I was at my spa last week and while my massage therapist was working me over, helping to ease my carpal tunnel syndrome and a squirky shoulder problem I have, we were discussing the fact that we each know a lot of individuals who’ve never enjoyed the benefits of massage simply because they have an aversion to touch. Different people have different reasons for this aversion and I respect them all. I actually used to be one of those people. My reasons will remain unspoken, but I consider myself lucky I managed to overcome my fears and allow myself the indulgence of healing touch.
There are as many kinds of touch as there are aversions to them. Touch can be good or bad, or something in between. In today’s world, I think part of the problem that perpetuates the aversion is the amount of definitions and descriptors which can become attached to touch that some probably feel it’s safer to avoid touch altogether. Touch has almost become stigmatized through the actions of a few people who’d abuse the privilege of touch. I also think we may have raised a generation of young people who aren’t able to discern between good and bad touch because every kind of touch has been presented to them as something to just say no to. We do need to be cautious, but we also need to be open to the world and all the possibilities for healing it has to offer. Touch can offer healing in so many ways, physically and emotionally. Touch is essential to our well-being.
During our discussion of this topic, we talked about how many couples we know who don’t even touch each other in any way. They go through their days without so much as a hug or holding hands, a kiss or two. Sad really. My husband and I are touchers. We hold hands in public and cuddle on park benches. We hug. We steal kisses in the rain. I think sometimes this makes other people uncomfortable while others are honestly flabbergasted that we act like two teenagers. We’ve been asked more than once, even though we’ve been married twenty-two years, if we’re newlyweds. We always smile and laugh, and steal a kiss, then tell them no, we’re two old farts with some miles under our belt. But isn’t that how love is supposed to be? Fresh and alive and vibrant? Aren’t we supposed to grow up and into love and old together still kissing and touching with joyful wonder?
While we continued our discussion and my aches and pains eased under my friend and confidant’s ministrations, I was reminded of something I wrote a few years back. It was a conversation between two old friends. One had been married for years and the other was widowed and rediscovering love, and the whole notion was frightening to her. Even more disturbing was the way she was falling for the new man in her life. It had never occurred to her that there was more than one way love could slip up behind you and leave you breathless.
“Love comes in a lot of forms, Jules. There’s the hit you like a brick kind, the takes a while to grow kind, and the comfortable, warm blanket kind. He might not have hit you like a brick, but I’d venture to say he’ll grow on you. And isn’t the thought of the warm blanket for the rest of your life nice? I like to think we’ve got some combination of all that. When I first saw him, I knew I’d never love anyone else that way. Then he started to grow on me and now we’re like an old pair of shoes to each other. Broken in and worn, but still so needed.”
I believe what I was thinking then was that there are as many ways to find love as there are kinds of touches and what they can heal. Granted, my husband and I were both hit senseless with the brick. Like, I knew within four hours of meeting him I was going to marry him, and not six months later I did. But we’ve since grown up and into our love and we now enjoy the warm, comfortable blanket feeling and we are definitely each other’s old shoes. We’re also still breathless at times.
And this is what I want for each and every one of my character’s who are in the midst of finding love. I want them to experience with all their senses the breathless, gripping feeling of love. I also want them to know the healing power of touch.
If you’ve never experienced healing touch through massage, I highly recommend it. If you’re someone who fears touch, you might consider Thai massage which is done with you fully clothed, which can help lessen the feeling of vulnerability often associated with healing touch. If any massage is simple a bridge to far, reach out and touch your partner. Give them a hug, steal a kiss, cuddle on a park bench.