Updated: Mar 17
Chapter: Temporary Insanity
The only time I've ever seen the word “massage” used in a negative way, was when I had to look through old court papers from my own childhood abuse case, in order to defend myself against false accusations that I was harmful and abusive towards my third daughter, my new baby girl. Whom was now being separated from me. Looking at the old faded ink, reading through things counselors wrote down that both me and my sister Regina reported. I felt hollow and scared.
After admitting those papers into my case file at my high priced lawyers office, and deciding to try to go though the next phase of court dates, I believed they wouldn't take a one year old from her mother and give her to an alcoholic father with 4 DUI's. I was wrong. I stood in the bathroom of that court building staring down at a printed copy of a letter from my own mother and youngest sister. After my ex, Dustin's even higher priced lawyer called me into the hall and tried to get me to give him half custody of her, to which I refused. Pleading with her that he is dangerous and has injured her while he was drunk on many occasions. She didn't care though. This whole thing was just a matter of her winning, not protecting my child.
My goal with admitting my old court papers from my own childhood was to show how my own mother put us in very compromising positions of vulnerability with her numerous boyfriends as well as having sometimes brutally abused us herself and is still a full-blown high functioning alcoholic whom should therefore have no say in what’s a "safe home" for my baby. Nor any other child for that matter. Once again my distain was quite present. The faded court papers read like a hospital report of sorts with it’s to the point, very blunt wording of what was going on. The Child Protective Services worker wrote directly from Regina’s mouth reading "Regina stated father offered to massage her back and it made her feel uncomfortable."
My sister and I were allowed to visit him on very rare occasions at that point and only a few times a month as small children. But those few times were everything to us. We loved him and wanted to be with him more than our mom. He always took us to do fun things, see the other side of our family and play with our cousins. Although sometimes I had personality clashes with him and went home feeling bad or mad. More than anything I remember wanting to live with him. But he wasn’t able to hold a stable job in order to support himself and a home for us. Many people in our family said, “He just wasn’t the same when he came back from the military.”
But now present day I was a Massage Practitioner and living with grandma as an adult. It was just a few weeks after dad called and left a voice mail about wanting to say hi to me on his birthday. I hadn’t even realized it was his birthday. And never called him back.
There I was standing by a car talking to some dumb boy in man form, outside the house when I got this ever so strange sense within me. A feeling similar to realizing I was “like" my dad. And I tried to not feel it. I didn’t want to feel ‘like’ my dad. I didn’t want to be like him. I kind of shook it off in a way and went about my conversations when 30 seconds later, my eldest daughter, now thirteen years old, and living here with me and grandma, called for me to come to the house, saying my little sister Lauren, dads only daughter outside of his marriage to mom, was on the phone. I wondered why she would be calling me at such a late hour. So when I got on the line I said, “hey sis what’s goin on?” She replied plainly but with a tone I didn’t recognize. “Hey Caroline, I have to tell you something okay……...............................… dad's dead.”
I thought she was playing a mean joke, like when we would call someone and say we were the ‘Long Beach Police Department’. So I waited for her to start laughing and let me know the real reason she was calling, perhaps to invite me somewhere or something, but she stayed quiet.
My mind rejected the words. My reply was “no he’s not, that’s not funny… what do you mean?”
More silence. And then she said, “I know”. And I heard her gently sniffle. I repeated “No he’s not, how....... that’s not funny……... Huh?” She cried and said “yes.... dad’s gone.”
My heart sunk into my bowels and the room went quiet. I yelled out in a weak but clear loudness, “NO NOO NOOO Dad, no dad nooooo, dad noooo, please nooo wait nooo daaadd.” Grandma and my daughter came running as I fell to the floor.
His birthday had just passed, and I didn’t even call him for his day. He called and sounded so dad on his voice, but I was mad at him because of our stupid financial squabble and my own dumb thoughts in fear and judgement of his past and possibility of his inner demons so instead of letting it go and loving him anyway, I decided to “cut him off.”
