Thursday, June 5, 2014

More on the power of touch

Tonight, I had another incident that illustrated to me how powerful touch can be for me if used in a way that is comfortable for me.

The funny thing was when I said to her after "You knew what to do! Most people don't" and she said "Well, you told me" (earlier it had come up in conversation around 45 min or so before) and I said "You remembered!" and she said "Well, I listened" and I was just so struck by how much she had been paying attention. But anyway, from the beginning....  

S gave me a ride from the church in South Portland where the improv class was. I was reasonably calm when we left, since we had sat for a while in a safe area of the 4th floor talking after the class. I remembered I didn't have any money left for the bus, though, and asked if we could stop at the ATM that I knew was in Mill Creek, which we were passing by. Oh, I thought it would be so easy! lol Usually ATMs aren't mechanisms of torture, although this one was. I have never experienced a more painful ATM or high pitched noise in my life. And I am pretty sure I used to use that ATM before so I don't know what gives. Maybe I was more sensitive because I was stressed. Either way. I go to use it and I hear these God-awful LOUD AND HIGH PITCHED NOISES when you push the buttons. Why the hell do buttons need to beep when you push them? Most of the ATMs, this noise is low pitched enough that it doesn't bother me, it's just the high pitched ones that tear right through me. Once would have been bad enough, but I had to push the stupid button like 5 times and I was pretty wrecked by the time that I was done.

I screamed at the machine and I am sure my body language clearly expressed how upset I was. You just lose all sense of anything outside of yourself when those things happen. It just becomes about surviving. There is no sense of other people existing in the world. I got back in the car, she asked me "Mission accomplished?" with the end of her voice sounding a little quizzical. I said yes and focused on closing the door and getting myself ready to go. My body was jerking every which way, far more than it does when I am calm, and I couldn't sit still due to the agitation. But there were no words, that I used, yet. She reached out and put her hand firmly on my back, near my ribs. Instantly, I calmed down. The feeling of her hand and the deep pressure (or moderate pressure, anyway) of her hand connected my body and mind to the world, and it stopped jerking around and was calm. The machine had filled my body with so much negative energy with its sensory assault, but the feeling of someone whom I respected communicating love, and caring, and just love... caring... respect.... caring... I can't get over the words love and caring for some reason. I just felt it. Her positive energy flowed into me, and the negative energy left. I still didn't feel great physically but I was able to be more calm about it. Magic. The magic of human connection. I have a feeling that 90% of my agitation, anxiety and distress comes from not feeling connected to others, and if I did, when I do finally find a way to feel this and to believe in myself and be okay with myself and accept myself, that most of the agitation might just go away. It's a long and very hard and very bumpy and very painful road. But it just might eventually lead somewhere I want to go. So those, I suppose, are the best roads.

I was trying to think if anyone had ever done that before. My friend Laura did it once, during college, only once, but it was just as powerful and amazing then. I hadn't thought of it until now. We were in the dining hall and I was upset over something. She took her hand and put it firmly on my shoulder. Not lightly like people do but firmly. And all my agitation just stopped. Light touch is agitating, deep pressure or firm touch is calming. Unless it is of course so firm it hurts or someone fragranced, and it probably helps if it is someone you know and have some degree of trust with, but yeah. No one ever knew this about me and I didn't even know it about myself till now. How do I find more avenues to get it? I hope to find out.

So, I may have not gotten to go to the class, but I got to discover a way in which I could feel supported by others even in the worst of meltdowns. A way other than engaging me verbally which I usually like to do but the vast majority of people don't have the words or energy maybe to be able to be there in a verbal way. But most people can do touch. And I well I thought I couldn't take part in that language. But now I am realizing starting to realize that maybe I can. If I am allowed to set the rules, then maybe I can. Maybe there is hope yet. 

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