At times she was left for dead, alone and locked in a room when she came to, and with no one to talk to or comfort her.
Sadly, she is not the only survivor on the planet. There are many with similar stories, yet many are afraid to tell them for fear of repercussions if they do, or even fear of being accused of just making them up.
What makes her story so special and ultimately uplifting is the fact that she has been starting to heal, inside and out, through the power of touch — physical, emotional and spiritual touch, administered by caring and skilled healers and therapists.
It started with just one massage, her first one that broke the ice...
The body holds cellular memory like a sponge. Any kind of touch or impact with its associated emotions stays locked into the fibers of our tissues (and being) until released. This can be the memory of a ski accident, a slap in the face or back surgery. The ski accident may have left chronically tight muscle fibers in the neck and shoulder area from bracing for the fall, as well as the impact, in addition to the broken leg.
When working on releasing these tight muscles, there may be fear of sudden impact and trauma surfacing, and the person may become afraid and freeze up if the therapist is moving too fast or is not completely present.
The slap in the face may have caused undetected and untreated whiplash at the time and could be the underlying cause of chronic neck problems. The same care of moving slowly and deliberately, and to be completely present with the client would have to be taken by the therapist, in order to not cause additional trauma.
Emotions resurfacing might include anger, fear, distrust or others, and can cause a so-called “emotional release.” The practitioner can support the client through empathy and reassurance, thereby assisting the clearing of stuck energy and allowing healing to occur.
The beauty of caring and skilled bodywork is that it addresses the person as a whole. It is almost impossible to only treat bodily tissue without also affecting a person’s spirit and soul, however elusive these counterparts may seem. An experienced therapist will always take these aspects into consideration and be happy to work in conjunction with other health professionals as part of a client’s health care team.
Therapeutic massage and bodywork can be an invaluable and irreplaceable building block in a person’s healing journey. For a survivor of physical and emotional abuse, to return to our original example, it can bring the healing from an abstract idea in the head down into the physical and tangible plane of existence, literally realigning the tapestry of our being from contorted and knotted up fibers still locked up with the memory of trauma, to smooth and supple tissue that can move freely and joyfully again. In Angelina it also inspired a new sense of trust, a new belief that touch does not have to be traumatic or have a hidden agenda, or be guarded against at all times — it can be safe and caring and welcomed and relaxed into again.
This trust can lay a powerful foundation for healing to occur on all levels — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual — and can be a turning point in a person’s healing journey. For Angelina Light it was this first massage, administered by another caring human being, that shifted her world from isolation, depression and pain to a new sense of hope, healing and self-worth.
I’ve seen amazing healing occur! In an ideal world anyone recovering from major trauma would have access to a full range of health professionals, from physicians, surgeons and physical therapists to counselors, massage therapists, energy workers and intuitive healers. Of course, in theory we do. Not everyone can easily afford the latter services though, as important as they may be to the overall outcome.
In some developed countries, at least massage therapy has become a securely integrated part of health care, yet in this part of the world, we are still some steps away from that ideal.
For this reason, many practitioners, even if they have to support themselves with additional side jobs, are willing to offer sliding-scale fees to financially challenged clients. For persons committed to their healing who feel that they could benefit tremendously from therapeutic massage and bodywork, but lack coverage through their insurance, it can be helpful to come up with a monthly budget they can afford and then discuss options with a therapist they feel drawn to. Most times it is just a matter of adjusting the length and/or frequency of treatments in order to fit into that budget. Once an agreement is reached, it is advisable to stick with it and give the healing time to unfold.
I just love it when healing is so strongly visible, as in Angelina’s case – when there is such a clear before and after, even if the in-between can be full of smaller ups and downs. You don’t need to have such big scars to heal though, in order to justify receiving regular bodywork. The benefits are manifold and cumulative, and even if seemingly small in the moment (like stress reduction, smoothness of muscular and bodily function, enhanced immunity, etc), can make a huge difference in the long run.
Besides, massage just feels good!
Ata Susanne Morse has been a certified massage therapist since 1996 and is licensed in the state of Utah since 2009. She has a private practice — Massage and Bodywork — in Moab and can be reached at 435-260-2874, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is: www.ombodyworkmoabmassagetherapist.com.