I want to be touched, and I don’t want to be touched.
It’s a dilemma
It’s always been like this, but it’s gotten worse. I know exactly why I feel this way. There are two reasons. One of them has always been an issue. The other developed in young adulthood.
The first reason I don’t want to be touched, no matter how badly I long for physical human contact, is my lack of confidence. I am afraid that I am not good enough — not good enough to be touched.
During one of my first relationships, I told my boyfriend that I had a stomachache. We were riding on the city bus. He reached over and put his hand on my stomach to rub it, and I cringed. I was terrified that my stomach was too big, too round, too fat, not good enough to be touched. I was 16 years old. I wore single-digit jeans. I weighed 127 pounds.
After we broke up, I dated someone new. One night as we sat in the back seat of a friend’s car, he touched my stomach. I pulled away, and he got angry. “I won’t touch you,” he said, “but I want you to know that I would if I wanted to.” I was 17 years old. I still wore single-digit jeans. I still weighed 127 pounds.
I put on weight throughout the years, as women often do. The added pounds didn’t help my self-esteem. Dating men who commented on my weight hasn’t helped. One man called my weight a “stumbling block.” He said he wasn’t comfortable touching me — and I became even more uncomfortable with being touched.
The trend continues, even now. When someone touches me, holds me, pulls me close for a loving embrace, I wonder what it feels like to touch me. Am I too misshapen, too big, too round, too soft? Does holding me feel like holding a water balloon, a water bottle, or a water buffalo?
I don’t want to know.
Why am I like this?
The second reason I don’t want to be touched, even when my body is screaming for physical connection with another living breathing human being is more complicated than the first. Or maybe it’s simpler.
I was physically abused by a man who vowed to love, honor and obey. The feeling of a man’s hands on my body reminds me of the feeling of his hands on my body, and I grow terrified. I cringe inwardly or outwardly, often both.
Having someone touch my face is unbearable. It brings me back to the times when my husband would grab me by my lower jaw and drag me across the floor on my knees. He would sink four fingers behind my bottom teeth under my tongue and push his thumb up into the underside of my jawline.
Then he forced me to crawl on my knees with his hand in my mouth. Is it any wonder that I recoil when someone’s fingers touch my face? Is it any wonder that I say, over and over again, that I don’t need a man in my life? I don’t think so.
I find myself longing to be touched while hating to be touched. Any act of physical affection becomes a push/pull. Even if I want to be held close, I pull away. Even if I want to be touched, I push away.
It’s difficult to focus on anything but the confusion in my head. I feel like my brain is short-circuiting, and I’m powerless to make it stop.
I want you to touch me, but I don’t want to be touched.