There are some things I find I must simply accept without understanding. People who are really touchy about being touched fall into this category. My own preferences and experiences require that I simply accept that some people I come into contact with simply don’t want to be touched. Therefore, “contact” means being in the same room, across a table perhaps, talking or maybe singing or learning something new without physical contact. Failing to accept this reality can be a source of distress.
My own experience of touch makes me inclined to “reach out and touch someone” simply because I have reaped such positive benefits.
How? I remember being in a weights/workout class at the gym. The instructor is giving instruction on proper form. “Shoulders back and down” she says. “When you do this exercise, squeeze your shoulder blades together.” I tried. I tried to do as she said. But, I only figured it out when, in mid-pull, she very lightly touched my back, right between my shoulder blades, and said something like “Here. This is where you squeeze.” The words were useful at this point, but not necessary. My muscles, my body and my brain suddenly understood how to be in the proper form. Touch.
In yoga class there are times when simple, light hands on instruction can make all the difference in the world in alignment or understanding how a pose might feel better. Touch.
How? I generally give lots of hugs. It’s sort of my charism, as it were. There are so many situations where words fail or are just wrong, but a hug seems to be exactly the answer. Many years ago I ran into a former coworker who had retired and was spending her days (and nights) caring for an aging parent. Words could never give her the peace and rest she needed. Even with others to help with the care, she was being worn down. I found myself cautiously reaching out to give her a hug. It was right. She needed to receive the care as a break from giving the care. Touch.
There are times when I have needed to relax and let someone hug me, or let me rest in contact with them. That last part, where I let myself rest in someone else’s arms (hug) is the closest I come to understanding “don’t touch me!” There was a time when I was struggling mightily with a situation and a friend asked “Do you want me to take over and do this?” My “Yes” led to leaning against her, with my head in her lap. All the while fighting with myself because I wanted to get up and run. It was just too intimate, just to much letting go of my walls to not only let her step in and shoulder my burden, but to let myself be touched and healed and loved. At the same time it was wonderful to be able to rest and know that someone cared enough to step in and take on the burden. There was so much healing of my soul in that touch.
Maybe I do understand a little about “don’t touch me.” Probably not.