Sunday, September 20, 2009


This weekend was spent in continuing education for my profession as a massage practitioner. For those of you that don't know me personally, about 2 1/2 years ago I was hit head on by a drunk driver. Fortunately, the injuries I had were relatively minor, with one particular issue that has been highly impactful for me: I have some permanent nerve damage to my arms and hands.

For most people, this wouldn't be of great concern, but as someone who used her upper extremities professionally for hours each day, it led to some major shifts in how I work. Basically, I moved from using my hands 100% of the time, to using my feet to handle 70-80% of my workload. This is a change that my clients have been very accepting of, which I have been truly grateful for. What I do for work isn't so much a job as a calling, and if I was independently wealthy, I would almost certainly continue to massage others as a personally enriching activity, so finding another way to be physically capable of my profession has been a huge priority.

Most of the time, I can forget that I have any limitations, since I'm pretty accustomed to managing the nerve damage. However, this weekend during the class, we spent several hours daily in practice of the technique we were learning, which was all done with hands. This was the first class I'd taken using hands since I was injured, and by the end of the first day, I could feel that nerve pain and sensation loss setting in.

Toward the end of the class this afternoon, we were given the opportunity to work on a segment of what we'd learned during class. The partner that I was working with was open to it, and so I asked them to let me try to adapt what we'd learned to working with my feet. As I was working on them, the instructor came up, and was somewhat disapproving that I wasn't doing things as shown in class. I'd explained earlier in the day the circumstances leading to the evolution of the predominant use of feet in my practice, and stated pretty firmly that I needed to look at shifting the techniques to suit my particular needs. My partner was very clearly enjoying the results, and verbally supported my choice, and he decided to let it slide.

As I continued to work, many of the 30 people in class with us looked over, intrigued by what was going on. Several of my colleagues in that group have been practicing even longer than the 15 years I have. A couple of them stopped by to say that they would take a class from me if I ever decided to teach this type of work, which was very flattering, to say the least.

The class wound to an end, and the instructor was making his closing remarks. Suddenly, they went in an unexpected direction. He specifically pointed out what I'd been doing, and held it as an example of someone who wasn't going to allow adversity to hold them back from doing what they were called to do with their life. Someone who takes a challenge and shoves it down the throat of fate and finds a path that is better than the one they were on to begin with. There was an ovation from my classmates. I became rather choked up at that point.

Sometimes, when we begin down the road to ethical non-monogamy, the optimal circumstances or timing aren't there. We may not even be in a space where we WANT to be poly, but opt to go in that direction to please a partner, or out of fear of loss. This is your opportunity to take those circumstances, some of which may not be of your choosing, and create the path YOU want. Find your own direction, motivations, and do it better than what your "limitations" might suggest. Sometimes, the changes in life that feel forced on you can be the ones that transform you in ways that you wouldn't have dared to dream on your own for the better.


Weekend warrior said...

Uplifting story. Just wanted to say that I, too, was hit by a drunk driver and while it only temporarily affected my work, it may have affected long-term my ability to mountain bike, hike, surf, and basically do things that make me feel alive, strong, competent, and at peace.

I also wanted to respond to your bit about choosing polyamory even when you don't want to and how freeing that can be. When I had to choose or lose, I decided that I loved me more than I loved him. The clarity that comes with knowing what you want in life, even if it means pain in losing someone you love, is a divine gift.

Thanks for sharing and allowing me to do the same.

Anonymous said...

You are most welcome! I really enjoy the input that others contribute.

For me, poly made/makes sense on both the emotional and practical levels, so it was an easy fit, once I wrapped my head around it. For others, there isn't the same sense of certainty, and sometimes people make a leap of faith into poly based on the strength of their connection with a partner.

This is a learn-as-you-go construct for most of us, and sometimes circumstances choose us, or so it may seem at the time. Later, we may find out that the path we were nudged onto was the one that we were supposed to be on to begin with.