What makes a sheltered homeschooled boy choose to go to massage school? More than you might think.
My dad started asking me to massage his feet when I was three. I was very eager to please, and I gave the best foot rubs I could. (I found out years later that he asked the same thing of his little sister, but he actually paid her! 😳 Haha).
Things were pretty strict in our fundamental Christian homeschooling family. I was a naturally affectionate kid, which wasn’t really acceptable. We weren’t allowed to have friends our age, and I definitely wasn’t allowed to be around girls. But somehow, it was okay for me to give the occasional neck and shoulder massage to a relative or family friend. I cherished those moments.
A supporting factor was likely that my grandfather was a well-respected and world-renowned chiropractic doctor. I grew up receiving body work from the time I was little and actually thought about chiropractic school. But muscles were always more interesting to me than the bones. So, I think body work was vaguely acceptable in our strict home because of my dad’s dad. And I was genuinely interested in the muscle. I would study the myo man in the encyclopedia, and gradually felt I could “see” the muscles and knots under the skin with my fingers.
A highlight of my childhood was that my mom read to us. There were many great stories, but also some practical self-help books, like the Five Love Languages. I learned that my top love languages were physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time. Massage, amazingly, often includes all three!
I finally chose the courage to get away from my abusive home at 22 by joining the Marines. There was time before leaving for boot camp, so I requested information from various massage schools. I already knew I was interested, but it still felt like a bit of an impossibility. Both because I was nervous about the financial commitment but also because after all of the intense purity culture teaching, I wasn’t sure it was “right.”
A year and a half later, I was in the reserves and pursuing entry into massage school. My dad was disgusted and angry about my choice, believing only guys who were perverts chose this profession. This hit a deep wound that had formed over the years. Through seeing how he treated my mom, how he freaked out over my attraction to girls, and tried so hard to keep me away from girls my age, I felt like a dangerous monster because I was male. I was so interested in the welfare of every feminine being around me, but there was such horror and shame in wondering if I was innately dangerous because I was a guy, I struggled with suicidal depression. If I were truly dangerous to women, I was determined to be the first to eliminate myself. I also desperately wanted to believe this wasn’t the only reality available. I wanted to believe I could bring healing and well-being to others, especially to women.
That year of massage school was more healing and nurturing for me than I even knew. I had amazing classmates, gave and received positive touch, and thrived in the academic environment. I graduated with a 3.95 GPA and got my Oregon State license the next spring.
Sixteen years later, massage continues to be a beautiful, powerful, healing, aspect of my life. It is still helping me grow and expand.
One of the biggest things I’ve accepted is that we are all sexual beings, and that’s not only okay, it’s very good. I was trained to pretend I wasn’t sexual, meaning I wasn’t dangerous. But sexual energy is actually our creative energy, our life force energy. Pretending to not be sexual was contributing to my health issues.
Sometimes the fear would hit me, especially if I was working on a client I found attractive, “Is my attraction dangerous? Am I dangerous?” One of the most beautiful things to come from continuing to hold to my truth is the confirmation that nothing is more important to me than the well-being of those around me, as well as my own. It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with someone’s safety and care.
I continue to get more joy and delight from offering massage the longer I offer it because I increasingly allow myself to trust my integrity and my commitment to the welfare of those I am honored to care for. I believe strongly in consent, and that every person has the right to experience exactly what they wish and request to experience (within the limits of what others wish and request to experience).
I have been so lucky to do work I love, including personal training, life coaching, and massage. But truly, what could be more rewarding than the appreciation of someone who feels a million times better after their massage?
#massagetherapist #lifecoach #personaltrainer #lincolncity