Saturday, September 23, 2017

50 for 50, day 17: Touch

This is the 17th of 50 posts celebrating my 50th birthday. You can see the rest here.

I wrote recently about my aching back. It still hurts. I'm doing all the right things and it is gradually getting better, but these things take time and it's making me cranky. Some loving friends were tired of both seeing me in pain and listening to whine, so we went and got massages, which reminded me of just how much I love and need touch.

Touch is such a vital part of what it is to be human. I'm not talking about sexual touch (though that is part of it) but touch in general. A hug. A friendly hand on your shoulder. Any reminder that it is okay to let another human being within reach.

After Kevin died I found myself experiencing what is called in the widowed community "skin hunger," that need for skin to skin contact. I didn't want to look for casual sex, so I instead booked myself regular massages. I was lucky to find some really good massage therapists, skilled in both the physical art of massage and able to hold the space for the emotional work that can happen when you are being touched.

I would often cry through those early massages. The therapists would hold their hands on my back or stroke my hair. Later they would work through the knots on my back from the stress of holding myself together. Eventually I was whole enough that the massage was about caring for my body as much as my spirit, but throughout it all what helped the most was being touched.

I love being touched. As I get older I cherish touch more and more. I remember the last time I touched my father before he died and the feel of Kevin's palm on my cheek. I love the feel of my new love's skin. I delight in holding hands with my friends. Sure, I don't really like being touched unexpectedly by strangers, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the kind of touch that builds bonds, that helps with the release of oxytocin, that reminds me that my animal nature understands the language of touch more than anything else.

Touch matters. I hope, as I age, that I continue to cherish touch, that I continue to delight in touching and being touched.

This is what 50 looks like. Willing to be vulnerable enough to touch.
(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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