I never in a million years would have even imagined something like this could happen!!! But it did. And now I was here, and he was not. I didn’t even know he was diabetic and had gone to the hospital to be checked because he was having some health complications. They said he left before getting help because he was angry at the way the nurse was handling him, and left without getting any care. Dad’s difficult personality often clashed with people who didn’t know how to handle highly sensitive people and when he got home, his body just shut down.
And now he was gone.......... His body no longer housed his soul.
My dad was in the US Marine Corps from the age of 19. It was his greatest accomplishment, and he lived and breathed the brother hood. He was a proud Mexican and loved watching soccer and football games and fixing things. But as life progressed, he had become more and more of a hermit and didn’t even like to go out to walk his dog in those last days. His death made me realize the true love that so many soldiers who sign up, are filled with. The want to protect. That was my dad. Always trying to protect other people, strangers even. If he seen what seemed like someone being hurt or ‘punked’ in any way, he stood up for them. But mom told me he had confided to her that he’d been sexually violated as a child and battled those demons within, then on top of that he developed a paranoia about being followed.
His favorite area of research was religion and government, he spoke about it to anyone who would listen. And if he felt you’d stepped out of line he would get crazy with you and that just made it hard for many family members to get along with him. So, many of his close family members had also chose to not keep in contact so often.
Dad was pretty comical at times, kind and liked to tell stories about the past. He loved movies. He once told us he only lied to the counselors that he was having hallucinations, in order to get financial military support for the ailment, but we all knew his behavior and communications were pretty violent and different and caused problems for many. I felt frustrated and annoyed with his paranoia and couldn’t handle the confrontations we’d get into on occasions. I felt so guilty because I was sometimes mean to him and hurt him and judged him when I was a teenager. And now I’m here without him and there’s no way for me to make up for anything or ask for forgiveness or keep trying to be understanding to him because........ he was gone.
When I arrived at his apartment, I was met by the most disturbing news that we couldn’t view his body because he had actually died three days prior, and decomposition had now set in. He was no longer recognizable. All I could do was stand outside while his neighbors looked at us weeping, holding onto each other. My heart and mind were leaving as I wept in my aunt’s arms, his only sister. I tried to call Regina, but no answer so I called my uncle Jack and left a voice mail. The guilt that pervaded my being was slowly starting to creep onto me like a sickness or a flu.
I could feel it in my throat. I gently whispered at his body in the big black bag on the gurney as it rolled by, “No, dad, noo, dad nooo, my dad, noo, my dad, my dad.” Then hugged his only sister, looked around one last time, and continued crying as I drove back home in a cloud. My eldest daughter also weeping by my side. But it felt like I was alone in a desert.
I laid down in my bed, screaming into my pillow. My body jerking back and forth with each memory of childhood creeping in like a haunting movie. And all I could think was "oh my god I had cut him off and he was so sad". My eyes swollen shut from the nonstop crying. Three whole days I lay there. I sent my daughter away because I needed to be alone. I needed to figure this out and I didn’t want her seeing me in such turmoil. It was hurting her to hear me in pain, and I just didn’t want to hurt her too. Without even thinking about the hurt and pain my poor baby must too have been experiencing from losing her grandpa. I couldn’t think of anyone but me. My guilt. My fault. My decision to judge him.
I’m such a horrible person and I deserve to die too, my mind told me as I lay there thinking, remembering, losing my mind. I begged God to forgive me. I begged my dad to forgive me. I cried and cried some more. I fell asleep then woke up and cried some more. I laid there in deep thought slowly realizing my dad was an Angel. Because of his great suffering and life of service, he who had just left this world with a huge bang, was now with God. And finally, I realized I could understand all the pain and suffering in his life as a lesson for me to grow. Or it could be a curse for me to remain in pain within, to begin growing weeds of sorrow. Stagnation. Spawning self-hatred webs and I couldn’t do that with his memory. I couldn’t allow his beautiful soul to be remembered only in sorrow, I knew he was not a curse.
Slowly I pulled it back together enough to get up and go pee. In a cloud I got up and washed my face, but I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. The bouts of crying became less and less frequent though my mind continued to attempt to pull me back into the bed and made me feel my body so weak. I fought it off mostly by remembering the goodness of him and knowing that THIS, was his greatest gift to me. THIS is what he left us all. His legacy.
