Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Touch

I've always wanted to be touched. As a little girl, I can remember the decadent luxury of snuggling up to my mother. And I remember distinctly the day that I was told that I was too old to snuggle in public.

I don't know if it was just my family, but it feels a bit more pervasive. I think that touch was not really encouraged of midwestern Scandanavians. Having been to Iowa for funerals in the past several years, it's been startling how little people touch. Even to hug one another in greeting is short and awkward.

When I was in my teens, it was almost painful. I can remember curled in my bed thinking about what I had just learned about touch deprivation and failure to thrive in children. I wondered if it was possible that I would die from lack of touch. I didn't, of course.

When I joined Lutheran Volunteer Corps, I was a little stunned by how it was that people would hug one another. It was a little like getting drunk to go to a retreat and have so many people come up to hug me. I had a hard time, for a long time, being comfortable as the initiator of a hug or any other kind of contact.

This is one of the things about S that I so love. He likes to touch. He encourages PDA. We hold hands or I'll touch his back. He likes to stroke my arm or we touch our heads together. We snuggle together and sleeping with him is lovely with our bodies connected somewhere.

It's a bit strange to me, looking back, to know that I wasn't touched much. But my parents rarely touched one another. I don't think I've ever seen them hold hands, and the couple of times that I saw them kiss was startling. It makes me sad for them.

I used to imagine, before I was seeing S, Freyja or Freyr spooning me. It was a comfort when I felt alone and wanting touch. It was a prayer and a communion. I've needed that comfort less now because I can actually have the touch that I so crave.

3 comments:

Mariellen said...

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about touch and families. I realized a few days ago that I can't remember a time, ever, when my mother held me or touched me in a comforting way. The only times she touched me at all were when she hit me. No wonder it's been difficult for me to accept hugs from people I'm close to, although I'm getting better at that. It's strange how you can crave touch and at the same time, not want to be touched. I still have trouble accepting that from people I'm not really close to (I love it from my husband, my son and his wife, the grandkids, but I still have trouble with friends touching me). It's amazing to me how things that happen to you as a child can follow you for so many years (I'm 53 now).

spinsterwitch said...

mariellen - thanks for the comment. I think that what's hard is that our bodies remember trauma. Your's learned that touch was violence, so of course it is hard to have people outside of immediate loved ones touching.

Aravis said...

It's sad that you couldn't find that with your family, and I'm so happy that you've found this joy with S and SS. It makes me smile to think of you; I'm reminded of a purring cat. :0)