Kwabena Foli once said that he knew he was meant to be a healer because he kept falling in love with broken people. The moment I read this line, I completely understood what he meant. I spent years of my life as broken as the people that I was trying to fix, and largely unaware that this was the case.
Looking back, I see now that it was not a single, dramatic event that triggered the intense changes that I have been undergoing for the last five years, but rather a series of seemingly insignificant moments that altered the course of my life forever.
Each moment prepared me for the next until finally, a window of opportunity opened, and for some odd reason or another I chose to do something different instead of something familiar.
On a highly uninteresting day in August of 2011 I hunkered-pale, sweaty and sickly- on the edge of a toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom of a house that I had somehow ended up sleeping in for a number of weeks.
I had just come out of a sickness known as cotton fever, and my relief to be free of the mind numbing pain and discomfort soon gave way to an intense bitterness as I stared out the window at a beautiful summers day. The sun was playing off of the vivid green trees, painting the ground in ribbons of gold.
An unused swing set sat in the middle of the backyard, bringing back memories of childhood. The fact that the innocent and gleeful child that had once swung from a set quite like this with giddy abandon had grown up to be spending her day sick and miserable in the bathroom of a house that she could not call her home filled me with a sadness far worse than the agony that I had just suffered.
I was no longer capable of enjoying simple pleasures. Other people my age were outside hiking trails, hosting barbeques, and playing volleyball on the beach, and I awoke each day drug sick, racking my exhausted brain to find a way to put more poison into my aching body. I had no time to sit in the sun and feel its warmth on my face.
In fact, I could not remember the last time that the sun was a thing to be embraced rather than endured. I knew that something had to change, but I had no idea how to make it happen, nor did I have the energy to try. I told myself in that moment that if this was what my life was going to be, I was better off dead. It was the first time since my teenage years that I felt comforted by the idea of not existing.
Nothing changed that day, but the first flicker of resolve was ignited that afternoon, and that flame grew quietly inside my chest, gaining momentum until circumstances beyond my control brought me back to the waiting room of a local detoxification unit that I had been a patient in just months earlier.
As I watched the now familiar video playing on an endless loop on the television screen in the corner of the little room, discussing brain chemistry and the argument of choice, and waiting for a nurse to call me into a back office and decide my fate, I did not know that my life was about to change dramatically. I am glad that I did not know. Sick as I was at that time, I may have abandoned my pursuit of comfort, safety and shelter and run, wild eyed, back into the familiar storm that was quite literally raging outside.
The events that unfolded from that point on were so perfectly orchestrated that even a nonbeliever would be hard-pressed to argue against the existence of some sort of higher power. My experience getting clean from heroin and other drugs taught me that there are certain things in life that cannot be explained, but that does not make them any less real.
It also taught me that, when I follow the natural progression of my life instead of trying to fight it, life happens easily and effortlessly. That is not to say that life is devoid of all challenge; challenges are life’s teachers, but in order to be a good student, we must be willing to take the correct classes.
As a youth I was a promising student and writer who chose to step off the path most travel in favor of years of hedonistic gratification, unaware of the misery that awaited me. I did not grow up with everything that I wanted, but I had everything that I needed. I did not grow up with two parents, but my mother did the job of two with grace, dignity and a courage and strength that most imagine they do not possess until they are forced to call upon it.
I did not accept the world or reality as it was, and I spent a long time resisting life, preferring to chase adventure and chaos as surely as I chased my next drug. I dove into the dark underbelly of society and made my home in the beast, and I became so comfortable there that I did not recognize that it was beginning to consume me.
I will be forever grateful to the mysterious forced that saved me, at a time when I did not have the capacity to save myself. I believe that that force has a plan for me, and following that plan has led me to pursue a career in healing, the next phase of which is massage and polarity, an energy healing technique also taught as part of the Holistic Massage program that I am about to begin.
I have spent the past five years healing myself so that I may be in a position to heal others. I am still attracted to broken people, but today I am attracted to people who want to do something about it, and I understand that nothing that is broken is beyond mending. Leonard Cohen said it best: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
I have worked very hard to reconnect with the child that once soared toward that blue sky, fearlessly pumping her legs to propel her swing toward greater and greater heights. I have discovered that I know her best as my intuition, and that she speaks to me when I am quiet and centered, open to her wisdom and guidance. I know that my life’s purpose is to cultivate my intuition and nourish that little girl inside of me, and to help others to do the same.
