Day 24 Healing Work (Heirarchy of Needs)
I don't have an exercise to work on today, although I have found many challenging/interesting exercises in the forums here. There are several I know I will do and even a couple I have done already. I have been surprised how helpful I find it to respond to a structured assignment. I shouldn't be surprised. It is in my nature to value structure. In my work one of the most important things I do is create structure.
The forum I responded to today was for this assignment: write a six word memoir regarding your healing from sexual violence.
Here's my response:
I have six words, which are actually part of a series of sentences. So, not quite what this exercise calls for, but I found it helpful to write anyway.
- No touch
- No touch
- No touch
- As a child I received no touch from a loving parent.
- When the doctor hurt me I said, "no touch!"
- Today, as a consequence of twenty years of neglect and abuse, I can tolerate no touch.
It's not quite true that I cannot tolerate touch, but it's almost true. I am finding that my lack of touch bothers me a great deal. I feel like I have missed out on something very important, something that would be healing and healthy, something I would enjoy, something I deserve.
Is that true? I am haunted and conflicted about touch.
It feels like I have such a craving for touch that it is an addiction waiting for me to slip. Just as some people should never even once try alcohol because they are predisposed to alcoholism, I worry I should never once experience a safe touch or I'll fall into a chasm from which I might never return. The need is almost desperate inside me.
At night I have recently taken to sleeping with a pillow hugged to my chest. And, I feel guilty about it, ashamed. The pillow stands in for a person I wish would hold me and comfort me. It's not as though I have no one in my life. My spouse would be happy to hold me. But, it's just not comforting to me to be held by him. It's nothing he does wrong. I just don't experience it as being comforted. Perhaps because there is always the sexual contract of marriage. Being touched by him never feels like it's truly for me.
And, to add complexity, in my mind the person the pillow represents is a woman.
I think that's because my need for nurturing harkens back to infancy, to a mother who couldn't and didn't hold me, a mother who allowed her husband to abuse me, a mother who appeared to be good, and who I still love anyway. I don't know why, but I feel stuck on the idea that I must first and foremost be able to trust the touch of a woman. It's like a hierarchy of needs. First you have to be able to breathe, then you can eat, you can drink, you can take shelter. If you can't breathe, you can't do anything else to keep yourself alive and safe.
I think my deepest wound is the neglect of my mother. That's the wound that festers, producing the poisons of shame, guilt, and fear. My deep-seeded need for affection is my greatest source of self-derision.
I wonder what, if anything, I can do to fix it. So far I have not been able to cut it out of myself. I haven't been able to drown it or silence it. All of my avoidance techniques have failed. What other/better choices are there? Is there a cure?