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Day 82: Nonsexual Nurturing Touch

Posted by intrepidshe , in Healing Work, Touch 02 March 2014 · 178 views

Mar. 2, 2014 (11 Days Into Becoming):
 
The biggest struggle for me is the ache I feel because of the absence of nurturing in my childhood. This pain begins with my mom, who could not hold me and who was overwhelmed by my intensity.  I have recently started to tell myself that nurturing is a need, not a want. I don't just deserve nurturing, I need it. But, what is it, it exactly? In order to heal this wound caused by lack of nurturing I need to better define what nurturing means to me:
  • Nurturing is a type of touch combined with deep emotional connecting.
  • Nurturing is non-sexual touch.
  • Nurturing touch is gentle.
  • Permission is asked before touch occurs.
  • There is a deepness of relationship and mutual awareness of need.
  • There is trust between the people involved.
I found a list for levels of touch provided by Oregon Touch (http://www.meetup.co...n-sexual_Touch?):
 
Level 1: Public Touch – formal touch as in handshakes
Level 2: Professional Touch - such as from doctors and dentists
Level 3: Social Touch – touch exchanged with acquaintances at social events such as a tap on the shoulder, small talk
Level 4: Friendly Touch - hugging, playful touch, comforting among friends
Level 5: Family Touch – among members of one’s family, such as kisses on the cheek, hugs, arms around the shoulder
Level 6: Special Touch – Touch between friends that communicates more affection, such as [holding], eye gazing, and long hugs
Level 7: Personal Touch – getting in touch with oneself as in meditation, bathing, and time spent in nature
Level 8: Sexual Touch – Arousing, consensual erotic touch between consenting adults or with oneself. Sexual touch needs a higher level of consent than non-sexual touch.
 
When I think about nurturing, it is Level 5 and 6 that I mean (in addition to the characteristics I listed above). In my present family level 5 is abundant. But, Level 6 remains totally absent from my life. Level 8 (from any other person) is also absent, by my choice. I'm not at all comfortable with anyone approaching level 8 with me. I think I need to resolve Level 6, along with my sexual orientation question, before I can begin to consider Level 8 again.
 
I have considered making an appointment with a massage therapist in order to gain access to safe touch, but I realize, while this is a form of healing touch (and could reduce pain as well as stress), it would lack the emotional connecting at the center of nurturing. It probably won't meet my need.
 
The idea of being held means the most to me. When I say I need nurturing, I am saying I need to be held. This need pains and confounds me because it was denied from the start. I just don't understand how this happens for people. It seems impossible to me.
 
I don't know what to do about this. The first step is admitting it. I have achieved step one. I think the second step is understanding it. I'm on this step right now. Perhaps I am experiencing progress today.
 
I don't know what comes next. Somewhere down the way there will be meeting someone who might be a nurturing friend. Then, when I think about it, I just shake my head at the idea of ever broaching this topic.
 
I once had a friend who was close enough emotionally to possibly be a nurturing friend. And, I did admit to her I had this need for nurturing. She was not comfortable with that kind of touch between us. So, we didn't go there. She admitted later she was in love with me. So, it could not have been the touch of a friend for her. I was very thankful to her that she kept that boundary because it would have been incredibly damaging to me if I was expecting nonsexual touch and she went in the direction of sexual touch. It would have been devastating to me as it would have felt like all of my abuse. For a while I thought I might actually be in love with her as well. But, eventually I realized what I felt was not love. I just wanted nurturing. She also turned out not to really be a friend at all and betrayed me several times. I have cut off all contact with her some years ago, but I have forgiven her.
 
This experience with her, however, has created incredible hesitance in me to trust another person. I can't help but believe when there is emotional connecting, people make touch sexual.
 
Emotional connecting = sex. 
 
All of my male friends have done this. In many cases I went there with them. But, even females go there. I never went there with a female.
 
This brings me back to the need downgrade process I have been learning about recently:
 
Need -> want -> not deserved -> not wanted -> does not exist
  • There is something about me that makes people respond to me sexually, no matter what I do.
  • There is something about me that makes people not want to touch me in a nurturing way.
  • People in general do not want to share nonsexual nurturing touch, except in a sexual relationship.
  • These things must mean I don't deserve nurturing touch.
  • Nonsexual, nurturing touch doesn't exist in the world for me.
  • I don't want nonsexual, nurturing touch because it is too difficult to find.
  • I don't need nonsexual, nurturing touch.
 



