As it has been said before the human body needs touch. There is actually a physical need for it.
About a month ago I wrote an article about touch and my journey to being okay with touch. The article was quite a success and people wanted to hear more. So this is where I am at from the last time I wrote.
I wrote about my associate who hugged me until I cried like a baby, my friend who did an oil treatment on my hair, and my teacher that has us to massages on each other. I was not 100% comfortable with any of these things but I am learning to talk about it openly. I notice since I acknowledged that I had a problem with touch, I have had more opportunities to be touched in a positive way.
I started getting more and more ill with a heart abnormality which lead to me not working and being home resting. My associate, the same woman who hugged me that I tried to push away, was very worried. Being a doctor herself, she knows what this could mean for me. She went to go out of town and decided to make food for me before she left. I met her and she gave me food and I talked to her for a few minutes. She was about to turn away and I realized that I was suddenly missing that odd thing that makes me feel awkward... I was missing touch. So I continued to talk even though it was obvious that she had to go-- I asked her if she was going to be in Michigan when I had my surgery.. she sighed and replied "No, I won't be back in town until the day after". We shared a sorrowful look with one another, when I think she realized what I was waiting for. She looked at me and smiled and said "Tell me what you want". I have to admit, those words were tough to speak.. finally I looked at my feet and said "Well, since you are leaving.. give me a hug". She laughed and said "I never thought I would hear you say such a thing!". She then leaned in a hugged me tight, and when I went to let go and push her away, she held on a little longer.
I had my surgery a few days later, which did not turn out as planned but life is never what we plan for it to be. As I cried and cried after the surgery I felt that need to be touched even though my mind kept screaming that it didn't want to be touched. Sadly, I let my mind win and didn't try to hug anyone or be hugged.
There are times I must admit where I wonder if I will ever get over this, but there are days and situations that are easier than others. My husband came home and the first hug, the "homecoming hug" as us military families call it, was wonderful. It wasn't until that initial "Oh my God my husband is within a couple feet of me" wore off, I became standoffish again. He kept hugging on me and kissing on me- which is a normal thing. It is a completely wonderful thing- but I was uncomfortable. I sat there trying to push through telling myself "Women would love to be you! Women would die to just have a man who truly loves them hugging and holding them and not care who sees.. but me?". I love my husband and I love that he is affectionate, once I opened up and told him I was having trouble, he understood and gave me a little bit of space. I got used to him being home over the next day or two. Then I found that I started longing for him to hug me and him to kiss on me. "Progress, I thought to myself.. progress."
I went up to school the next weekend and Dr. Baker did the dreaded "Everyone massage each other's necks and shoulders" command. As we all got up to massage each other, my entire body wanted to fold on in itself. I literally had to will my body to get up, I could feel Dr. Baker's eyes on me as I looked up. I nodded at her and allowed my classmate to rub on my shoulders. "Breathe" I told myself "Just Breathe through it". And then they came.. tears... "Again??" I thought to myself. A tear or two was all that it took for Dr.Baker to notice and smile at me. I had no problem massaging my classmates as usual. This weekend though, Dr.Baker took every possible opportunity to touch me. If she walked past me she would but her hand on my shoulder, as I cringed, and she would continue talking and teaching. As the weekend went on, I began to be okay with her touching me. I wouldn't jump as badly or get as tense.
When my husband went back home, I cried for two hours. Everything suddenly felt cold. I wrapped myself up in blankets but still didn't feel warm. I missed his touch... Wow something to think about.. I missed his touch..
I had school again this last weekend. I was very vocal with my roommates about not liking touch. At a naturopathic medical school-- people are lovey, touchy, etc. Everyone always wants to touch you and hug you... especially when you share a room with your friends. They gave me the taps on the back and hand resting on my back. Oddly it didn't feel so terrible. I even allowed one of them to do a headache release on me. It took me a few minutes to be okay with each touch, but once I began to be okay with it the touch would end.
Right now my friend who puts oil in my hair is out of town and she has been gone for over a month now. I miss her. I miss it when she puts oil in my hair. I miss her touch...
So I am at a point where I still don't want to be touched but I am slowly longing for it. There is the thought, "I wish I could have oil put in my hair", "I wish I could fall asleep in my husband's arms", "I wish I could have a massage to help with my neck pain", "I wish this, I wish that". It is taking time but I am forcing myself to learn how to be okay with being touched. I find tears falling from my eyes during hugs or massages. Today I didn't get the greatest news from my cardiologist and I felt like I wanted touch.. I wanted a meaningful hug. I did hug but I still wanted to pull away and run. I think my body is telling me that I need touch to help me to heal, even though my mind is resistant.
Someday I won't pull away, someday I will lean in..
Am I slowly opening up?
Food for thought
Who am I?
My name is Jessica Kellaway! I'm a dog loving, earth conscious, recycling, tree hugging, breast feeding, cloth diapering, whole food eating, semi-vegetarian weirdo! I am a Nutritionist, Holistic Health Coach, Personal Trainer, and Naturopathic Practitioner. I am currently attending school to be a Naturopathic Doctor!