Friday, November 15, 2013

"Why should I trust you?" Or, the most common question I get from people who aren't yet comfortable with massage

Tiny Flowers, CC licensed by WhatiMom on Flickr
The question is rarely phrased this way. Usually it's hidden behind a cascade of questions about the details of how a massage session works, or in the silent void of no questions at all. It's in "Oh, I can't imagine doing that" and "Haha, no one wants to see this body naked." It's the pushed-away pull of unmet needs. "Why should I trust you?" and even more simply: "Can I trust you?"

And here's my answer: I don't know if you can. And I'm not sure you should.

What, really? That's the answer you're going with?


I'm not sure you can trust me because trust is very little about me and almost everything with you. And I'm not sure you should trust me, because I don't know how not-trusting is serving you in this moment. But if you're disinclined to trust, I trust that there's a very good reason for that. Distrust can be protective. Distrust can be a healthy, appropriate response to trauma, to life in a marginalized body.

Distrust can also get in the way of healing, of health, of connection -- and if you want to work around it, past it, through it, I am absolutely here for you.

But I can't say whether you can trust me. And I won't say whether you should. My hope for you, if you're asking this question (aloud or danced around or behind the fortress walls inside your mind), is that you learn more and more to trust your judgment, to evaluate your dis/trust for its reasonableness and accuracy (or lack thereof), to sift through your experiences and habits and beliefs and patterns of relationship for what is valuable -- because so much of it is! -- and to allow yourself to leave behind that which you decide no longer serves you. I'll be so happy for you if that happens, whether or not it results in me specifically gaining your trust.

A promise I can't make -- and many more I can

I cannot promise I will be entirely safe for you. All ways of feeling about and relating to your body are welcome on my table, without judgment, without exception. But I am human, and you are human, and I do not know with perfect certainty how to avoid all unwanted triggers of painful memories and feelings. I cannot promise absolute safety, and I won't do you the disservice of pretending I can.

But I can promise that I will show up with my full presence if you choose to work with me. I will be here with you in this moment and hold the space for whatever is alive for you, whatever you are working through with your body. I will offer you informed choice for any treatment. I will ask your permission for where you wish to receive touch. I will respect your desires for areas to be covered, to be avoided, or to be honored and acknowledged without touch. I will allow you to see all records I keep about our sessions. I will never speak of your confidences outside of my office, except as required by law for your and others' safety. I will admit my ignorance when it exists and the limits of my work and my expertise. I will create a space where you and your beautiful-amazing-resilient-hurting body feel welcome and supported to the best of my ability. And I will never tell you to stop asking questions and just trust me.

Why should you trust me?

I don't know. But I hope you can answer that for yourself.


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