More than 2 years ago I received inner guidance to do Healing Massage sessions for men. I had been doing healing bodywork for about 7 years at this point but I had worked mostly with women.
I put an ad out and despite providing a clear description of the nature of the service and that it was non-sexual, I received call after call asking, "Will I be wearing any clothes? Will you touch my penis? Can I touch you? Do you do hand release? Will you accept extra money for hand release?
Knowing how to respond to these requests without judgement was quite difficult, but I worked through a lot of the judgement and anger that I was feeling about it and instead chose to get curious. I took on that I was ready to understand more about men and that this was the start of it.
A turning point occurred for me when a man I would have called 'creepy' rang one day. He asked if I would inadvertently touch his genitals during the massage. I said I didn't do that but I asked him, without judgment, if that was what he was looking for. He then openly shared about his strict Catholic upbringing, about all the guilt and shame he carries with him everyday around his sexual feelings and how he just wants to be free of it. I explained to him there are experts who deal with sexual shame and I passed on the number of a Sexological Bodyworker I know. At the end of the call he expressed deep gratitude for my genuine kindness and understanding and sent me a lovely follow up text.
It was a shift in that I didn't need to take those requests personally anymore. I let go of my resistance and found myself moving more into curiosity and compassion with these men.
From then on the types of enquiries I was receiving, began to change. I was now getting calls from men who were in genuine need of massage, men who were stressed and just wanted nurturing, therapeutic and pampering touch.
As I worked with more men, I started to see patterns in them - patterns of tension, areas where they were shut down, emotional blockages and so much more. I saw the sensitive side of men, their pain, their vulnerability and all the holding on they do. So many men are suffering because they are expected to be tough, to be manly. I could see the tender boy inside each of them, who was yearning to be loved and acknowledged, appreciated and soothed. With my acceptance and reassuring touch, men were starting to melt under my hands, they sighed, some roared and others cried. Many times I drove home crying myself as I realised how hard it is for a lot of men, how lonely and isolating it can be for many of them.
As the work unfolded, I realised that the men who are coming to see me are actually seeking to connect with the suppressed and dormant parts of themselves. Even if they don't acknowledge it, they are craving deeper and more fulfilling connections with others where they can express these aspects of themselves too. Many of them are in unsatisfying relationships and don’t know how to ask for what they need. Single men who come to see me either lack the confidence or the know how to create the experiences they desire. These men are allowing me to guide them through a process that is awakening years of repressed feelings, emotions and desires and it's been incredible to witness.
Most of the men coming to me are struggling to let themselves be with their sensitivity. What I am learning is that men feel as deeply as women do, they have rich emotional needs and a strong yearning to let go of control and surrender to more vulnerable states of being (if they allow themselves to). It's been mind-blowing and a privilege to see how men are responding to my work and loving touch.
All of this is showing me how confusing it can be to be a male in this day and age. A lot of men are still wearing the mask required of them by society, yet what I am valuing and appreciating through this work, is the extent to which men are beginning to allow themselves to be with their sensitivity, to open up and let themselves feel what is going on in their inner world.
Through this process of validating men's experiences through hands on touch, men are giving themselves permission to be with all their yearnings and feel what is true for them. I can see how much relief it is providing and how men are starting to value themselves in a way they haven't before.
Unfortunately society's narrative about men makes it difficult for them to safely explore themselves and they end up walking a fine line between being called weak and feeble or domineering and arrogant.
At the end of the day, most men just want to feel loved, accepted and desired for all their humanity.
Let's support our men to feel safe enough to explore, own and accept all aspects of themselves.
With love Tracy
Photo credit - Ryan Holloway (top) John Noonan (below)