In Case You’re Wondering…

Who’s most qualified to speak on my behalf?

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“When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.”

Madonna

You’ve landed on the right essay.

Read on…

See, I have no idea how to accurately explain the recent conundrum I found myself in because it’s complicated. And every time I attempt to write about this sordid tale, I end up with mud on my face.

Not the look I’m going for.

Okay, let’s just hang out all the dirty laundry on one line; It has been suggested that I’m dumb (as in unwilling to speak). A mute, one who enjoys unnecessary suffering, and has been referred to as craven on occasion.

Let me explain, and as usual, I’ll try to be as brief…as possible.

As you may or may not know, Larry is painting the house at my bequest, and I’m trying to be supportive, so I don’t end up with a house that looks like a patchwork quilt. It used to be a faded grey-green with off-white trim, and now it is halfway to being a dark navy with white trim.

The opposing color schemes are rather shocking, but it makes sense, as our lifestyle compared to last year is shockingly different. As in two healthy incomes reduced to two unwaged individuals with absolutely no onus. Don’t most people replicate their experiences with paint? Consider what Michelangelo did with the Sistine Chapel.

Larry’s not exactly Michelangelo, but he’s Italian, so there’s that.

It’s a big job. We were almost two decades younger than the last time we (by we, I mean Larry) painted the house. Yes, that would put us in our early forties for those with sluggish math skills.

After a long day of painting, Larry comes into the house and pours himself into the recliner. He’s exhausted. I’m still fatigued from the muscle exhaustion left over from Spain, but that’s not really the issue, and you can ignore that piece of evidence.

He says, “I think we should get massages tonight.”

I remind him, “the last time I went for a massage with you, I couldn’t walk upright for a week, and I still have nightmares.”

He looks confused.

So I remind him, “Thai massage ring a bell, woman walking up and down my back, overextension of limbs,” but he looks rather crushed, so I add, “but you should go without me.”

“Last time I did that, you accused me of abandonment.”

You’ve heard of the words master manipulator? It’s my husband’s superpower. He would say it’s mine, but that would be an injustice to the sacredness of words.

“Well, you ditched me in a foreign country without a credit card or cash.”

He ignores my quip and says, “I’ll call around, and I’ll be very specific. You want a Swedish massage. No Thai. I got this. Nothing to worry about,” and he heads to the office to look up torture chambers. I mean massage parlors.

Famous last words.

Minutes later, he comes skipping into our room and says, “We have appointments at 6:00 pm, and I was very adamant about what we wanted.”

“Then we should have nothing to worry about.”

I get the look.

Against my better judgment, I prepare for our little outing slipping into an all-black sweatsuit and stashing some Bengay ointment in my bag.

Just in case…

So we arrive at the massage parlor twenty minutes early. Someone’s excited.

I’m embroiled in a silent but heated debate with my self-limiting beliefs. They’re like opposing political parties, no one is listening, and there’s a lot of false news being tossed around.

This little parlor is located on the second floor of a strip mall, directly above an insurance office. I’m trying to decide if that’s a bad omen or not?

We don’t want to appear overly anxious, so we wait in the car until our scheduled appointment. After filling out forms denouncing any responsibility on their part for bodily damage, they assign both Larry and me a room of our own.

You know the drill. Remove your clothes and climb under the covers, face down. I comply as if a first-year Marine. I can hear the faint sounds of Larry’s voice coming from down the hall when my masseuse enters the room.

She confirms that I want the Swedish massage, which calms my jagged nerves, but it’s the same sort of trepidation I feel right before a colonoscopy. Keeping it real.

Starting at my feet, she works her way up my legs, butt, back, and shoulders with a strong repetitive motion to loosen up my muscles. It’s deceptively nice, but ten minutes later, her true colors start showing, and both the pressure and intensity of the massage start to escalate. I give a little wince here and there to let her know I’m uncomfortable.

Ms. Iron Fingers says, “sorry,” but continues with the same shenanigans.

After locating about half a dozen knots in my shoulders, arms, legs, and feet, she says, “oh, so many knots,” and proceeds to undo them one at a time with these little torturous movements and all I can do is clench my damn teeth.

It’s true. I should have spoken up. I should have said, “that’s too much pressure. Ouch, that hurts!” But I do the typical Cheryl thing, suffer in silence, wincing only when I can’t stop myself because I don’t want to appear rude.

