Pandemic Things: Being Touch Starved
One of the more unexpected negatives since the pandemic
I might be contradicting the rest of this blog by saying this, but I never considered myself a touchy person. Now that I think about it, I was never big on affection. It was always a treat if I hugged any of my family members out of my own volition. Otherwise, they would have to chase me down and constrain me for any type of physical contact. I was a real “wipe it off” kind of person. Maybe it was the germaphobe in me — I really don’t know.
I realized during the pandemic that I am quite a touchy person and I use that to show my affection. And when I could not touch you, I felt disconnected.
Who would’ve thought?
I got my touchy side from the person who’d bother me the most with her affection: my mother
Now before you slander me on talking about my mother hear me out.
I love my mom let’s just say that first.
You see my mother and I have not had the closest of relationships. We’re quite different people and there’s a lot we’ve done to work on bridging our personalities together as we continue to grow and change. One of the things that would bother me to my core is when she would touch me. If we’re in the car or talking side by side, she’ll put her hand on your leg to emphasize what she’s saying. Or if you’re across the table she’ll reach out and grab your hand. I’ve made her upset veering myself away as if a fly has landed on me. It was never meant to upset her, but I never understood why. I’m listening. I hear you.
My friends called me out on it in high school.
Whenever I would get really excited or remember something (because I do be forgetting things) I would touch them on their arm or leg. Not touch, but hit. My excitement in the physical form would be to literally slap them. I had no intention to hurt them. It was like I would muscle spasm. Finally, my friend Sophie pointed out my…aggression? While I would rarely hug my friends, hold their hands, etc, I would shake them with excitement or grab them in joy.
It didn’t register to me that I was actually doing that. It also didn’t occur to me for the longest time that it could be related to what my mother does to me.
Fast forward to 2020
While I was blessed to be with my mother and father during quarantine, even we kept our distance. If I ever saw my friends, it was 6ft apart. I was itching to reach out to them, to hold their hand when a moment was shared, to lean on them or jolt them when I was excited.
It started to pain me.
I seriously considered hugging a tree.
When my friend and I were finally vaccinated and we hugged for the first time, I started to tear up.
Many of us probably had this moment with our loved ones.
It took me a pandemic to realize how much I value physical touch, a love language that for the longest time was not a priority. And it's not that I need it all the time, but I do value it more than I thought I did.
I went on a date for the first time since 2019. There were many highlights but there was one in particular that stood out.
It was 2 am. We were on the train riding home together. I was nicely cushioned between the weight of his body and the wall of the train car. We sat side by side with our hands loosely wrapped around each other. My other hand was around his arm and stroking it ever so slightly. My body leaned into his and I put my head on his shoulder. We sat like that. In silence. I asked him what he was thinking about because he kept looking at me. He said sleep. He asked me. I said, “this moment, right here.”
In my many touch starved dreams, this was one that I wanted. Not wanted — needed. So to have it was as gratifying as I dreamed.