OKay because English is a really strange language and because for me, touch is a really strange subject, we’re going to combine these two categories today! No I’m not actually all that thrilled about it. This is that moment when my overanalytical brain doesn’t want to feel stuff SO she fixates on a complex topic and runs through every possible tangent. It’s called distraction. It’s an anti-recovery thing I do. Don’t do it.
Cuddle is Old English and Middle English according to Webster Dictionary. Comes from words for being intimate and OMG so cute “making friends”.
Snuggle- been around since 1680 in the English language and who the heck knows where that came from? Draw close. Make snug. Seriously who thought of this
Nuzzle- comes from nosele old English means to press or rub particularly with head or face… okay.
Hug- from Old Norse huggah to soothe or console and can also possibly be related to Old English Hogian to care for. Awwww..
What is driving me crazy? Well besides my Samoans, Tava. See I just cannot compute in my head how you raise a full-grown man to be a cuddler. I have not met those before. My Samoan men are not touchy in public… OK except when they are going against the taboo and being super rebellious and they get away with it because this is Hawaii not Samoa so they can be flagrantly obnoxious with their boo. Not that I noticed. But with me, they aren’t touchy. Remember my other Tongan who I’ve been friends with for almost a year? Hugged him once. My other Tongan guyfriend. Hugged him twice. In a year. Samoan guyfriends 3 times once when I was crying once when they were walking me home late after I was assaulted and once at the airport. For some reason my guyfriends like to all hug at the same time so it’s kind of like being come at at all sides. It’s hard to know who is where and it’s very squeeezzeeyy. And I have a very hard time getting out because these are big people. Not complaining tho. This is a very nice problem to have.
My main point is that if I’m gone for a long time, the Tongans will greet me with a hug. Or severe emotional distress, I will get hugged or consoled with touch. That time I had a panic attack because teddy bear came up behind me and grabbed my waist? Put his arm around and stroked my cheek with his hand and held me close to him.
Sometimes I wonder if part of my eating disorder and cutting and crazy emotional outbursts are because I need to feel connection and I want touch, but I never learned healthy ways to get it.
Which is definitely why Tava is driving me crazy. Pretty sure this guy is in a relationship and it’s okay if he is because duh I’m not planning on a boyfriend right now. BUT thing is he touched me. I can’t just ignore that. Other people can just kinda filter it out and keep going but I can’t. My brain is trying to figure it out like what cues make him think this is okay, is this okay, how was I supposed to respond, why is he using touch- my brain drives me es loca sometimes. *all the time*. But still! Because here is the other thing. I can’t remember what being touched felt like. But I keep touching my body where I am the most bony for comfort. Talk about strange. This is not a healthy new quirk this is not good. People who suffer from anorexia need to be careful about seeing our body in the mirror and about pinching and anything that can contribute to the eating disorder. But I can’t help it.
Touching my bones soothes me.
But at the same time part of it is when someone touches me I come into my body. I become bodily aware. That is really not a common occurrence for someone with PTSD and anorexia. I become obsessed with how they feel when they touch me. How I feel when they touch me. And what they feel when they touch me. Am I soft am I hard it is very intimate for me. I feel like I can’t hide anything I’m feeling if they touch me, which is probably why I told him more than I tell the average Tongan. It’s because he touched me. It is a lot easier to hide from people when they aren’t touching me because I get so distracted by touch that walls go down that never go down otherwise.
Back to my point. I was very weight conscious when KT hugged me. Months later when my weight continued to drop I was afraid that if he did come back he would freak if he hugged me because I was thinner. When I left school and my weight crashed I was really upset because I knew if it didn’t go up then as soon as I got back everyone and their mother would ask me how you lose so much weight? (I love Polynesians. But not that they do a looottt of body comments) How do you expect to get married if you’re so skinny? Yeah. Avoid Samoa if you have an eating disorder #lifelessons.
I definitely get self-conscious about my chest when guys hug me. And I struggle to hug women because they’re soft and I don’t like it it’s an uncomfortable reminder of what I am. I like to wear compression bras to flatten out my chest and make it feel harder, especially when I’m around guys which is most of the time. I get obsessed with how they’ll think of me after I hug them if I’m “soft”. Because I want to be attractive, but I don’t. I see bones and lean muscle as being strong and disciplined so when I have clinging areas that are “soft” which I have to have to stay alive and which are normal for a woman I see those areas as problem spots or weak points in my anti-man armor.
This guy… is not thinking about any of those things. I’m just hyper sensitive.
What I can’t understand is what makes him tick!
