I’ve written before, and I’ve seen study and study that talks about the power of touch. I’ve also mentioned that, as a sexual abuse survivor, sometimes we have a lot of trouble really connecting with people in the same way because of the various issues we have with being touched, and the struggle to see a simple show of friendly affection as opposed to a sexually aggressive move. We can’t always tell the difference.
I’ve been reminded of that these past couple of weeks because my wife has been traveling as part of her job. Of all the things I miss when she’s gone, (and there are plenty!) it’s the lack of touching (giving and receiving) that I feel the most acutely. You see, as much as I love the things we do together, from talking, to going places, to laughing, etc. I can sort of replace those things with my friends. Not that it’s the same, but I can get enough conversation, laughs, social events, etc. to get by while my wife is gone just by scheduling time to go to lunch with coworkers, or have dinner with friends, or go to Byrne’s Pub like I mentioned last week so that I don’t wind up spending all the time she’s away wrapped up in my own head. (Not always the safest place for me to spend extended time!)
The one thing I can’t replace is the touching aspect. Oh, I can get a hug from a female friend or two, but that’s not much to get by on at the end of the day. There’s no one to simply hold my hand when I’m stressed, or to rub my arm when I’m feeling unsettled, etc. As a married man, that type of touching seems to really be the realm of my wife, and no one else. According to the studies I’ve seen, it’s exactly that type of touch that is the most powerful. It forms a human connection that seems to provide peace and security. It’s no wonder then, that I struggle with that when my wife is away. I’m prone to get out of sorts, and unfocused. I’ve found ways to combat that, but it’s a struggle, because normally when I feel that way, there’s someone there to reassure me with a touch.