I’m completely aware this is one hundred percent my fault. As Zora Neale Hurston says, if you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it. That’s what I call a killjoy. Bahaha

Things really went south when she decides to do a combo massage so she can stretch out my dense muscles. There I was, as in Deja Vu, with my thigh parallel to my ear and Ms. Iron Fingers leaning on me to extend the stretch.

The rousting finally ends, and I meet Mr. Relaxed in the lobby just as he stuffing twenty dollar bills in their tip envelopes, and I resist making an inappropriate comment.

I start lamenting the minute we get in the car, and he totally blasts me, “why didn’t you speak up. I told her exactly what I wanted and when it was the least bit uncomfortable, I told her to ease up.”

I whine, “I’m not good at telling people what I want.” He looks at me aghast.

“What the hell do you mean? You tell me exactly what you want all the time.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what, I want gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and a glass of wine.”

“I know the place.”

Okay, as I’m rubbing Bengay on my appendages, Larry heads downtown, and we had the most unexpected dining experience ever. I almost forgot about the heinous massage. Almost.

First, we find a parking space right in front of our favorite restaurant. We enter a little sheepishly because we’re really not dressed appropriately, and now I smell like peppermint, but we head straight to the back of the dim establishment and slip into a couple of empty bar seats for a more casual dining experience.

The bartender’s name is Brain. He’s very accommodating and fusses over us as if we were family. He starts off by recommending a superb Italian wine and dives right into the daily specials. Apparently, they’re offering scrumptious Ossoboco tonight.

According to Brian, “it’s out of the world.”

Larry hems and haws for like two seconds and says, “okay, we’ll share a plate.”

I add, “but we also love the gnocchi.”

Brain says, “you should get the gnocchi as a side dish.”

Larry says, “make it so.” Did he really say that?

Brain delivers our gnocchi first, accompanied by a basket of warm bread, and I’ll admit, I moaned over every single bite. Don’t judge me. It’s that good. Now, unbeknownst to Larry and me, the head chef was sitting at the bar watching us exclaim over the gnocchi, and he was ever so pleased. In fact, he felt compelled to tell us about how he came up with the recipe and all the trials it took him to find just the right texture and complimentary sauce. We kept nodding while stuffing gnocchi in our mouths. I mean, what else can you do?

Abruptly the chef gets up, heads to the kitchen, and a few minutes later, he presents us with another plate of pasta. It’s his new creation. Yes, that required another basket of bread and more wine.

I’m in carb heaven, salivating between bites, and I have no words to describe the flavors assaulting my mouth.

By the time the lamb came, the pasta is nicely expanding in our stomachs, and I’m not sure how we were going to take another bite, but we managed to clean the plate, scooping up the remains with more bread. We didn’t want to appear rude.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who doesn’t know how to speak up.

An hour later, we waddled out of the restaurant thanking the chef, bartender, and staff profusely.

I laid in bed that night trying to figure out how to recreate gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce.

Woke up with bruises on my shoulders and a mild case of indigestion, but I managed to walk five miles with Sue.

Larry dragged himself out of bed and into his paint clothes, feeling fabulously restored.

So today, I’m turning over a new leaf.

From today on, I’m going to speak up even when it’s inconvenient or I’m risking disapproval or, worse, rejection. Brene Brown says the issue of “stay small, sweet, quiet, and modest” sounds like an outdated problem, but the truth is women still run into those demands when they find and use their voice.

Even Madeleine Albright says, “it took me quite a long time to develop my own voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” I think most predicaments can be remedied with a few simple words. I’m a wordsmith. I should be able to do this. When I gather the courage to speak up, to use my own voice for the preservation of myself, I believe my next massage, conflict, or confrontation will be an absolute delight.

I’ll keep you posted.

I’m Living in the Gap, using my voice as if someone dropped a nickel in me. If you have some advice, I’m all ears! Thanks so much for reading. Meet you in the comments.

43 Comments

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  1. I have never had a massage, but I was with you for the food in that Italian restaurant. You made my mouth water, and made me forget the need for any massage first. Straight to the restaurant for me! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Pete, you’re missing out, well at least according to Larry, but you need to loudly communicate your needs. I’m a slow learner but I’m turning over a new leaf! We’ll see how it goes. And yes, our favorite Italian restaurant really knows how to delight their patrons, and we always leave with big smiles and full bellies. I agree, maybe we skip the massage, go straight for the gnocchi. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce! That sounds delectable, and so does the massage. I’m a glutton for those sorts of creature comforts, Cheryl. But I’m also pretty good at speaking up, especially as I’ve gotten older. Maybe not about some topics with some people (since this is the US and I don’t want to get shot) but about massage pressure? Sure beans. Good for you for deciding to use your voice. And a great song from Bareilles. I loved that.

