One afternoon, when I was about nine years old, a friend of the family who was visiting stubbed her toe. Concerned she may have broken it, she sat at the wood dining table with her foot on her husband’s lap while he gently held her foot, inspecting the toe, feeling around it as gingerly as possible with his fingers. I stood nearby watching the scene intently, concerned for our friend’s toe and making an important life decision. I was never going to get married because my husband may have to touch my feet. One possible future path rejected right then and there.
Over the years, inventing excuses to decline friends’ invitations to join them for pedicures has forced me to become very creative. “Sorry, I’ll be inventing a new cooking method that day.” “Wearing polish on my toes is against my religion.” “My sister is planning a surprise party for me and I’m in on the secret. Shhh.” “I’m planning to be arrested that day.”
A few years ago, I suffered severe pain from a bunion. Doctor appointments were excruciating–not because of the pain in my foot, but from the anxiety felt as the doctor and x-ray technicians examined my foot. I asked the surgeon if he could perform the surgery without touching my foot. Could he perform the surgery on a photograph of my foot? Good thing he has a sense of humor.
A few months after the surgery (on the actual toe–not a photo), when I asked my husband to please help me stretch my toe as necessary to help in healing, I was brought back to the years-ago scene at the wood dining table . I felt I may owe an explanation to the nine-year-old version of myself for ignoring the resolution she made that day so long ago.
Yesterday, I had a major breakthrough. I had my first full-body massage. Yep. Feet included. Two friends and I are currently on a girls trip. My friends were planning massages and scrubs before soaking in the hot springs and I really wanted to be one of the cool kids, too. At first, I asked for only a neck/shoulder massage, but the appeal of a free pass to the hot springs pools was simply too irresistible. Full-body massage, it is. My friend, Donna, mentioned the foot massage and I began to panic a bit. A stranger touching my body was one major hurdle to overcome, but OMG–the feet!?!?
I’m very happy to report that my very first massage went very well. Until the foot massage portion. Pretty sure my whole relaxed body tensed up immediately upon the initial rub of the heel. However, I didn’t stop him. Can’t evaluate or comment on something you didn’t experience. Once the feet were done, the body relaxed once again and my head could continue to enjoy the soothing background music.
While I don’t think I’m cured of this unknown phobia of people touching my feet, I do think I’ve made some progress. An Internet search reveals that others suffer from this affliction as well, but I’ve been unable to find a support group. Hello, my name is Joyce and I don’t want anyone to touch my feet. Really. Don’t Touch My Feet.