How many of you have issues with being touched? My guess is that it is probably a big number. I have always had trouble with being touched by another person. It is unusual for my body to make physical contact with another person’s body in a day. I have worked hard to push past this for the sake of my son, who I don’t want to inherit my issues.
It took me years to be able to accept a hug without embarrassing myself. I would get stiff as a board as soon as I saw the arms coming. (That was a real problem at church, where women love to give hugs.) It was even worse if I didn’t see the hug coming.
I heard a sermon once about the importance of hugs and personal touch. The pastor said that a person needs something like 12 hugs a day to feel loved. I honestly could not remember the last time that I had been hugged, and it made me cry. I make a point of giving my son lots of healthy, loving touch – from tousling his hair when I walk by to giving him hugs and telling him that I love him. I am determined for this aversion to touch to end with me.
Despite the efforts I have made on behalf of my son, touch is simply not a part of my day-to-day life. I love to have my hair touched (and thoroughly enjoy trips to the beauty salon as a result). I also love it when someone touches my feet. However, the rest of me is “off limits.”
I know that I am not alone in this based upon the reactions of some of my offline friends who were also sexually abused as children. One is so uncomfortable with any form of touch that she will go several months between haircuts. It takes her a lot of emotional work to build up the courage to have her hair touched that much. I have another off-line friend who is very into sex, in part, because that is the only time in which she feels safe being touched. However, after the sex is over, she doesn’t want her lover touching any part of her.
I think the only way past this is to risk allowing another person to touch you and have positive experiences with it. The hardest part is that you cannot control the other person’s actions and reactions. Whenever I choose to initiate a hug, I doubt that the other person has any idea what it takes for me to do it.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt