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Day 24 Healing Work (Heirarchy of Needs)

Posted by intrepidshe , in Healing Work, Touch 03 January 2014 · 230 views

Jan. 3, 2014 (Count down: 27 days to gynecologic consultation)
 
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
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  • 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?



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FinallyHere
Jan 04 2014 11:57 AM

I relate to the statement that when my husband holds me it feels tied to the sexual contract of marriage. We have had to talk about my needs to be touched without the pressure for sex multiple times and it seems to getting better.

 

Have you ever thought about meditating on the idea of you reaching back to specific memories of you as a little girl and giving her a hug? I have no idea if this will work for you but it seemed to help me in particular memories of neglect.

 

You write with such clarity I was moved to respond. Your six word memoir really hit me hard. Thank you, thank you for sharing these thoughts/feelings.

 

Warm wishes

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intrepidshe
Jan 04 2014 08:45 PM

FinallyHere,

 

I am deeply moved by your response.

 

I will try your suggestion. I have incredibly broken fragmented memory and don't really know that little girl. But it's worth a try.

 

Thanks for your comment. I can't describe how affirming it feels. I am surprised by my own reaction. There's really something to being heard and understood. I didn't know that.

Intrepid.

 

"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."
 

This feels so sad to me.

 

It's true, no touch or no act is ever truly only for the person receiving, the giver gets something too - the pleasure of giving and the joy of being needed.

 

(Us men are not quite so mono-dimensional as we are painted by popular culture.

 

Eg I saw a magazine headline "How to give what he wants and get what you need"

This struck me as both manipulative and condescending. Why should women be elevated to this 'higher being' status where they have needs, while the men are trivialised as simple and selfish by only having wants ?)

 

What I am saying is, the gender stereotypes aren't helping anyone.

 

Men are not allowed to admit our need for non-sexual touch, maybe not even to ourselves

When my wife asks for a hug, I give one and I get one at the same time. It's win-win. And I can ask too.

 

I feel for you guys, my wife is nothing like my abuser (who was male) so intimacy with her is not often triggering for me.

We hubbies want to help. As a friend says, happy wife, happy life.

If that's got an element of self-interest to it, so be it. :-)

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intrepidshe
Apr 08 2014 09:41 PM

Mac,

 

This is very helpful and compassionate. I appreciate you saying these things. My husband would happily provide affection. But, it doesn't reach me for some reason.

 

I have a lot of work to do yet.

 

Thanks for your response. It really helps to hear the male perspective.

About Intrepid She

This is a moderated PUBLIC blog. This blog is a therapeutic tool I am using to help me get over my fear of doctors (which is made difficult by a history of abuse by them) to learn to grieve, and ultimately to integrate my dis-integrated heart.

 

View postings specific to health care.

View postings specific to touch.

View postings specific to crying.

 

The content of this blog is not appropriate for children or for anyone who might be triggered by reading about sexual abuse.

 

To the many others walking your own version of this path, I wish you well on your journey. -Intrepid

 

More Healing:

 

- Framed and Unashamed

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- What's Inside my Head?

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