I am exhausted. Je suis crévée! I am lying face down on a massage table, my face fitting just in the hole designed to cradle my face whilst I experience soft oils trickling down my body, hopefully to drift off into rejuvenating sleep. As I allow some stranger to stroke my bare flesh, I would expect to experience loosening relaxation. My reveries pines for the sooth of hot stones to release tension from my lower back muscles from sitting too much….
Cupping is à la mode at the moment, simply because someone well known is seen with circular bruises on his back. I scoffed at the shallowness of the world – cupping has been around in China for centuries. But, if I cannot beat them, why not join them? So, instead of a massage today, I decided on cupping to release the dampness and wind from the bod, or so the theory goes. I lie there waiting for the masseuse to dip the cotton ball into alcohol and alight the flame for the cups, wondering which newspaper might be interested in my purple stains after those 20 minutes.
The innocence of those transparent cups sitting stoic in the basin deceived me. One alighted and turned on my back, they sucked my flesh into the vacuum. Each cup pulled upwards, but in different directions. Each cup represented a force from every group of people I was associated with for my work, my writing, my home, my social life, and my bubble of illusion. Each had a deafening roar for me to follow, to conform. I tried to hold on to my individuality, to what I believe is me, to keep my skin intact and whole, holding the different circular baubles together on my back.
The collective upward force of the cups rammed my body down into the bed, was this called action-reaction? I was not sure – I nearly failed high school physics, but that is another story. My neck was shoved into the side of the face hole as each additional cup exerted exponential force (what happened to diminishing marginal pain?). I choked, but could not cough. I was unable to move even my arms because of those little cups that leeched on to my skin. Such harmless-looking round beings transformed into excruciating paralysis.
My mind defragmented at that point. Encumbrance was upon me. Responsibilities hammered down on my shoulders like metal weights on glass. I was spilling over into fatigue. The sense of dread to make sure there would be enough beer for Timmie while I set off on another business trip, enough milk for PLPL, enough kibbles for Bamboo, enough toilet paper for the home…. Had I packed my sports shoes and bank card, the new offer of work that just came through required me to send through a contract, when do I chase the contacts for their contacts, would I make enough to pay the rent this month, when should we go back for marriage counselling, what do I write in my paper….?
Endless trivial matters that demanded attention and prioritization, all of which I brought upon myself. It was my decision to get married, it was my reluctant concession to have a baby, it was my idea to set up and develop Bearapy. Now that I have a life on my shoulders that I am responsible for, it would be against my nature to ignore it, so I ensure I create the optimum environment for PLPL to grow, to be independent, to explore, to debate, to negotiate how many candies she could have every 5 minutes, to tell her about airplanes with as much patience I could muster for the 100th time, to cuddle for those precious few moments in the dark before I put her in her cot, bunny in her hand, cover her with a blanket she had approved of, and kiss her nose goodnight.
But I am so tired. I want to stop and take a break from this treadmill that I decided to get on and set the speed for. I feel a mass of responsibilities not just from myself, but from those around me, closest to me. I feel responsible for their lives, guilty for not being able to take up more. I feel like I am living in the marriage for both of us, sponging up the crap in the name of a vow we both made a few years ago. I feel like i am always the one initiating friends to meet up, to check up on them, to see if they were doing well. I seem to be chasing after everyone, carrying their crosses for fear if I did not, they would not talk to me again.
I cannot hold the world on myself. I wonder how much of it is put on me because I was willing to take it up, and how much of it I sought and lay the heft on myself simply because I could?
I have reached melting point. The massage oil is too hot on my skin, scorching every millimeter where the drop of colloid surface meets my skin. The masseuse squeezed my back to let air in through the sides of the little cups, plucking them off my back one by one. A moment of relief, for I could breathe again. I clambered home in the dark after self-inflicted discomfort. I could blame no one else; I even paid to undergo those 20 minutes pain so there is no excuse to victimise myself.
Getting home, I stared at my back in the mirror, disappointed that the bruises were not more dramatic or purple hued with black. Those little cups bashed my delicate veneer without mercy, leaving round welts scattered from my neck all the way down to my buttocks. I cannot hold on to this mask of strength or guarded professionalism any longer. Others can take ownership of their crap – it is not my burden to carry.
I will deal with my own shit, and chuck what is not mine off – this is my ultimate responsibility to myself.
But still, I must throw on some clothes over my naked body.