Every few months I send an email message to my clients. I focus the message on a single letter and write to it. I call it a bodysherpa’s alphabet, named for my massage practice.
F is for Fascia. For Free. G is for Grace. For Gratitude and Gifts. H is for Home. For Heart. For Help and Healing.
Today’s started, “V is for Valentine. For Voice.”
I had the idea I would write about how I really don’t care for Valentine’s Day. Never have. I would offer $14 off the price of a massage during the month of February. I would write about finding my voice through my blogging and invite my clients to it.
“In grade school we decorated brown paper sacks with doilies and red and pink construction paper, making “mailboxes” for our Valentines.
Some of my teachers insisted we give a Valentine to every student in the class. It was supposed to make everyone feel good. Feel equal. It was one of those good-intended policies that doesn’t translate in the real world. Not everyone is equally equal. Not everyone gets a Valentine. At least not at the same time.”
I continued, writing about choosing the most special card from the pack and giving it to Joey Lash or Tom Hallett or James Lark. Wearing my heart on my sleeve at just nine-years-old and hoping and praying it wouldn’t get crushed.
I wrote about coming downstairs in the morning to breakfast and finding a heart-shaped box filled with Russell Stover or Whitman’s chocolates, right next to my juice glass and multivitamin. How it was a potent reminder that I didn’t have a sweetheart. That the only Valentine I was getting was from my mom and dad. How it didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy and loved, as they had intended.
I wrote about the pressure I felt when I was a part of a couple. The sense that there was a certain way to show love and romance on this one special day of the year. And that more often than not, we would decide not to celebrate. Or to only give one another a card. How this was me making certain my heart didn’t end up on my sleeve again…all crumpled up.
I wrote that I saved the Valentine’s Day cards my ex-husband and I gave one another our last year together. That I couldn’t throw them out. That they used to live in a box marked “treasures,” but now they live in a black, plastic file box with a grey handle instead.
And then I went looking for them.
In my searching I got clarity and the good sense to realize this was not the message for my clients. It didn’t feel light, instill a sense of trust and hope. It wasn’t an invitation to come to my table and receive love and care. So I stopped.
Turns out the cards I went looking for aren’t from Valentine’s Day. They are from our 10-year-wedding anniversary – our last together.
Mine to Lee is green with gingko leaves, and the words “Never say no to a great idea.” Inside it reads “Everything is worth a shot because anything is possible.” His to me is a photograph of a white cat hugging a Chihuahua. Both are standing erect on hind paws. Inside it reads “In our own weird way, we work.”
I’m not sure why I still have them. As a reminder that once upon a time we were a happy couple? Clearly we weren’t anymore. I re-read our messages to one another. They are heartbreakingly sad. Our words heavy with the knowledge that our marriage is over but neither of us quite able to speak it yet.
Really, I don’t need these cards to remind me of what my life once was. I am reminded often enough – in these little, seemingly insignificant ways that knock me out.
Today at Jiffy Lube. After I nix the recommended cleaning of my fuel injection system, the service technician asks if I want to change my address. He turns the screen to me: 1308 West Wheeler Street, Seattle, WA.
Surprisingly, I don’t well up. My heart just hurts.
A few weeks ago. I am putting sheets on my new bed. White with pale green, blue and brown stripes. I notice one pillowcase is darker than the other. It is Lee’s pillowcase, ever so slightly discolored from the oils of his hair and skin.
The hurt shoots through me again. The hurt of “Remember when you were a ‘we?’ Remember when you used to share a bed?” I feel a catch in my chest, like a rib is out of place. Breathing feels a little bit painful. My movements are gingerly so as to not create more pain.
I need a cardiac chiropractor for my heart.
The adjustment is amazingly simple. I buy new sheets. Pewter colored. Calvin Klein. I wash and fold the striped set and give them away. I change my address at Jiffy Lube. I start a new client newsletter.