This was hard for me to read, certain places. I had not been deprived of nurturing touch as a young child. But I think it was lost with the CSA. Not sure. Don't remember much.

 

Touch has not been a part of my world for over twenty five years. I hope to change that. The current problems I have now I believe are in part because of that lack.

 

Thank you for posting this. I will need to read it again when I get home tonight. 

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yarnfoolishness
Mar 03 2014 01:12 PM

I hear you.  I get it.  We all need that level, and it's not a common occurrence in my experience. 

 

I think the thing that stands out for me is what this particular level of touch communicates to us.  When I think of that level of touch, I feel it communicates many things that we need:  safety with another person, acceptance of us as we are, compassion for us, love for us as a person.  Since these things are communicated with touch, the communication becomes visceral, and the understanding of the experience is held deeply.

 

In my life, I've almost never experienced this.  I've had one instance of it in my entire life.  It lasted all of 5 minutes maybe, and it touched me deeply.  I'll never forget it.  The person who gave this experience to me is no longer living, and I honestly don't know if it will ever happen again.  I wasn't held, as in a hug.  Instead both my hands were held gently.  This was many years ago.

 

Now, well - I receive communication like this in many ways.  In my interactions with a couple of special people at church, I receive acceptance, compassion, love, and safety.  It's not received with the intensity of the one experience I had, but it is real nonetheless.  In the area of safe touch, I do go to a massage therapist now and then, and I cuddle my kids.  I very seldom receive safe, nonsexual touch in addition to acceptance, compassion, and love.  They tend to come separately to me.

:metoyou:

 

May I also respond to your last list?  I heard such distress in it, and I wanted to respond in hopes of providing a little help.  Please toss anything not helpful, ok?  :metoyou:

 

  • There is something about me that makes people respond to me sexually, no matter what I do.

I have experienced this kind of thing.  It is frustrating and makes the world seem like an unsafe place.  I would disagree that it's something about you.  I would say that its something about our culture.  Everything in the media is so very sexualized, and people mimic the media.  It is also possible that, due to the trauma you've experienced, your 'people picker' may need calibrating.  This does not mean that there is some sort of sexual neon sign on your forehead.  It only means that maybe your comfort zone (mistakenly) includes people with poor sexual boundaries.  (I know mine mistakenly includes people with poor aggression boundaries as an example.)

  • There is something about me that makes people not want to touch me in a nurturing way.

On this one also, I don't think you have a neon sign on your forehead.  It may be bad luck.  It may be your people-picker doesn't know how to recognize people who CAN touch others in a nurturing way. 

  • People in general do not want to share nonsexual nurturing touch, except in a sexual relationship.

I would say this is close to my experience.  What I have found is that most people don't know HOW to share nonsexual, nurturing touch.  We don't see examples of this in the media, and unless it is practiced in the family, where would people learn?

  • These things must mean I don't deserve nurturing touch.

This is a lie.

  • Nonsexual, nurturing touch doesn't exist in the world for me.

This is a lie.

  • I don't want nonsexual, nurturing touch because it is too difficult to find.

This is a defense against the hurt of the lies.

  • I don't need nonsexual, nurturing touch.

This is a defense against the hurt of the lies.

 

-----------------------------

 

I feel for you.  I'm rambling along here because I'd really like to help while realizing this may not be helpful at all.  Sigh. 

 

Sending safe gentle care to precious you.

Intrepid, this resonates with me so much. I need to think about it, a lot. One therapist explained to me it was because my boundaries were not respected. I'm going to have to come back to this as well. As usual, thank you for sharing, and articulating for me something that often buzzes around in my head.
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intrepidshe
Mar 03 2014 07:45 PM

This was hard for me to read, certain places. I had not been deprived of nurturing touch as a young child. But I think it was lost with the CSA. Not sure. Don't remember much.

 

Touch has not been a part of my world for over twenty five years. I hope to change that. The current problems I have now I believe are in part because of that lack.

 

Thank you for posting this. I will need to read it again when I get home tonight. 

 

Candu, I feel so much shame still around this issue. I hope reading this wasn't triggering for you!