Did he have a lot of safe warm loving touch as a kid that I never got? Was he born like this? Like I’m imagining this adorable baby Tongan with dark eyes, a big smile, and big poofy cheeks who is just so cute all the relatives want to hold him. He grows up into a toddler and keeps growing up and his siblings and him are always romping around or cudling with each other, maybe even sharing the same bed with his brothers. And he continues to just experience a natural unfolding of touch. He has good physical relationships with his family, his friends, his girlfriends. And I meet him today and it’s as natural as breathing.
So I imagine he was never ashamed of touch or violently abused. Which in my head I don’t see as possible. Teddy bear? His mom threw a bottle at him as a kid and it cut through his arm to the bone. Child abuse is a big problem in Samoa. Just because I love Samoans in general does not mean I’m gonna lie about that it’s true and it needs to stop. This guy is Tongan. Child abuse is a big problem in the islands in general. Generations of people just never talk about it or do anything to stop it. Spousal abuse is huge too. There’s plenty of problems to go around on such a small island.
But this guy… I full well know he isn’t thinking about this. That it’s not keeping him up at night or triggering his brain to go full-on analytical mode on him. He’s just keeping up the natural rhythm of his life not even bothered. You need to understand- part of the reason I have so many Polynesian guyfriends is because my guyfriends in the US grew up with safe loving touch and were not beaten or abused. They took for granted that they knew what healthy touch was. I can’t. Because that’s not my story.
If I were to get married (not that that will ever happen but for the sake of arguing this point) to a man who was super comfortable with touch and very loving and very emotionally intimate I would go crazy. It would take a looonngg time to adjust to that. It would make me very skittish. I was rewired completely differently. I get pleasure from pain and I show people I care about them by making them food or helping them with something or saying something. Because of my own body image issues and the PTSD I don’t express love through touch.
The thing about touch that is the hardest is that in order to give you have to be able to receive and that part of me is emotionally unavailable right now.
So the other reason Tava is driving me crazy is because he is one of those warm fuzzy loving people and he doesn’t fit into my world view. He’s like an outer space alien or a weird bug I stare at on the sidewalk. He just doesn’t fit! It’s like having this puzzle and wanting to put the piece in but it’s just so confusing and it doesn’t even look like it belongs to the picture. Which is probably a super healthy thing.
I think what I need to accept here is that this is not going to make sense at first. That I need to not overanalyze this. And that it’s okay that this doesn’t feel okay yet. I was raised completely differently than this guy. He doesn’t know what rape feels like or what sadist sexual abuse is like. And that’s okay too. We can still be friends.
But I think I need to try to open my heart a little and let a little warmth in through the cracks. Because I’m pressed up against that glass and I can feel myself wanting to break through and connect, but it’s not the time, this needs to be slow. He can just be a part of that journey.
For now even though it’s terrifying I’m not going to avoid him. I might even touch his shoulder just as a friend, try something small. What was it Eleanor Roosevelt? “Do something every day that terrifies you”… This terrifies me. Because of those people I am making a list of to try to feel my feelings around because of the touch factor and because I wasn’t scared or hurt by his touch that means he is up there on the list for better or for worse my heart wants him to be a connection. My heart knows what it needs… It kills me to give it to her, though.
I’m terrified because he is someone I feel the desire to connect with. My eating disorder and selfharm urges are pulling back hard because they think that if I connect again I will get broken again and never get better. But being broken is what makes you alive.
That’s why I’m so scared. That’s why I cried over my granola. That’s my self-harm urges. My heart is reaching out to connect and in order to block off the pain if I’m rejected my mental illness is pushing back. My mental illness is the glass.
So what would happen if… I connected with someone?
It makes me feel vulnerable. I attach too hard, too fast, and they freak and leave. That’s a possibility.
It makes me feel vulnerable. I start to care a lot about the other person. I overwhelm them at first but we work out ways to coexist with my glass barriers and it goes okay. We either stay in the relationship or leave but we leave without me going down the rabbit hole of suicidal ideations and severe depression. We leave with both of us sad, but healthy.
I’m vulnerable with them. I care about them a lot. As I work through my other stuff we develop a good relationship. We stay or leave healthy.
I can’t be vulnerable with them even though I try really hard. I get ashamed of myself for being so withdrawn. They feel how withdrawn I am and leave me. Or I leave them because I’m so scared they will leave me first.
So looking at all that I think my steps need to be 1) Not overwhelming the other person. Keeping details between me and my therapist. Leaving time for trust to develop so I don’t overshare. 2) Allowing touch that respects my boundaries (as soon as I figure out what those are) 3) Giving it time.
The only thing I have left to lose is my life, you know?
So why not chance it?