I’m on the careful side of the safety spectrum during this pandemic. I’m not perfect but I’m confident I’m one of the more careful ones. I still don’t feel comfortable to sit and eat at a restaurant. I’m still not ready to travel on a train, bus, boat or airplane. And yet…I would pay a LOT of money for a lengthy cuddle. I would risk my life and self-quarantine for a month after in order to have a thirty minute cuddle.
I woke up at 5am today and couldn’t get back to sleep. I googled “lack of touch COVID” and the first hit had the term “touch starvation”. I went down the rabbit hole of skimming dozens of these articles. Many of them were written before the pandemic helping me see that this was not just a trendy term that was invented in the past couple of months but rather a real phenomenon that leads to depression, anxiety, irritability, reactivity and…a tendency to avoid secure attachments!
The trauma I carried with me into this pandemic already predisposed me to literally EVERYTHING on that list. ALL OF IT. And I’m living through a period that is eliciting those things even in people who do not have trauma. It’s no wonder I feel half-crazy. It’s not a shock I spend so much energy trying to hold it all together. It makes sense that no matter how hard I try to be kind to myself and mindful I still feel that something essential is missing.
And the desperation behind that…there’s nowhere to go with it. I mean…I try. I exercise. I work. I try to do sweet things. But they are all coping mechanisms. Think of it this way…imagine you are hungry for food. You can drink water and meditate and push through the pangs. You can “cope”. But eventually you will begin to starve.
Yes, I would pay for a cuddle. No, not a massage–a cuddle/hug. It’s true. Man or woman. So long as they had kind and warm energy. But even that is just a fantasy. A fantasy as useless as the fantasy that a magical vaccine will be released on 1/1/2021 and that we will all go back to “normal”.
The articles…they were helpful in terms of validating me. Not so much in terms of offering solutions. Don’t get me wrong–they offered the best they could offer. Good solid ideas. Most of which I use or have tried to use: exercise, self-massage/touch, touching a cat/dog, mindfulness, etc. And I’m not knocking any of this. For all I know doing these things have kept me from walking off a cliff. But the hunger pangs….they find their way back because I haven’t truly eaten in seven months and there is nothing on the horizon.
I’m going to watch a football game now. I’ll ride the emotional roller coaster of that to distract me from the real roller coaster! And then…then I’ll do many of the things on those lists. I’ll probably exercise and eat meals and use my massager gizmo and pet the dog etc etc.
If you have good safe touch in your life…please do not take it for granted. But I don’t think I’m writing this for those who do. I mean, don’t get me wrong…I’m writing this for me. To keep from going all the way nutty. But I think a small part of me is hoping that I have some reader in Taiwan or Iceland or Argentina or Detroit that might be going through this too. And to them–imaginary or not–I’m tapping my heart and blowing a kiss.