I have never been a person who loves touch. If you ask my mother, she will tell you I was the most different of her three children. I determined early in life that I would be independent and not need people too much. As young as four months, I wanted to be left alone seated, preferably on the floor. I would scream when you carried me and laughed at you when you put me down either in frustration or at my mother’s instructions. As I got older, I resented touch but because we live in a community that likes to shake hands I swallowed down my angst every time someone approached.
My close friends knew my drama with touch and so we high-fived or waved at each other. One day someone asked me why I don’t hug my sister and I said we just aren’t like that. Their facial expression was so hilarious. They just understood that was me and let me be.
For many people, touch is a love language, and I have learnt to absorb that and adjust.
I cannot really tell the root of my aversion to touch as a child. I can however trace it later in life to inappropriate advances made. We currently have a rule of all passengers seated in our public vehicles, aka matatus, but it wasn’t true many years ago. In fact, we would be packed into the ‘matatu’ like sardines. One guy sat on the back seat and once the vehicle was full, he worked his way to the front organising us to stand for the maximum capacity. You would find the vehicle has double its capacity or even more. In those tight spaces, I would be claustrophobic and witnessed many girls get touche inappropriately.
I wasn’t in that class because I learned early on to use my mouth as a deterrent. Yes, I have always been vocal. Several times a person tried to make move on me, but I always made a point of loudly asking him what he was thinking and why he thought it was appropriate to that. thankfully no one tried to take it out on me but I earned the reputation of being ‘mdomo’ meaning a big mouth. I honestly didn’t care because my big mouth saved me from many things. However, these instances and many others of people using touch as a weapon for control taught me to dislike touch.
Fast forward to today. My son, however, has taught me to come out of the no-touch space. He loves touch, so I had to learn how to communicate that way. What a journey that has been. Every day I remind myself that touch is an important part of life for others and have been studying it. I am still learning but I have found that touch, especially hugs and held hands, are indeed tools for healing.
Touch represents connection and compassion.
Hugs from the right people with the right intentions represent healing, they are a source of hope. They are the depth of restoration and give peace. Recently, they have brought me healing and helped me move from one who didn’t like physical contact to one who can appreciate it. They have translated the meaning of connection into a language I now understand.
I am closer to being whole. I can only heal and remain sane when I choose to do the work.
What do you need to identify and acknowledge that is standing in the way of your growth? Do it soon and commit fully to the process of growth.