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    1. Diana, the gnocchi was divine, as if manna from heaven. A most appreciative offering after a massage that felt almost punitive. My fault, totally, but I’m determined to push through my discomfort and speak up in the future! I agree, we have to be judicious when deciding when, and what to share. We live in an unpredictable world, prone to rage. It’s sad, I used to enjoy wrestling with my grandfather over the current issues, and never fearing a break in our relationship. Times have changed, bravery is mandatory, hence the song. Glad you enjoyed it. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Remember that old show “What would you do?” that set up random scenes of bullying to see whether people would step in or not? That show had a profound effect on me. I hope that I would be brave in helping another person. Otherwise, it’s hard to shut me up!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember that show! Yes, the message was powerful, and I remember thinking I would be the one to jump in. I have to say when it comes to children I can be rather fierce. But I also remember watching The Human Behavior Experiments and those made me question who and what I was really capable of doing given a corrupt or corrosive environment. Sadly, it’s not unlike some aspects of our current society. Check them out on YouTube if you’ve never seen them. 💕

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Your story resonates so we’ll with me! It took me years to speak up. Even as a teen girl at the hairdresser, I was petrified to tell her how much to take off. I barely spoke and then silently cried bitter tears for the 6 lost millimeters of ends she snipped off, not to mention I never got that feathered look (80s… Lol)

    Anyway, I now have Karla the hairdresser and Jessica the massage therapist and they know me and it’s easier now. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claudette, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue. It just points to the obvious conclusion, our formative upbringing, has a powerful influence on how we move in the world. I’ve been intentionally using self talk to remind me to say what I actually feel in stead of what might be expected, what is kind, what will not lead to a conflict. Okay world, watch out, we’re speaking up from here on out! BooYah! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I trained to be a Sports massage therapist bacck in the day and never had to hurt people, it isn’t about pain it’s about making sore muscles relax. Your lot sound a bit gung-ho, I probably wouldn’t speak up either, I’d just head butt. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fraggle, is there is no end to your notorious background? A sports massage therapist? I admit that has it’s appeal. I agree, my therapist was “a bit gung-ho,” and a head butt might have been the perfect solution? Or maybe just a few words? “A softer rub please.” I’ve been practicing on Larry, using my voice, speaking my truth. You can probably imagine how that’s going! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my the pasta heaven sounds wonderful, but I would definitely take a pass on the excruciating massage. I get it thought, finding your voice isn’t easy, at least the one that speaks out loud. I feel much safer tapping it out on the keyboard. Cheryl, you have a gift with words and I know that you will mast “speaking up” when needed! Best Wishes! Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leigh, the thing is the pasta was divine and when we communicated our intense admiration for this particular dish, and we were reward with more. It was mind-boggling. So I’m thinking this has to apply to a raised voice. When you let people know how you really feel, kindly, but honestly I can’t help but think you will be rewarded with not only a more comfortable massage, but better relationships, based on honest communication that everyone can trust. I have these little mantras running through my head and we’ll see how honesty and courage work in the wake of a real life. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to have an amazing massage therapist. I would drive over an hour to see him. When he gave up his business, I was heartbroken. I’ve been to others, with very little satisfaction. I refuse to ever go to Massage Envy since all the news a few years ago about their horrible actions. I have fibro and finding someone who doesn’t leave me bruised is difficult. I miss massages. Good ones, are worth their weight in gold.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lauren, I’ve heard that again and again, how some people have located a good massage therapist and they remain devoted to them. It makes sense because if I’ve learned on thing, it’s that everyone is not cut out to be a masseuse, and some are outright dangerous. My aunt had fibro and it caused her a lot of pain and distress. She used medicated patches to alleviate the pain but she was always in some sort of discomfort. Hugs and love to you my friend, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Suma, your words mean the world to me, and I’m so pleased you found this inspiring and positive. I appreciate you reading my blog and taking the time to share your thoughts. Hugs, C

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    1. I’m really trying to speak up, to be authentic, and kind but the strange part is now I’m recognizing how often I remained quiet, or spoke words I thought the situation called for instead of what I really wanted to say. I have to stop myself mid thought and revamp my message, “how do I really feel, what do I really want to express, and how can I say it respectfully.” I’m making progress but it’s sort of slow and yet more often then not just a few words are necessary. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved this piece, Cheryl. You have an amazing way with words — witty, thoughtful and poetic, meaningful, and you have made Larry come alive in my mind. (I feel like I kinda know him now:)

    I have the exact same problem of never using my voice. Never. I’ve had my naturally blond hair dyed dark brown (when I specifically only asked for some light blond highlights) and yet I never spoke up. Why? Didn’t want to offend my hairdresser:) Then I lived with dark hair I despised for two months.

