As you come of age, or to a certain point in your life, you begin to realize why you are the way you are. Your strengths, your weaknesses, your fears, your beliefs, etc. Over time, you find yourself, if you are one of the lucky ones. You discover things, you learn, you make mistakes, you fall, you get up, cry, scream, laugh, love...all of these are in place to make up the structure that is you. Every minute, every little detail. At the moment that things are happening, you don't quite understand, or you may not even notice. They may not be significant to you at that time. Years later, something small will happen, or a memory will be jarred, you will reflect, look back, and realize, ah, that's why, and smile.
I didn't have a loving relationship with my parents. I didn't have much of a relationship at all. I struggled in many areas because of this. Parents are supposed to be the roots that give you balance, give you the base of life, to move up, forward, lifting you towards the sky....yeah, not me. This tree was more of a sage brush. Dried up, cracked, and left to blow away in the desolate desert.
I read a very interesting article this afternoon about the Power of Touch. This is the actual article below.
Touch is the only one of our five senses that doesn't lose its potency with age. As we grow old, our sense of smell becomes less acute; our sense of taste becomes less discriminating; our acuity of hearing diminishes; our eyesight needs enhancement, but touch does not change. In fact, our need to touch and be touched becomes greater. We find glasses which help us to sharpen our sense of sight; we get fitted with hearing aids, in an attempt to restore our pleasure in listening to music, and to understand what others are saying to us. But we don't need any external aids to get joy from our sense of touch. It doesn't diminish.
There are small things that tell us this. We like to have our hair washed and combed; we like to have pedicures; we like to stroke each other and to be stroked, even in small ways. I find myself patting my friend's hand; deciding to use a cane rather than a walker. If I use a walker, I don't need anyone else's help; I am more independent than if I relied on someone to lean on with one hand, while I lean on my cane with the other. I like the touch of my friend's hand. Ah, and massage! Oh, the joys of a good massage! I recommend having a massage at least once a week, and also, if possible, learning how to give a good massage.
We are born with the need to be touched. If we are not cuddled as babies or children, we do not develop as well. Mammals, also, need to be touched and cuddled as pups. There are many experiments with chimpanzees, orangutans, Bonobos, as well as other monkeys, rats, cats and dogs, which demonstrate dramatically the difference between touched and cuddled as babies and those who are not.
All animals have a profound sense of touch. Sponges, tapeworms, insect-eating plants live mainly by touch. A woodpecker uses its tongue to find insects; penguins must touch to survive -- the babies stand on their parents' feet and press close to their warm bellies. Watch a house cat rub and wrap itself around its owner's leg. Observe a dog squirming with pleasure when it gets its stomach scratched, or its ears stroked.
Diane Ackerman, in her provocative book "A Natural History of the Senses," says, "Touch is a sense with unique functions and qualities ... Touch affects the whole organism." She quotes Saul Schanberg, "It's ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact, and it affects damn near everything we do. No other sense can arouse you like touch." Schanberg stated, "If touch didn't feel good, there'd be no species, parenthood or survival. A mother wouldn't touch her baby unless the mother felt pleasure doing it. If we didn't like the feeling of touching and patting one another, we wouldn't have had sex ... We forget that touch is not only basic to our species, but the key to it." In the absence of touching and being touched, people of all ages can sicken and grow touch-starved.
I've seen bumper stickers that ask, "Did you hug your child today?" I'd like to see a bumper sticker which reminds us to hug each other more than we would do a tree. Trees don't respond the way people do. At 93 plus, I have a caregiver who comes every day to help me bathe and dress. We make it a point to hug each other; I massage her back, and she massages mine. She also massages my feet, hips and legs, and I feel exhilarated by her touch.
Have you ever noticed the way baseball players touch each other? They pat each other on the back, stroke and hug each other; they grab each other's butts as they trot onto the field. Football players go into a huddle, their bodies touching, and then they slap each other's hands as they leave the huddle and run onto the field. A coach will pat his players' heads.Tennis players shake hands and hug each other.
Our sense of self is related to our sense of touch; with how we feel. We stroke our forearms; we run our fingers through our hair to relieve stress. And as we age, we need more assurance that we are loved. If the restrictions of our culture frown on touching, holding hands, hugging and kissing, we have to ignore them. We have to learn to give each other joy through touch, the most important of our senses.
This article holds significance to me for many reasons. I read it, and suddenly realized why I am longing for certain things, and why they hold such importance to me. I hear about epiphany's all the time, and having one at this time for me was a surreal moment, after having quite an extensive conversation yesterday with a very cherished friend. Now, I will explain....
I did not go to my Mother's funeral. I was not welcome, I was not "allowed". I was told on the telephone, by my brother, not to come, and if I did, there would be hell to pay. I won't bother to go in to any more detail at the moment, but those that know me, pretty much understand. To no surprise at all, I found out about two weeks ago, my brother announced at the funeral, to my relatives, that he and my sister in law, were "terribly" worried that I was going to ROB my parents home during the funeral services, as I had "threatened" to do so. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. This is the sickening, disgusting, dysfunctional reality of my family that I have had to deal with most of my life. I therefore, choose to stay away. They say I am dead, I am happy to oblige. My only wish, ever, is that I had some family pictures. Family history to me is very important, and I have nothing to pass along to my children. They don't want the pictures of me, why can't I have them? It then came to me today, reading this article....BLAM!!
There is not one....not one single picture, ever, that I remember growing up, of me with my Mother. Not one. Not as a baby, not as a child. Certainly not as an infant. Never as a toddler. I remember one of me, when I was about 2, standing in the living room. My pot belly sticking out under a t shirt, eating a potato chip. The photo is black and white. My brunette curls, just above my shoulder. My father and mother, sitting on the couch, looking elsewhere. No, they are not holding me, not even looking at me. I started to think. My insecurities, my worries, my constant fears. How often was I held? Did she ever hold me? Hug me? Reading the article, knowing that as a baby, it is so important. I know, certainly, later, myself, my younger brother, we both have spoken. We both have moments, and I am talking years, of lost time. I have absolutely no memory of age 3 to age 8. None. When he talked to me about this, he has similar memory block. I also have loss of age 10 to about 13.
I know everyone has a story. I know most have much worse issues than I. Struggles are what they are, and you make the best of what you have. Learning from it all is the most important. I know I am still learning, and still working on some of those issues, and trying. I am not perfect, and not every going to pretend that I am. I don't want to live in Disneyland. There is always a brutal murder at the beginning of every one of those Disney movies...has anyone else noticed that? Kind of freaky....no thanks. Real life is hard enough. I am gonna stick with the real deal, and just make the best of it.