Sometimes it is the small things that really matter. I once started a short story about the importance of kisses…something that had gone from the relationship. Now, I am watching all my social media feeds missing hugs.
I completed a risk assessment the other day and basically rated as a recluse, and that is despite using my pre-Corona contact levels in the assessment. I don’t casually touch anyone and despite being a parent, I am acutely aware of the disquiet hugs from my children can sometimes bring. They know sometimes mummy is just too prickily to be touched.
That is the thing. Casual touch is just too soft. Too gentle. Makes my skin crawl. And as a strapping girl, getting that pressure just right to give a hug, so it is strong enough to be tolerable and gentle enough to be casual is a social nightmare. So, I just avoid it unless absolutely necessary.
It’s not just the actual physicality or mechanics of a hug. Working out whether a relationship has reached the right level of intimacy for a hug to be appropriate is also difficult. Even when it comes to virtual hugs.
Whilst I was never aware of missing touch, I was a lonely young person. Not participating in the welcoming hugs at college automatically set you aside. Marked you as different. Hugs are such a social marker of acceptance. Of belonging. Where sex often pre-dates mental intimacy with someone, a hug shows emotional connection. Understanding. And when you struggle with these things, the missing hug is often the social distinguishing feature.
In the last few years, when my children were receiving occupational therapy support for their autism, their wonderful therapist finally helped me understand what my issue was. Hyper-sensitivity and hypo-sensitivity can combine in autistic people so that light touch is unbearable, but deep touch is amazing. It is that way for both myself and all my children.
Suddenly, lots of things made sense. Before I was sexually aware, we used to play a form of kiss chase in the playground. Lots of girls would chase a group a willing boys and drag them to a corner made by two brick walls and we would crush in against them, squashing them and enjoying their giggly screams. But it was also the crushing. The pressure of being squeezed… and there are so many ways of indulging that need more subtly in public, from restrictive under clothes to weighted touch from people who know you well enough.
Body to body, the weight of another person pinning me down, is comforting (or given the right context, delicious!). While not a social hug, the total body contact is heavy enough to be really stimulating without triggering my light touch avoidance. And, if you are intimate enough to ask someone to lie on you, then hugging is probably the well within the intimacy range you’ve reached.
The kink world has so much to offer someone for whom heavy touch is the only bearable touch. It is also comforting because there is also often much more direct consent-based communication before people just swoop in for a social hug. How I wish that was the norm for the rest of my social interactions.
I carry on through my daily life hyper-aware, as we all are at the moment, but with not much affected. I’ve always avoided crowds and can’t bear the supermarket. I work from my home office, and still have “contact” whether in person or online with all my students, but even the ones I’m now teaching daily don’t breach the three feet of personal space around me, and are rarely closer than six feet away. I don’t hug the ever lovely Mr Hunt or my parents, and it’s more likely you’ll find a child lying on me than any other sign of affection.
Right now, I’m glad I’m not lonely without touch. Not missing the hugs of non-familial people. Not even really missing touching my mum.
Currently, the only hug I’ll miss is in last week’s prompt post.