Touching (Part 1)

(I am almost done writing about the Sweden holiday. Only one more section is left, the one about touching. I wrote about some of it in the section on sleeping arrangements as well, which left me with nervous energy buzzing through my body, so I took a break and a few deep breaths afterwards. Now I click back to the open document. For a moment, my mind is blank. Where do I start? Eventually, I just start typing. I’m going to edit it later anyway.)

Touching. Oh man. Where do I even start.

Touching, like sleeping, was Hell.

In the last section, I wrote that I don’t like being petted when I’m trying to sleep. That was an understatement. In truth, I don’t like being petted when I’m trying to do almost anything else at the time.
When I’m just reading or watching a movie, it’s bearable but distracting – I’m always a little anxious about the touch getting too close for comfort to places I don’t want touched or staying in one place for so long it feels like it’s slowly grinding away my skin or turning bad in some other way. But when I’m trying to focus on something (writing, or reading something challenging), it’s extremely unwelcome.

Worse than petting, however, is hugging me when I’m busy with something else. That is a pretty failsafe way to get me ready to explode.

(I take another short break, searching for words. Then I hit the keys again in a burst of impatience and irritation.)

And I don’t even know how to explain this, because I fail to understand how anyone can believe differently. How do you not think it horribly rude to just grab someone who is peacefully minding their own business, to physically confine them, to force them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing? How do you consider yourself and your own desire to hug them right now so much more important than anything they might have going on – getting food or going to the bathroom or going back to their book excited to find out what’s happening next or whatever – that you don’t even have to ask, verbally or in body language, before you physically interrupt them and prevent them from completing it?

(Memories of countless times D hugged me against my will and/or held on to me for too long flood my mind, memories of times I hunched my shoulders and kept my gaze averted when walking past him and thought “please don’t please don’t please don’t”, all of them running together into a seething slurry of anger and frustration.)

And then they have to appease you with attention and kisses to your satisfaction before you let them go, like you’re some fucking deity demanding a sacrifice??? How does it not occur to you that they might not want any of that? How does it not occur to you that, when you’ve grabbed someone in this unbelievably rude way and they freeze or go limp and turn their head away and avoid eye contact or literally try to move away, you should FUCKING LET GO OF THEM???

(My hands are too busy typing to shake, but it feels as if they should. My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. My mind is racing and frozen at the same time, a disoriented and disjointed feeling. I tell myself to calm down, slow down, gentling my thoughts and turning them towards better memories.)

C is good about these things. When he wants attention, a kiss, a hug, or a cuddle, he tentatively draws closer, waits for me to acknowledge him, and often verbally asks for it. C has never reached out to me when I was just walking past and not looking at him. When he is hugging or kissing me and I move backwards, away from him, he lets go.
(He did use to pet a single spot for ages until it hurt, and just follow whenever I moved the body part in question away, but after I told him so once he noticeably tried to do better.)

D is not.
I was getting food once, shaker bottle in my hand and moving towards the counter, when D caught me from behind. I went still for a moment or two, and then, hoping that had been enough, made a move towards the counter again. He just tightened his grip and only let go when I was frustrated enough to loudly tell him to.
Another time, I was walking past him (my shoulders drawn forward and my gaze locked straight ahead), and he looked up and reached out for me. I had kept carefully out of his range anyway, but took another small step sideways just to make absolutely clear that I didn’t want to be reached. He produced a sound of mock outrage and got up. I had passed him by then, and – almost involuntarily – sped up, literally running away, until I had reached the couch at the end of the room and had nowhere left to go, and then dropped down, ducking my head, and he caught me anyway and drew me towards him and didn’t let go until I had given up and gone slack and let him kiss me.

(I form the next sentence I want to write, but before I can type it, my fingers freeze, stilled by another memory, and then I can’t because it is a lie.)

And this is where I’d assure you that he’d let go if I asked him to, except one morning I tried to get up while he was holding me, and he didn’t let go, and then I asked him to, and he just replied: “And what if I don’t?”

(I blink. This can’t be right. He didn’t meant it. There’s something I’m forgetting, or remembering wrong.)


(More memories come, unbidden, and when I type again, I only type my own disorganized thoughts, debating myself, my mind splintering into conflicting parties and each one throwing a sentence or two onto the screen before another one hijacks my fingers.)


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