Number 24 in a Series
Does the idea that although babies and children need to be touched, as we mature we outgrow this need, apply to you?
Our need to touch and be touched begins at birth, if not before. Touching is not limited to physical sensations. Emotional touch is as essential to our feelings of well-being as physical touch.
Touching becomes contaminated with experiences and fears that leave us scarred and scared. Many people suffer in childhood the emotional pain from either physical touch that was invasive and abusive or from a lack of touch.
As I came into adulthood physical touch became more and more rare. My belief that “real men” are not sensitive and my fears around homophobia made it impossible to show any physical affection to men. And, only when I became aware that being physically affectionate was often just a first move toward getting her into sex, could I understand my female partner’s resistance to being touched.
The ban on touching extends into many areas of our lives. For example, because some in the healing profession abused their clients with touch, all healers must now refrain from touching their clients. In the early part of my career, where I might have moved to comfort a client, I was forced into sitting on my hands. And so, my clients were denied the healing power of touch.
With few opportunities to be “in touch,” I became starved for the genuine affection communicated through the pure touch that comes from the heart. Heart-connected touch opens me to my deep feelings. It is a physical and/or emotional caress that enlivens me and transcends my separateness.
A workshop experience opened new awarenesses about touch. In it, we spent time with different perople touching and being touched. In one exercise we would put our heads into another person’s lap and they carressed our faces. In another, we would lie down flat while another person carressed our arms and backs.
The experience was so sweet. There was no sexuality and no demands, just a primitive need being fulfilled. I felt totally safe and touching and being touched felt wonderful.
When we finished the exercises we sat in a circle and shared our feelings. I didn’t know why, but I felt a wave of sadness come over me and I started to cry. I related my sadness about how much baggage I carried around about touching and being touched.
Heart-connected emotional touch is what we need whenever we experience difficulties. It is the “compassionate listening” that comforts us while we experience present and/or past pain. It is what we needed as children and still need as adults to help us through our current difficulties and heal old wounds.
Heart-connected touch allows me to feel a connection to something beyond my own existence and in doing so, transcend my separateness and become enlivened. Whether feeling the pain of loss, experiencing fear or joy, making love or greeting a friend, heart-connected touch expresses the caring that conveys the healing of love. I will never lose my desire for it.
For Your Journey
- If you feel the pain of being encased in a separating shell because of your need to touch and be touched being met, what is getting in the way of fulfilling that need?
- Think of any ways that you might have inflicted pain on others by with heart-disconnected touch?
- Share-it-forward. Share your thoughts and feelings related to your experiences with touch or being touched.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
Next Week: # 25 – Parenting Beyond Authoritarian or Permissive
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr/Les Chatfield