Sunday, January 15, 2012

Separation of Church and State, as it were

I live in a small village inside a large city. In our village of Capitol Hill, many of us embody several roles, i.e. neighbor, client, doctor, friend, business owner. We have professional personas, private personas, business personas ... it can get tricky in ways that don't exist in more anonymous locations where folks are known mostly in one role or another.

I say I am a massage therapist, but the truth is that no one comes to see me more than once who is looking strictly for massage. People who become ongoing clients are looking for something more complicated. They come for spiritual counseling, energy work AND bodywork. They come for healing. This is my best thing, sitting with the things people tell me (you would not believe what people say before they get on the table!), dealing with the details of their illnesses, injuries, with the revelations that come to them when they're on the table. Just plain bodywork, without the counseling, listening, encouragement and energy work, would be intimate - as bodywork always is - yet I believe the sessions would be unremarkable.

May I say before I continue that Mama Gaia Reya, the name for my role as healer, is a beautiful experience for me as well. I am encouraging, positive, a careful listener. I implore my clients and students to forgive themselves and others, I take the high road. Ah, Mama Gaia Reya is really something!

Likewise here and on my other blog, what I decide to publish is a careful selection, including today's post, should say. People tend to say, "Reya I can't believe how you say EVERYTHING on your blog." I've said it before, let me say it again, I do NOT say everything! I am NOT saying everything today. God no way! I have a way of sounding personal when in fact my deepest secrets and truths are well hidden behind a smoke screen of theories, contemplations and philosophical discourses. I do that on purpose.

The regular, everyday me can be officious (ask my sisters), bossy, a terrible listener, judgmental, high-fallutin', pretentious, argumentative and sometimes just plain rude or even mean! I know some bloggers love being snarky on their blogs. I could be, trust me. But I'd rather put a different quality out onto the network. I try not to cultivate the parts of myself that aren't very nice, but they are there, of course. Makes sense, right?

No matter how often my clients and students say they understand this reality, somehow, somewhere inside, they don't believe it. When I've attempted to become friends with people who came to me originally to study the Art, or for healing, it always ends in disaster when I relax and begin to relate to them from my wholeness rather than a selected role. At that moment, I'm feeling enough trust in the other person to reveal my less than noble personality traits. It's always a big mistake. They are so SHOCKED to find out how deeply flawed I really am. And then things go downhill fast, next thing you know they are no longer coming for bodywork, AND they hate me. It is not pleasant for either of us, I can assure you. Holy cow.

Brother Eagle tells me I do a great disservice to my students and clients by trying to become their friends. This morning, I am at last seeing the wisdom of this boundary. Oh Brother Eagle, you are so wise! Thank you for continually repeating this message to me. At last, I've got it! Clean boundaries are healthy. I'm going to clean up my act in this area of my life at last. I will be proud in a healthy way. Thank you!

And to the rest of you, thank you for listening!


ellen abbott said...


Cyndy said...

It's got to be tricky, especially with the very personal services that you provide in your work, to decide the right amount of professional distance to keep with your clients without seeming distant or unfriendly. But it's very necessary, especially when they are coming to your house, to establish boundaries that feel right to you.

It's amazing to me how much those boundaries can vary from one person to the next. My husband, nice guy that he is, has had to learn that I am not comfortable having random out-of-town students who he just met coming upstairs to "see the house" in person. Sheesh! I guess that's what I get for having a house blog.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks. Candy yeah - they come to my house now. Wow.

I don't try to be friends with every client, btw.

steven said...

there's a space created in service that allows for a quality of intimacy which carries that double-edge sword of friendship and care. ideally, the two aren't mutually exclusive are they! i find that with my students as i nurture them along and it feels like friendship but it's entirely something other . . . . it's a quality of care that has more to do with reaching across the space. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Steven. Perfectly said.

In the village, friendships do develop out of the kinds of relationships that would usually be monochromatic, but I haven't been skillful with that side of the equation. I am learning!