Death and loss were so completely new to me. To know that this is what loss feels like. THIS is what losing someone close to you is like, because I had never lost anyone close to me ever before, only older grandma’s that I had visited on a few occasions over the years. But their passing didn’t make me cry or feel bad.
I remembered dad telling me what it was like to be homeless on different occasions for many years. And in our time together, he'd told me stories about sleeping on the side of apartment buildings and finding warmth by sleeping in apartment laundry rooms as well. He liked to be in the Los Angeles, Westwood area, enjoying it’s very scenic and beautiful surroundings. He wanted to stay close to the VA hospital. Many times, he would pick me and Regina up to go see a movie and walk around downtown. Anytime he had any money or a car, which was rare, he spent it on us. He spent it on everyone. Because he had a kind heart and loved to see everyone having a good time on his dime.
Dad took care of us even though he was separated from us so often. When he received pay from the government for his knee injury, he made sure part of it was given to his three daughters. Though our mother always took our money for herself, even when we received money in gift cards. He made sure we got some. But I made sure to run away from her when he gave us all a large lump sum so she couldn’t take it. And I spent it with my eldest daughter’s father, when we were young teenagers.
I was remembering so much. One time we were all at Chuckie Cheeses to celebrate someone’s birthday, my dad's whole side of the family, cousins everywhere just having a great time when out of nowhere a giant fight broke out between our family and some other LA folks? I don’t even know what about but everyone in the establishment decided to get in on the brawl. And it just got crazy, like something you’d see in a movie. But looking back we’d all laugh together about it. It always made my dad laugh and proud that our family don’t play and if it came to throwin blows, they will be down.
The memories were starting to pull me out of the dark space but the only thing that brought me out of the pain and turmoil of guilt for having wronged him and then him passing and me missing my opportunity to make it right, was to receive his life and memories of time spent with him, as a gift. Because I literally felt like I deserved to die too. Some moments even passed through my mind that his death was my fault for not caring about him and for leaving him alone. But Regina comforted me by reminding me that he struggled long before and was now no longer struggling. Stressed and hustling for a buck, with strained relationships along the way, in essence he would no longer have to endure the pain almost all of us feel on a daily basis, he’s now resting in God’s arms.
And this heavy world was no longer weighing down upon his beautiful, kindhearted soul.
Chapter: The Way of The Masseuse
What’s a “masseuse”? I am. Hi!
Welcome. I’m Caroline, "The Masseuse.” And I’m so very glad to be here with you. And though I’d normally not so much want to introduce myself using this word, because let’s face it, the word “masseuse,” has generally been dragged through the gutters and perverted and is mostly currently used to refer to someone who uses massage as a means to be paid for sexual favors and all that jazz, I’m taking it back!! In the name of Love! In the name of healing.
Because the use of a word, is extensively important as the action behind it.
Allow me to explain. The Masseuse is gentle, attentive, very caring, careful, and aware of dedication to the work at all times. The energy we use helps us to control our pressure levels and timing. We have carefully become more aware of our movements and breathe. This practice gives us a means for strength in service. We’ve grown our attention to consideration, in order to keep the session focused on you. This is an area of control for US to practice. Loud exhales from our clients, tells us what is working. It’s a form of massage communications. It guides our awareness to painful areas on the body. It helps us gage the necessary amounts of pressure we need at many different points.
The masseuse is strong when necessary but relies greatly upon proper communications. The Masseuse is not abrasive with knuckle use unless necessary. Some parts of the session may be patterned out, but we often approach each section of the body at specific times for specific reasons, in order to fulfill the balancing and realigning of your bodily systems, muscles and layers.
The Masseuse will not work on your feet, then move on up to massage your face without first cleaning their hands or applying hand sanitizer, because ew.
The Masseuse wants you to feel amazing, relieved, relaxed and comfortable.
The Masseuse always speaks softly and gently, staying professional and attentive.
The Masseuse knows how to ignore an itch and fight off a sneeze, for the sake of maintaining the calm serenity and energy in the room as well as how to not break contact unless absolutely necessary.