Today I understand more deeply than ever that we are all connected, and that by helping others I also help myself. Every act of love and kindness ripples out across the Oceans and Skies, reaching the hearts of every being on this vast earth, and perhaps beyond. In a time when the darkness is so much easier to see, we must all seek the light within ourselves and share it with those so lost in their own darkness that their light cannot remember how to shine.
I currently work in the substance abuse treatment field, but I am now being called to other forms of healing. My first step along this new and exciting path was to begin the process of being certified as a Reiki practitioner. As I continue to develop my Reiki, I see massage as a natural complement to the practice. I firmly believe that some pain and trauma is so deeply rooted in our being that it cannot be healed through analyzing and sharing alone.
It must be healed through direct work on the body, either through physical contact such as massage, or vibrational contact through energy healing. Many view massage as a mechanical way to loosen up knots and kinks in our muscles, but do not appreciate the truly remarkable physical and psychological healing that comes about through this process.
The benefit of releasing toxins from body tissue is widely accepted in American society, but the healing power of safe, non-sexual touch is often overlooked. In an average day, many of us will shake multiple hands, but how many of us will give or receive a hug, or a kiss on the cheek?
Most are not accustomed to receiving these things from someone as an expression of compassion and healing, but rather associate them with sex and manipulation. The simple act of receiving a loving touch with no expectations or intent other than to relax and soothe is a profoundly healing experience, and one that I feel blessed to be able to offer.
It is my belief that, having the three healing modalities of massage, Reiki and polarity at my disposal will allow me to provide clients a well-rounded service, taking into consideration their unique needs and goals during each session, and creating the personalized experience that they need at that time.
I am not sure that I can name the three major factors that have determined my goal of becoming a massage therapist, because I did not choose massage. It chose me, and I am simply answering the call.
It is only natural to be a bit fearful when taking a risk in life, no matter how sure one is that they are fulfilling their life’s calling. Questions naturally arise; Will I be able to build a strong client base? What if I put all of this time and energy into massage school and then find that I do not love it? What if I cannot live on this income alone and must work multiple jobs?
Another large motivating factor when choosing massage as my next step is the idea of a flexible work schedule which will allow me to continue to pursue different healing modalities and passions of mine (of which I have many). What if I am not able to have the type of flexibility that I anticipate and desire?
What I have learned over the years is that fear comes from a lack of faith. I am certain of one thing, and it is the only thing that I need to know: when I follow my path in life with passion and purpose, I am never in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Life has led me to massage, and I feel in my bones that this is the right and necessary choice for me. If it is meant to be, as I believe it is, the Universe will support my advancement and help to make this happen.
Is massage the end of my journey? I cannot answer this, for I do not know what the future holds. My path is illuminated one step at a time, and my job is not to plan my future steps, but rather to take the step right in front of me. It is not my job to write the script, though I may need to write an essay or two! God writes the script, and all it asks of me is that I show up and play my part.
Thank you for taking the time to read this essay, and for all that you do to help aspiring healers such as myself walk their respective paths.
With love and light,
My name is Kassia Kristoff, and I am a writer, amateur photographer, energy worker and healer. I am preparing to embark on the next leg of my journey, pursuing a career as a massage therapist. I am eager to combine the massage techniques and polarity therapy that I will be learning at my new school with the Reiki practice that I am starting to build. I have overcome many obstacles in my life, and through this process I have come to believe that the purpose of all of my struggles and challenges was to prepare me to help others through their own struggles.
We are all put on this Earth to learn and to grow in tandem with one another. My pain is your pain, and your joy is my joy. I have found that, throughout it all, the only thing that truly matters in the end is love. My journey to self-love, painful as it sometimes has been, is an ongoing process.
As I help others to love themselves, my love and compassion for myself grows equally. I have included a link to a blog that I started a few months ago in an attempt to nurture the writer inside of me who was silenced for years by my demons. I hope that it will help all who read it to get to know me a little better. I have bared my soul in some of those posts, something that I would never have dared do in years past.
Today I accept myself as I am, and do not seek to hide any piece of myself from others. I believe that it is important for people to understand that there is nothing about an honest sharing of the spirit that is cause for shame. Every piece of our lives is beautiful, because it fits into the magnificent puzzle of our earthly experience.