    I fear the same things: appearing rude, pushy, aggressive, obnoxious, and well — not being liked. Sigh. I know it’s a tough one to fix when we have done this all our lives. I’m working on it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, thank you for reading my blog, and finding your way into the comments. I so appreciate your kind words and valuable assessment of my message. Larry does seem to come alive all on his own in my posts, he’s quite popular with the readers and it’s an endless source of pride for him ~ just sayin’. I want to touch on the hair thing, so many readers have mentioned either privately or in the comments how difficult it is to speak up to a professional even when they are doing something you don’t want. And then you have to live with it! I find that fascinating, maybe a subject for a future blog. And I agree, we are groomed (pun intended) to not be rude, pushy, aggressive, obnoxious in most every situation even when our safety is in question. I’m working on it too, I’m thrilled to hear I’m not alone, I believe our voices together are able to create change. Onward…much love and hugs to you Sarah, C

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  8. I can relate to it, Cheryl. I have trouble communicating what I want as well, and often end up getting too short a haircut or tolerating too much pain at the dentist (just a few examples off the top of my head). I think, for me, it stems from having seen too many awfully rude people in life, and me vowing not to become a horrendous person myself, but I realise that always being polite is not the way to go about it. I am trying to change this about me. A great post as always!👌

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  9. “Larry’s not exactly Michelangelo, but he’s Italian, so there’s that.” omg you always make me laugh 😂 I have had painful massage experiences but I’m usually like less pressure please lol. I try to just keep my mouth shut but I never can…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yesssssssss SPEAK UP!!! I’m here for it!!!!
    I always tell them to ease up on my lower back or I’ll be bent over for a week. Sometimes they don’t realize how hard they are pressing on you.
    Go Larry go paint that house. Just read all about that in your last post. I can’t wait to see it.😍😍😍
    Pasta, bread and wine….. HEAVEN!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying all week to speak my mind, to stay true to what I really want to say, to avoid half-truths, and downright falsities. I’m happy to report I haven’t lost anybody yet! The house is almost done. I’ve made one fairly descent attempt at the gorgonzola gnocchi and the truth is gorgonzola goes a long way. Thanks for your lovely response Bella. You always make me smile. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Debby, I’m trying to use my voice more especially when it would be easier to just remain silent. Every time I do speak up I’m noticing the next time is easier. And by the way I tried to recreate that gnocchi dish but I used to much gorgonzola, next time I use half the cheese and I think I’ll have it down! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Good for you but now actions speak louder than words!🤣 Also, put black shutters on your house and it will look just like mine, except for the 1/3 of the East side that blew away in the terrible winds we had. 😢 I think you two should give each other a massage, now that would be fun! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diane! I totally agree, actions do speak louder than words but sometimes a simple, “softer please,” might save me a lot of anguish in the end. Or just have Larry and I trade favors. Now that could have some potential. And we have similar color schemes on our houses, stands to reason, good minds…think alike! Sorry to hear about the wind damage! That must have been one hell of a storm. Are you getting a new wing? I hope so! Hugs, C

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  12. So glad the story ended up with lemonade from lemons, so to speak. I have no idea if the massage actually helped you after the pain subsided. If it did, I’d suggest you down some anti-inflammatories beforehand. It works for babies before they get their shots and for old farts before PT (or massage?)

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    1. Hi Sue! Yes, the meal made up for a lot of unnecessary anguish and pain. I ended up with bruises and sore muscles so I don’t think it actually helped in the long run but it was fodder for a good story! That’s a great suggestion for my next massage adventure, anti-inflammatories before hand and a voice during the massage! Hope all is well with you. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This sounds pretty familiar, honestly. I mean, I’ve even had a massage so deep I was nauseaus after and had to wait before I could walk home. Ugh, was not at all the relaxation I was going for. But, of course, I didn’t say anything. Now, there’s no way I’m telling a waiter to stop bringing me amazing gnocchi tho!

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