Learning To Make Time For Myself Before The 'Knots' Take Over

by Dana Kramaroff

Making an appointment to get a massage is a big deal for me; it only happens about twice a year. I find that making time for myself is quite difficult. I think what holds me back is the feeling that I should not take me time unless all the right circumstances are in place: It has to be a low-stress time, a finished-project time, an everything-must-be-going-right time. I do this to myself, only allowing this kind of break as a reward when everything in my life is going the way I think it should be going. But even when I do go, who am I kidding, the circumstances are never perfect. There’s always something stressing me out, eating at me.

That stress becomes physical for me, and I think everyone knows exactly the points in their body where they carry their stress. My twice-a-year massage therapists are never the same, but whoever it is, she is always quick to find “my knot”: upper-back, right shoulder—every single time. As soon as she finds it, I make a big deal of naming the knot for her. I say, “Oh, that’s just my, ‘You Didn’t Finish That Work Project Yet’ knot,” or my “You Are Failing As a Mother” knot, or even my “You Have Been Eating Like Crap Lately” knot.

Whatever I call my knot, it is definitely not my friend. Every massage therapist seems to take on my knot as if it is their personal mission to break it up and make it dissipate. Kill the enemy, they must think. But is there ever really any relief from that one knot, that single reminder of the stress in your life? I don’t think so. When it gets maneuvered, there is always pain. It hurts like hell. With each and every rub, it is like applying pressure to a three-day-old bruise or an open wound.

And the fact of the matter is, the moment always comes after your 50 or 60 minutes when the massage therapist says, “I will be right out here while you get dressed. Take your time.” It would be more realistic if she would just say, “As you get dressed, just go ahead and remind yourself about all the stressful things that you forgot in the last hour.” If I could just not let that junk come rushing back immediately, that would be just awesome, but that never happens.

So how do I actually deal with these “knots” in my life without a massage therapist on demand? Do I procrastinate to avoid them so I don’t have to confront them? Yes. Guilty. Do I attempt to wish my knots away? Uh, yep. Do I hit some of my “knots” head-on and face them right away before they become a real problem? Sometimes, but probably not with the same vengeance as a massage therapist.

When I think about it, it’s not just getting a massage that I avoid, while believing life must be hunky-dory for me to deserve it. I don’t read for pleasure or binge-watch a new TV series, either. I don’t write much or just allow myself to relax at night after the kids are finally asleep.This is not cool. This is a problem. Somewhere along the way, I learned that in order to make time in my life to show myself great kindness and love, I must have everything in order and in perfect harmony. What a joke. Life is always going to be crazy. There are always going to be stressors.

I would like to find that place where I can be less hard on myself, where I can take on any task with a will to get it done right away and be the kind of person who isn’t so darn sensitive. And if I dig down deep enough, I can find some sound pieces of advice that I should probably give myself and actually acknowledge them:

– The knots are always going to be there. Life is never simple nor perfect, and I can’t wish them away.

– Perseverance means living with my knots gracefully. Sometimes knots are here to stay, and I’ve got to learn to put the hard stuff away sometimes so I can make time for the fun stuff.

– And for crying out loud, what could possibly be more stress-relieving than doing something nice just for me? It is so obvious, right?

I mean, come on, if some renegade massage therapist is willing to give it her all to attack my knots, perhaps I should be kind enough to myself to learn how to deal with them too—before they manifest in my shoulders.