 

Your response is really helpful as it makes me feel less weird about admitting I want to be held. Every time I see myself write those words my skin blanches, like someone is going to punch me.

 

I hope you also find the kind of touch you need and can heal from the CSA. It's a terrible loss. Touch is so important!

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intrepidshe
Mar 03 2014 08:05 PM

I hear you.  I get it.  We all need that level, and it's not a common occurrence in my experience. 

 

I think the thing that stands out for me is what this particular level of touch communicates to us.  When I think of that level of touch, I feel it communicates many things that we need:  safety with another person, acceptance of us as we are, compassion for us, love for us as a person.  Since these things are communicated with touch, the communication becomes visceral, and the understanding of the experience is held deeply.

 

In my life, I've almost never experienced this.  I've had one instance of it in my entire life.  It lasted all of 5 minutes maybe, and it touched me deeply.  I'll never forget it.  The person who gave this experience to me is no longer living, and I honestly don't know if it will ever happen again.  I wasn't held, as in a hug.  Instead both my hands were held gently.  This was many years ago.

 

Now, well - I receive communication like this in many ways.  In my interactions with a couple of special people at church, I receive acceptance, compassion, love, and safety.  It's not received with the intensity of the one experience I had, but it is real nonetheless.  In the area of safe touch, I do go to a massage therapist now and then, and I cuddle my kids.  I very seldom receive safe, nonsexual touch in addition to acceptance, compassion, and love.  They tend to come separately to me.

metoyou.gif

 

May I also respond to your last list?  I heard such distress in it, and I wanted to respond in hopes of providing a little help.  Please toss anything not helpful, ok?  metoyou.gif

 

  • There is something about me that makes people respond to me sexually, no matter what I do.

I have experienced this kind of thing.  It is frustrating and makes the world seem like an unsafe place.  I would disagree that it's something about you.  I would say that its something about our culture.  Everything in the media is so very sexualized, and people mimic the media.  It is also possible that, due to the trauma you've experienced, your 'people picker' may need calibrating.  This does not mean that there is some sort of sexual neon sign on your forehead.  It only means that maybe your comfort zone (mistakenly) includes people with poor sexual boundaries.  (I know mine mistakenly includes people with poor aggression boundaries as an example.)

  • There is something about me that makes people not want to touch me in a nurturing way.

On this one also, I don't think you have a neon sign on your forehead.  It may be bad luck.  It may be your people-picker doesn't know how to recognize people who CAN touch others in a nurturing way. 

  • People in general do not want to share nonsexual nurturing touch, except in a sexual relationship.

I would say this is close to my experience.  What I have found is that most people don't know HOW to share nonsexual, nurturing touch.  We don't see examples of this in the media, and unless it is practiced in the family, where would people learn?

  • These things must mean I don't deserve nurturing touch.

This is a lie.

  • Nonsexual, nurturing touch doesn't exist in the world for me.

This is a lie.

  • I don't want nonsexual, nurturing touch because it is too difficult to find.

This is a defense against the hurt of the lies.

  • I don't need nonsexual, nurturing touch.

This is a defense against the hurt of the lies.

 

-----------------------------

 

I feel for you.  I'm rambling along here because I'd really like to help while realizing this may not be helpful at all.  Sigh. 

 

Sending safe gentle care to precious you.

 

Yarn, that does help. It really helped me when I wrote this to use the model you developed (the bulleted list at the end) for disentangling how I came to have so much shame around this issue. In writing it I let myself admit the series of thoughts underneath my shame.

 

It helps to address each bullet. It helps to challenge the lies and to acknowledge the realities.

 

I really didn't learn how to find safe people. I do have some safe people in my life, but not safe people who can touch me. In most cases, not people I would feel comfortable touching me.

 

Thanks for your response, Yarn! It is so difficult to come to grips with this, but I am seeing why I must.

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intrepidshe
Mar 03 2014 08:06 PM

Intrepid, this resonates with me so much. I need to think about it, a lot. One therapist explained to me it was because my boundaries were not respected. I'm going to have to come back to this as well. As usual, thank you for sharing, and articulating for me something that often buzzes around in my head.

 

Lua, thanks for affirming these thoughts. It helps so much knowing I am not alone in having this experience and struggling with these ideas.

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

 

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