Sometimes in the midst of suffering and trauma, one will find profound joy and imminent transformation. I know that might sound difficult to create in your mind, especially if one is trudging through a traumatic event currently in their life, but I will attest that it can be done, because it did happen for me.
In 2017, I found the courage to run away from an abusive marriage with a narcissistic addict in an attempt to find myself again. I located a house to rent, hired two moving men, and on a morning when I knew I would be alone for a few hours, I planned my escape. I packed only what I could grab quickly, including my beloved pets, and fled to another state; Connecticut.
Trauma has plagued my entire life since childhood. It had been all I ever knew and was conditioned to know. I learned self-perseverance mechanisms at an early age, and unfortunately continued a cycle of abuse with many relationships, including my marriage. When it’s all you know, it becomes literally all you know.
I am grateful that I had some cobblestones of psychotherapy throughout my life, because I believe if it wasn’t for that, I do not think I would have had the bravery to leave my marriage and decide I needed a better and healthier life. Just what that “better life” was, what was foreign to me. I was about to learn what better was, in a very profound way.
I spent almost two years in my new location. After settling in my new home, finding my way in the new community and making new friends, I was beginning to restart my life. One evening, while mindlessly on Google, I had a sudden and instinctual calling to find a massage school.
I cannot explain why completely, but I needed to do something that made me feel good and bring joy to my heart.
Feeling at Home
In 2019 I found Cortiva Institute Massage & Beauty School in Newington, CT, (Cortiva later moved to Cromwell, Connecticut), and as soon as I walked into the building I felt this incredible sensation of what being home would have felt like.
Cortiva was this warm and inviting place. It was not just the structural environment, but the way admissions said hello or the smiles that were so genuine. The handshake that you felt in your core. The encouragement, even when you felt like an utter failure and was not good enough, was so welcoming.
Being in a massage school was definitely the cliché of peace and serenity. But, it was so much more than that to me. It not only lifted my spirits higher, but it almost felt like a cleansing. The energy has forever burned inside me from that initial day.
The school, the staff, my classmates; it was family. Every single person I worked with helped me work through and grow from all my traumas. It was so emotional and transitioning for me.
Getting on a table, unclothed, having anyone touch me, was so daunting and so uncomfortable. I was vulnerable, I was insecure, I was fearful, and I was broken mentally, emotionally, and even physically. But not my spirit, I still held onto a hope that my life would get better, even with my fears and anxieties and internalized failures.
My first month of school was tough, but with the help of my newly found supportive educational family, I was awakened. I didn’t just re-find myself, I started to actually build a whole new being.
Learning to Trust
Massage taught me how to be secure and safe. It taught me how to build trust, not just in my peers, but in myself. When I entered the school on day one I thought I was being trained to help others.
That statement surely changed after the first semester. It taught me how to help myself and what I could give to others, which was a tool to place in their personal toolbox for them to grow on their own. Massage therapy is not just about a spa day, or about getting a knot out in the upper back, massage therapy is a nurturing and loving therapy that awakens the connection between the body and the mind; that super neural highway in the human framework.
During my 17 months at Cortiva (COVID-19 extended my time at school), I spent all my time focused on absorbing as much information as I could, asking a ton of questions, and dedicating myself completely and entirely to the education, not just for myself, but also for my future clients. I strived to become a caring massage therapist because I found my “calling” while at school.
Massage therapy opened my mind and self-care greatly, and in turn also opened my self-worth, confidence, and internal trust. It transformed me from a meek caterpillar into a flourishing butterfly. Human touch with care and warmth fed my starving need for emotional and mental nourishment.
I discovered how massage therapy can have a great impact on trauma-related pathologies, and I began to utilize myself as a guinea pig to research and test my theories. Piecing together how sensory tools can work together collectively, (touch thru massage, essential oils through smell, colored light thru vision, meditative binaural music thru sound), I revealed for myself how incredibly calm I became; a plethora of moments of beingness and mental/body awareness. It was awe inspiring to not just see but feel how my central nervous system could reset through the use of massage therapy.
With much time and repetition, my ability to pull myself back from an anxiety attack and be mindful of triggers, was an amazing and exponential growth for me. When I graduated school, I deeply and passionately wanted to begin my practice with a specialty in trauma and massage therapy. SOLACE massage LLC “trauma informed bodywork” was then born.
Flash forward to 2021. I am one year in private practice and since my initial education I have taken several CEU courses on anxiety and PTSD disorders, certifications on trauma informed care, and will be embarking on a new journey in the future for Somatic Experiencing, SE ® training. My treatment space is a chrysalis for my clients. It is to provide a safe, ethical, comforting and relaxing environment to all who enter. It is a place to provide therapeutic, integrative and tailored bodywork to fit a client’s individual and personal need.
“The body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. This is the stuff that shapes us and gives us both stability and mobility.” – Richard Ennis, M.S. Certified Advanced Rolfer™, Structural Integration, Licensed Massage Therapist
It is not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Massage therapy is a tool to aide you to grow, evolve, and transform. You can then begin to embrace your beautiful changes and learn how to fly.
About the Author
Tina Quatroni is the owner of her private practice, SOLACE massage LLC, located in Milford, Connecticut. She specializes in trauma informed bodywork and incorporates sensory work and breathing techniques in her sessions. She was licensed as a massage therapist in 2020 is a Certified Trauma Professional. She continues various CEUs on trauma related pathologies and awareness and is planning a near future training in Somatic Experiencing to become an SE practitioner.