Body contact

Yesterday I had the doubtful pleasure of a partner exercise in a yoga lesson. Just hearing the word resulted in a lump in my throat but as I am me, I just clenched my teeth and did it. Afterwards I brooded over what body contact means for me for a few hours.

Even as a child I never had the impression that being touched by other people was a desirable thing. The grown-ups were huge, didn’t smell good, were breathing too loudly or felt too warm for me. I never felt comforted or secure by being held. That doesn’t mean that every hug was terrible for me but I always kind of felt like I was waiting for it to pass and then going on with my life.

I often watched myself from the outside when adults touched me and I don’t just mean situations in which anyone would like to leave their body behind. As I grew older I was often told that I just stood still when someone hugged me. Also stroking (somehow I don’t even like the word) has always been difficult for me. I catch myself wondering how it is done “correctly” instead of just doing or enoying it or whatever it is other people do – how do you know if the speed, the pressure, the timing are okay?

In my life I have met about five people with whom it wasn’t like that. I can’t even say why but with those few special people it just feel natural to hug, cuddle, whatever…It’s a miracle for me to not think about what to do but just enjoy it. To not wonder why someone would like to hug me instead of talking but simply feeling the same.

I don’t know any borderline personality who doesn’t have a “special” relationship with body contact. There are those who can’t bear it and those who look for an acknowledgment that will never be enough by having sex and so on. With this statement I don’t want to strengthen any stereotypes, this is just my experience with concerned people I had the pleasure of meeting. Very unscientifically I am assuming that many of us have had experiences with undesired or unpleasant physical contact – maybe that’s why. Or it’s because it just feels strange when someone hugs the body you’re watching from the outside. Or it’s because many of us have a terrible opinion about themselves and we fear doing something “wrong”. Or, or, or.

Sometimes I’m sorry I am like that because I have rejected people without meaning to. I often would like to be able to interact with people the way I can with animals – tickling a cat’s or a dog’s ears is so much easier than finding the “right” amount of body contact for different human relationships. As if I was an alien who has been trying to learn it for years I often don’t know if what I did was appropriate after hugs. I fear making a fool of myself when I show my affection.

As I often feel powerless when it comes to state my need of closeness or distance I automatically assume that that’s what others feel as well and therefore prefer to not do anything instead of doing something wrong. Working with dancers has helped a little as these people have a very natural way of dealing with their own bodies as well as the bodies of other people. In dance there are fixed rules as to how and when you touch, it is technical and therefore easier for me. Maybe I should just stick to dancing with people instead of trying to hug them…


4 thoughts on “Body contact

  1. I keep an imaginary one meter zone around me, roughly arm length, as my personal space. Everything and everyone inside it is evaluated and if needed, kept out. I achieve this by simple tricks, like holding a shopping bag inside the space, manouvering around people or by changing my stance. I scan for posdible ‘threats’outside the personal space, but I don’t focus on them too much.

    This way I hope to avoid body contact. Martial arts have taught me to be more comfortable with body contact, but only when on the mat in the gym. If someone touches me in other situations, except for a few select persons, I go into alert mode, by body starts to lock up in order to do whatever it takes to clear my personal space as soon as possible.

    It’s not as bad as it used to be and I tolerate people in my personal space a bit more easily, although I am on edge when it happens and I will peacefully move away or clear my space. But overall, I just use preventive tricks to keep my perdonal space personal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally see what you mean…these “tricks” work well with strangers, I find it more difficult to figure out how to keep my personal space when around people who like me but are not amongst those I feel actually comfortable touching…it’s a tricky topic I guess.
      What you say about MA is what I meant about dancing – when there are rules and a set space, body conctact is okay…that’s something I guess šŸ™‚
      Thanks for your advice!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it’s tricky with people you know. It’s decorum, one of those social ‘pleasasantries’ you have to undertake not to be regarded as socially awkward. It’s a difficult one.

        Liked by 1 person

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