Human touch. Research has shown it is that is needed throughout our lives because of the many benefits such as it’s ability to lower blood pressure and reduce the production of stress hormones. There are also some emotional benefits from non-sexual touch. A reassuring or comforting touch can help with anxiety.

Human touch plays it’s biggest role in our lives as newborns but this isn’t about newborns it is about one adult and how touch has been something hard to accept at first then just gone without.

Growing up I was fat. I have always been so. Growing up touch was a bad thing. Touch meant someone was trying to harm me in some way. It was known that I had an anger issue but I tried my best to keep control. When the words didn’t work they moved on to throwing small toys or small rocks. Someone would poke me with sticks, and in the later part of elementary school there were those that would try and poke me with thumb tacks and safety pins so they could in their words “See if I would pop like a balloon.”.

In middle school the safety pins were at least gone but the kicking and punching picked up. I was in a the martial arts but schools had a zero tolerance and I didn’t like getting in trouble so I just took the abuse and went about my day, doing my best to maintain control of my anger. Well All emotions really. I was in summer school I would be going in to my freshmen year in the fall when I finally lost control. Up till that point physical touch meant pain for me. I had been in fights before but there were always those around me to help keep me back before going to far. This time though they did not hold me back because they did not like what they saw. After I was punched in the face and saw blood I lost all control. I was kicked out of summer school and I remember the principle saying I could have killed the kid. After that day I went even more out of my way to avoid physical contact with people. It no longer meant pain for me but it meant I could hurt someone else badly.

I almost made it out of high school without incident. There were no punches and no kicks. I thought things might be getting a bit better till someone who loved to make me suffer from years before was in some of my classes. He had a new game he liked to play. When we would pass he would reach out and grab my chest and say hey boobs. Now being that I was over 300 pounds there was lots to grab. Sadly there was nothing I could do to have this end without bad things happening and going to the school was useless as he was the start athlete so I was shit out of luck. I once again reached my breaking point. This time I was at least able to mostly control my emotions. His routine ended that day as I got him in an arm bar and told him if he ever touched me again I would snap his arm then while he is in pain and his arm is hanging there bend in the wrong direction I would do the same to the other.

The rest of the school year went well after that at least as far as people touching me went. My last year of high school I went someplace new. A school filled with the rejects. I kept to myself. I kept my emotions in check trying to never show any outside of very few places. And I avoided touch.

High school and college are the times in our lives where major events take place for a lot of people. You learn to drive, maybe get a first job. You kiss for the first time, maybe fool around a bit and also lose your virginity.

Well I never did any of those in high school and I never went to college. I started working full time the day after I got out of school. 50 - 70 hour weeks and I never really did much outside of work and going right home after. My friends the few I had did start to bug me more to go out with them to movies and to a Denny’s after and I made the time for such things, it was just once a week. They all went to college and they started having parties though nothing big till I turned 21 since I was the first to do so then I became their supplier.

It was during this time that people started hugging me more as a greeting. While not fond of it at first I accepted it. I started to have a change in the way I thought of human touch. I even started to want it. But I still had done none of the things most people had done before they even left high school. I had a couple of online things only one of them was serious but the distance was great. It was during this time that I learned to love human touch but having it was so extremely rare. I could lay in that bed with her all day if I had the chance. But things go the way things go. I was 27 when I had my first kiss and it wasn’t even what most would call a real kiss. My shyness and awkwardness kind of made sure of that.

So my ramblings bring me to today. It has now been over a year since I have even had a handshake. I am not even sure why I have tried to stay away from contact. I can’t use the excuse that I don’t go out for it because if simple contact of any kind is what I need I could simple go up to my mom and ask for a hug. It should be an easy thing to do. But I seem unable to. I just can’t.

Hmm when I started typing this, I never expected it to be this long. Writing this already has me thinking about more things I feel I should write.

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Comment by Luara on April 5, 2013 at 11:33am

female supervisors would give me hell for performance that was much better than my peers (documented in their own detailed reports), or make demands of schedule or workload that they did not expect for others, then want a hug.  I felt bullied.

Sometimes when people know they're being annoying and they don't want to be confronted about it, they'll try to force their target into a public demonstration that it's OK - like trying to force a hug. 

Once a woman at a social occasion, who'd been making obnoxious comments directed at me, later suddenly hugged me - a sort of ambush hug.  That bothered me.  The purpose seemed to be, to control the group's perceptions of her.  It didn't bother me anywhere near as much as sexual harassment, though. 

Comment by Sentient Biped on April 5, 2013 at 11:09am

Nick,

Thanks for telling your story.

I grew up among stoic germanic midwesterners who themselves grew up during the great depression.  They were not physically or verbally demonstrative.  They did not touch or hug.  My partner was born and raised in the Northeast part of China, which interestingly is the same.  (an aside, even the food is similar - starchy noodles, potatoes, fermented cabbage / sauerkraut, sausages, dumplings).

Even though, like Luara, I do not like having people "in my face" - especially if they are aggressive, or not respective, or have an agenda - and a reversal of what Luara states, since often in my workplace that's women - I do feel the need otherwise for physical touch.  There were cases when female supervisors would give me hell for performance that was much better than my peers (documented in their own detailed reports), or make demands of schedule or workload that they did not expect for others, then want a hug.  I felt bullied.

But once someone has proven they are "friend not foe", that lowers the barriers and makes it good.  Male or female.

In my work I'm often around folks in their 80s, even 90s.  When they (for that generation, women) want a hug, it makes my day.  Nothing better.  For men of that generation, a handshake or pat on the shoulder has the same effect.

For dogs, a pat and hug for them and their head on my knee is heaven.  Animals can be much better than people.

If someone is my generation or younger, I'm often very leery of the hugs although handshake and pat on the shoulder is still almost always good.

I hope your barriers can dissolve and you get some more touch and physical affection.  It makes a difference.

Comment by Luara on April 4, 2013 at 6:55am

That sounds similar to what a lot of women have - sensitivity about space-invasion.  If someone touches me, I can feel invaded, it's like a small-scale rape.  Unless it's in a social context where there's affection going on between us or they ask (verbally or nonverbally) if it's OK beforehand. 

It goes back to my father, who was very mentally dominating.  Not having privacy in my room, he would burst into my room if he felt like it.  He tried to control completely who I was and who I was going to be. 

I have absolutely "seen red" sometimes after sexual harassment, after men invade my space sexually.  Fantasies of slicing up any man who does that with a knife.  I live in a small town now and I rarely get harassed.  But in the Los Angeles area it was common. 

Women who were literally sexually abused, raped as children, would very likely have intense feelings about being touched. 

Comment by Nick Walker on April 4, 2013 at 2:28am

Hug them all you can.  Get them used to it.  When it is something you avoided for so long though it is really hard to change.

Comment by RonRon on April 4, 2013 at 12:29am

Thanks for your story. I enjoyed hearing about your life and your perspective. Now I want to hug my mom and my child more often because of what you said. My family are not huggers- I will try to keep hugging them until they warm up to it. You gave me good insight. Cheers

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on April 3, 2013 at 10:18am

I hear you. On the other hand there are those who richly deserve a good beating.

Comment by Nick Walker on April 3, 2013 at 9:47am
Though I do enjoy fighting as a sport, I try to avoid the use of violence for fear of losing it and going to far.
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on April 3, 2013 at 8:58am

Hey Nick, good scribbles. Too bad you did not break the athlete's arm and then giggle as he suffered!

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