The Bond of Relationship

Based on a friend’s referral, I looked up the work of Marnia Robinson on the internet today.  While I did not do too much digging, I discovered that Marnia’s work delves into sexuality and relationships.   Relationships have been the focus of my writing group’s work for the past 6 weeks.  Understandably intrigued, I pulled up a recent interview Marnia gave to a local west coast news program. 

As a result of her research and study, Marnia finds that sexuality, while great and necessary for relationship, is not enough to glue it together.  Long lasting relationships are characterized by deep bonding similar to the bonding that occurs between mother and infant.  Soft caresses, skin to skin contact, sustained eye contact and murmurs of contentment signal the limbic brain that this is a relationship to nourish and creates long-lasting desire. 

Another friend this week asked me if in my work as a massage therapist and Reiki master if I had ever encountered a person who I did not want to touch.  This is a question that comes up from time to time and it always reminds me of my first night of clinical work at massage school.

Fluttering between nervousness and excitement, I went to greet my client. A middle-aged single woman, she was exceedingly large with heavy rolls of body fat.  The massage session was a birthday gift to her from her sister and I told her I was honored to be able to help her celebrate her special day.  As we walked to the treatment area, I noted she had that stilted walk of the obese, legs apart to allow for the sway of the low-hanging stomach, arms a bit out to the side to maintain a steady balance. 

As this was her first massage, I relaxed a bit knowing she had no benchmark against which to compare my work.  I talked her through what the session would entail, and then gave her privacy so she could undress and get on the table. 

As I worked with her, I softly explained everything I was going to do, seeking her permission before using any techniques.  I inquired about her comfort.  She was nervous at first, but I felt her relax and open to the experience.

Near the end of the session, I finished up with effleurage, a soft but firm gliding technique, along her back.  She heaved under my hand.  I asked her if she was okay and she mumbled yes.  As I continued, I suddenly realized she was crying.  Again I asked her if she was okay and if she wanted me to stop.  But she demurred and I continued on for a bit before bringing the session to a close. 

I provided her with tissues and stepped out of the room to give her privacy.   I returned a few minutes later with a cup of water for her.  I knocked on the door.  She gave me permission to enter.  Tears were still rolling down her face. 

I can’t let my sister see me like this.”  She said.  I don’t know what got into me.”

“Take your time.  These are good tears and I think your sister will understand.”

We sat side by side on the table for a few minutes while she composed herself.  Then she turned to me and said “may I give you a hug?”

I opened my arms and we embraced solidly and firmly for several minutes. 

The next night our instructor asked for feedback on our first night of clinic.  All I could say was “It was humbling.

To my friend who asked me the question, I say “all people need loving kindness.”

To Marnia Robinson I say “I agree”.

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