I now have this fairly cushy spa gig, where I'm the only massage therapist on duty during my particular shift. It's a really nice spa which mainly focuses on skin care, so massage is almost an afterthought, but I'm working really hard to shift that perception, one massage and client at a time. ;)
So far it's not been very taxing, except for my first day where I subbed for the call-out and got thrown in with no prep. Business has been slow and I don't mind.
What gets me is my volunteer work.
Two hours a week I go into Boston and massage people from a pretty marginalized population. I'm sorry I'm being so vague, but I really can't go into detail without potentially giving away the organization I volunteer for, which defeats the purpose of this whole "anonymous blogging" gig, not to mention it risks violating my clients' privacy.
Physically the work is generally very easy, I've only had a couple of clients who've wanted deep tissue massage, but emotionally...it's been harrowing.
I've had clients experience emotional breakdowns during the massage session, sobbing and covering their faces. I've had clients relate traumatic events to me. I had a client tell me that he feels more comfortable talking to me than his therapist.
Touch is a powerful force, and I will never abuse it. And as difficult as these sessions might be for me, my clients are the ones who have lived through experiences I hope I never will, and are dealing daily with problems I can only view from the outside, for which I'm truly grateful.
All I can do is give them the best massage I possibly can, listen empathetically, and offer tissues, not platitudes. Hopefully that's enough.