Touched.

Does anyone ever think about hugs? Have you? Or is it just something that you do?

Hugs kind of freak me out. I mean, you are pressing your body against someone else’s body. Sure, maybe it’s someone you love, so that doesn’t matter to you. But I swear to God, I am a beacon among huggers. I think I emit some sort of pheromone that attracts people who like to touch. And then they touch me.

I don’t want to be touched. Until roughly five years ago, I didn’t even like to say the word touched. I had a reaction to it similar to the reaction people have over the word “moist”. There’s this instant sense of defilement. Not to mention, people’s idea of being gentle is often five times rougher than mine.

I’m not even going to start on trying to explain why I don’t like being touched to people. Because sometimes it’s painful. Other times I just know that I’ll be able to feel that touch for hours, months, or years. In high school, this girl bit my hair. My hair. It still haunts me. I also firmly believe that everyone has a touch threshold. Mine is very small. It takes very little to suddenly make me fed up and 100% done with physical interaction. I can go from 0 to ornery with a single misplaced hand on the arm.

Essentially, it’s like porn. I can’t necessarily define it, but I know when it happens. This is unhelpful to anyone around me ever. I want to say, “Just don’t touch me,” but then you get the people who are trying to help. They yell at others in my defense, telling another that I don’t like to be touched, inevitably and accidentally treating that other person like a sex criminal. They seem to forget that this isn’t a new development for me. It’s not like I don’t know my limits or how to interact with others. I know how to set my own boundaries. This is my body, and I’m good at deciding who can and can’t touch it. Some apologize for touching me like they’ve done something terrible like kick a puppy. Again, very rarely do I hug people I don’t want to. Also, I do accept that living among other humans does require the accidental graze and randomly bumping into others. Mostly it feels like I’m being shamed for being weird. I feel like it’s necessary to apologize for not being like everyone else and for having something seriously wrong with me.

First world problems, right?

Anyhow, the greatest reaction to my oddity has come from my boss. One day at work, I was up at the front desk pretending to do work. Really, I was just talking to my friend Chelsea, probably about Tom Hiddleston. My boss also came down to talk to us. She stood about a foot away from me because there isn’t much room behind the desk. Now, I need to mention this about my boss. She’s a licensed massage therapist and esthetician. Her entire life is touch. One of her quirks is that while talking she’ll do this quick, one hand shoulder rub. It’s almost like that moment when the person you’re talking to touches your shoulder for emphasis or to convey extra emotion, except my boss’s touch is somehow extra touchy.

So, we were all talking about something to do with the spa, and I noticed that she kept touching my shoulder at regular intervals. I’m not going to tell my boss to sod off, so I sat there and took it. I understood that this is how she relates to people, and because I want people to respect how I live, I tried to respect her. Until I noticed that she was grinning every time she touched me.

“She doesn’t notice,” my boss finally said to my coworker/friend Chelsea, and they both laughed, prompting me to go, “What?” aggressively.

“You flinch every time you’re touched,” my boss told me, and then touched me again. Only then did I realize that—of its own accord—my shoulder dropped ever so slightly to escape being touched without me moving the rest of my body.

Essentially, instead of getting weird or aggressive, my boss turned my weirdness into a slightly twisted but absolutely hilarious game that even I have to laugh at. Because of it, we have a pretty good relationship when it comes to touch. She does focus a lot on it, I’ve noticed. She definitely recognizes that it is a strong part of my personality and that it doesn’t quite mesh with her personality. But she doesn’t make it weird. Instead, she works to find a compromise because we both know that we aren’t going to completely change who we are as human beings.

We’ve decided upon high-fiving. It involves human contact, but in a very quick manner. Plus, I love slappin’ five, but I also love the fact that the person who seems like they’d be able to handle my eccentricity because of her own is the person who handles it the best.

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