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…