weeks ago I got a massage.
It was part of Neil’s birthday present and I didn’t think much of it aside from the fact that my body could certainly use one. As a personal trainer and someone who works out pretty aggressively, rest days and active recovery are something that need to be incorporated into my schedule. I’ve got the rest days down, but I don’t do much for active recovery.
I know well enough that things like yoga, massage, and other forms of holistic treatment can sometimes elicit emotional responses as well. It’s why I don’t do them. I’ve become comfortable to a point with emotional self-expression, but allowing myself to experience every emotion that comes up is still something that I work on after decades of actively doing the opposite.
I didn’t really consider this as I went in to focus on my neck and upper back — areas that had been feeling tight from throwing giant weights around all the time. If you recall, I hurt my back almost a year ago which left me sidelined for a month, so I wanted to make sure that I focused on that area as well.
This wasn’t a relaxing, zen-type massage; it was a sports massage that was meant to be a little uncomfortable as he dug around to find knots and other tight places to release. I felt fine during the massage and headed home nice and loosened up.
When I got home I ended up taking a long nap — one of those naps that you can’t escape from no matter how hard you try. Several times my mind woke up, but my body would not cooperate and I felt dragged back into sleep as I fought to open even one of my eyes.
Each time I fell back asleep I had a bad dream. I can’t remember all of them now, but the one that sticks out most vividly is being back in active addiction and using a variety of drugs throughout my time there. It wasn’t an allusion to having used drugs as some of my dreams in the past have been; it was a sharp and striking recall back to places that I thought I had escaped and feelings that I thought I wouldn’t have to experience again.
When I finally awoke, my whole body was fuzzy and numb from too much sleep. I made my way out to the couch where I told Neil I just had to sit and come back to normal. I felt terrible and although my body finally returned to normal, my mind was preoccupied with anxious and negative thoughts which reminded me of how this was my normal before I started antidepressant medication.
The feelings continued to the next day and it took me almost a complete 24 hours to feel like myself again.
I’m not saying this to scare people away from massages (ha), but to emphasize the importance of the mind-body connection.
In previous years, I have attended women’s recovery weekends which involve things like meditation and deep work on the self. When Neil and I almost separated we both went through intensive therapy and I dove head first into any and every self-help book I could find. My life improved tremendously when I started medication. For almost every year since I entered recovery, I’ve done a pretty good job working on the inside.
This year, not so much. I’ve taken on more and more work and my body (and mind) prefers workouts where I don’t have time to slow down and think. Apparently in all that rushing around, I’ve conveniently been storing any negativity in my body, most notably my shoulder area. I should have known this — it’s where my posture immediately starts falling apart as I experience stress and anxiety. Getting that massage must have released more than just tight muscles, which then manifested in dreams and thoughts I wasn’t prepared for.
Since then, I’ve been feeling a pull towards more wellness. Not drinking turmeric lattes and stockpiling crystals (although if that’s your thing, go for it), but slowing down and taking more time for introspection. Some of my greatest personal growth moments come from meditating on things I’m feeling or have done. Asking myself what’s going on. Figuring out how to grow into the person I want to become.
I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s almost like a stirring. I feel like wellness-centered events catch my eye more often than they did a few months ago. I remember the importance of journaling. I long for time to sit. Not sit and scroll through Instagram or other social media, just sitting. Being mindful of where and how I am.
I’m not sure where this stirring is going, but I’m excited to put some work and focus into making it a priority. My body and mind still crave things like Crossfit and anything high-intensity for workouts, so that’s not going anywhere, but I may try and make more time for slower avenues.
I think the mind and body are amazing things and it’s wonderful what you can learn by just taking the time to listen to them.
- Have you ever had an experience like this?
- Where are you being pulled lately?