It was all a mistake. I was expecting a woman for the massage, which my tense body so desperately needed. My sister in law was so generous and booked a session for me. When I arrived and realized it would be a middle-aged man, I could have said “no thank you,” and walked out. Why couldn’t I just use my voice?
I was left in privacy to undress and hide under the sheet. Completely naked and feeling utterly vulnerable, I told myself I was overreacting. “Relax,” I ordered myself. “This is normal.” Indeed the therapist knocked politely and acted quite normal as he began the massage. He asked where I need help, and I told him neck and upper back. I didn’t tell him my hips and legs were fine, but that is where he spent most of the next 45 minutes. I don’t mean my lower legs, either. One hair closer and I would have been screaming, “Rape!” Also, the whole pecs thing, which involves massaging a significant amount of upper chest and yes, side boob. Eww. He never asked me if I was comfortable with it, or even warned me where his hands were going. I steeled myself with the thought, “maybe this is normal. That’s how they do full body massage. Don’t ruin your chance to get your upper back fixed.” I was hurting and I felt desperate. Also, 30, not 45 minutes had not been booked. I had to wonder if he was generous or just enjoying himself. I felt beyond humiliated. I should have said something.
In his defense he could have been totally innocent, although I have since learned that message therapists are taught to ask before moving to “risky” areas. The usual no-touch zones can be legitimate parts of a massage, but I didn’t know that. And if the sheet slips, or fingers accidentally graze the wrong area, which definitely happened, they should apologize. I could understand an honest mistake. But when he didn’t ask or apologize, I should have ended the session.
When he did focus attention on my upper back and neck, I was so nervous that it just made my knots worse. My uptight neck muscles between my shoulders ended up feeling like hamburger. Why didn’t I say something?
When it was over I made a little small talk and quickly left, leaving a tip and trying to be invisible. Only after reaching the safety of my vehicle did I give credit to my gut feeling. Maybe he had innocent intentions, but that was wrong.
I showered hard trying to remove the icky feeling and took ibuprofen for the next couple days as I nursed my painful neck and upper back. And you know what I did? I called manager and said something.
I told management what I am telling you. I don’t think the therapist will be in trouble, (unless it was a repeated offense and he in fact wasn’t innocent) but I think he might learn to show more respect for vulnerable tongue-tied clients who don’t know what to say. As for me, I’m going to get better at using the voice God gave me.