Tactile

I’m an extremely tactile person.

The sense I use the most to explore the world is touch. I’m an extremely tactile person. Getting the feel of things is how I comprehend them.

I suspect that most people think that I fidget too much. While I’m listening to others, my hands are often in motion. If there’s anything slippery or soft or oddly shaped in my presence, I’m petting it like a pedigree cat. If I’m wearing clothing with complex stitching, I’m tracing its contours, over and over and over again.

I pet my dog so much that I’m amazed he has any fur left on his body. He seems to like it, though. At least, he keeps coming back for more. (I can’t imagine owning a Mexican Hairless, but I’m dying to know what one feels like.)

I don’t mind navigating dark spaces if I’m familiar with them, because my hands and feet tell me where I am. If I were to go blind, I might be upset, but I’d quickly adapt. (I would like to know how touching someone’s face helps a blind person visualize it, but it’s not like I can walk up to people and ask to touch their faces.)

If I’m told not to touch something, it drives me absolutely nuts. I become obsessed. What does that thing feel like? I have to know! Fortunately, my desire to follow the rules is stronger than my desire to inspect. Usually. So the Mona Lisa would be safe with me. Probably.

I absolutely love holding my husband’s hand. I adore sincere hugs. I love baths because they feel like full body hugs. Walking barefoot seems like the ultimate luxury to me.

Am I weird, or is this normal? Does this resonate with you, dear reader? If it does, I’d like to shake your hand.

Touch

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Boundary Disputes Made Easy

If Jerusalem has taught us nothing else, it’s that people take their boundaries very seriously. We like there to be a clear-cut distinction between what’s ours and what’s yours. Make no mistake: We don’t really forgive you your trespasses. History bears this out.

Because of this, it should come as no shock that we also have boundary issues on a personal level. Actually, no, man, I do NOT want you touching me without permission. Don’t act so surprised.

In fact, I don’t want to be “accidentally” elbowed in the elevator. I don’t want to be patted on the shoulder. I don’t want any unsolicited hugs. I don’t want to be forced into inappropriate conversations any more than I want to be forced into inappropriate corners. I don’t want to be followed or harassed or intimidated or taken advantage of or hooted at or tooted at. I don’t want to see your private bits, either digitally or in person. I don’t want to be called honey or sweetie or darling or dear. And my eyes? They’re up here.

Here’s an idea: if you want to do something with me, just ask. I’ll let you know. Is that so hard? And in the meantime, keep your freakin’ hands to yourself. It’s just that simple.

So, pay attention. There will be a test later. And I don’t grade on a curve. This is a Pass/Fail proposition.

Proxemics

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Psst. Over Here. In the Unpainted Corner.

I tend to think of relationships as solid, especially the long-lasting ones. But here lately I’ve been working on my boundaries quite a bit, and that has tested quite a few friendships. It’s scary and it’s lonely and I keep doubting myself. Just in time for the holidays. Woo hoo.

I have always had boundary issues, probably because none were ever established for me as a child. I tend to be a wide open, laissez-faire kind of person, which is fine when things are going well, but not so hot when things go pear-shaped. While I’m quick to stand up for others, I’m not one to stand up for myself.

Saying, “What you are doing is not okay with me” is something that doesn’t come naturally to me. It takes effort. It causes me a great deal of stress. That probably stems from the fact that I constantly second-guess myself. Am I doing the right thing? Am I being rational? Is it okay that I’m not okay with what you’re doing? Bleh. It’s all so exhausting.

So here I am, practicing boundaries. Here’s what’s been going on in just the past few weeks:

  • I’ve had to tell one distant friend from high school that I’m not comfortable with him popping up out of the blue after 35 years and sending me about a dozen (ignored) hug gifs and expecting me to do so in return. We never even hugged in high school. He didn’t get the message, and I had to un-friend him on Facebook.
  • Another friend used my blog to try to right a wrong, but when the post got the attention of “real” reporters, he refused to follow through. This undermines my integrity as a writer. It also gives me the impression that he doesn’t take my blog very seriously, and was just hoping to clear his conscience and not actually get results. I had to explain why, and just how much, I didn’t appreciate this behavior. I haven’t heard from him since.
  • And even as we speak, a contractor (not a friend, but still…) is about to receive a letter from me, outlining the fact that he ripped me off to the tune of $1700.00, which is money I can’t afford to lose. We’ll probably wind up in small claims court over this. But he’s an intimidating guy. I really don’t know how he’s going to react to my letter. I’m sitting here, feeling sick to my stomach about this, waiting for things to hit the fan.
  • But probably the most distressing situation of all is that some very beloved friends shocked me recently, to the point where I felt the need to distance myself and write them a letter about how I felt, in which I asked them to please help me to understand why they reacted the way they did. Boy, did I ever paint myself into a corner with that one. I’ve had no response from them. Crickets. So now I’m left wondering if I’ve misinterpreted things and they’re furious, or if they’re just too embarrassed to respond. It also makes me wonder if they care about me as much as I care about them, and not knowing that makes it extremely awkward to envision walking back into their lives again. I don’t know if I’d be welcomed or not. I don’t want to force them into anything, but on the other hand, I can’t just pretend nothing happened. It’s too important to me.  I miss them, but I’m so confused.

Boundaries, man. They suck. As my therapist says, though, once you start making changes and move toward a healthier you, not everyone in your life will want to tag along.

So if you’re looking for me, I’m the one standing over here in the lonely, unpainted corner. (I guess if you’re wanting to establish boundaries, that’s one way to do it.) All I can say is that I’m a work in progress, and it will be really interesting to see who is still with me when the dust settles.

Meanwhile, I sure miss the days when it was easy to get a Xanax prescription.

boundaries

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Free Hugs

I saw a Free Hugs t-shirt for sale on line at a fairly reasonable price, and I said to myself, “I gotta get me one of those!” (Yes, I know. My grammar sometimes flies out the window when I’m speaking to myself. So sue me. I usually know what I mean.)

Since then I’ve worn it a couple of times, most notably at the recent Seattle Pridefest on Capitol Hill. I figured that after the Orlando shootings, people were going to need hugs. I knew I did.

I must have been hugged by 20 strangers that day. What an amazing experience. Some would come up and shyly ask for a hug. Others would see me from a distance, throw their arms wide, and rush at me like a linebacker. Those made me laugh as well as smile. During each hug, we’d say, “Happy Pride!!!”

I feel healthier, happier, for having spread some love. I think this has become my shirt of choice for all large gatherings. It was kind of funny because my nephew was visiting from out of town, and half the time when someone would hug me, he’d assume it was someone I knew, and he’d be mildly insulted that I didn’t introduce him. Then he’d remember the shirt.

One time I even forgot about the shirt myself, and this guy in a slightly rougher part of town came at me with arms outstretched, and I briefly thought the worst. I think that may have hurt his feelings, and I still feel bad about it. That hug did not feel as good as it should have. I wish I could turn back time and give him a more genuine hug. That shirt brings with it a certain responsibility that I hadn’t anticipated.

That caused me to wonder what would happen if someone wanted to hug me whom I didn’t want to hug, someone very dirty or with open sores and rotting teeth or something. What would I do? My shirt didn’t say, “Free hugs unless you look like you could be contagious.”

I have to admit that some of the huggers, after a day-long festival in the bright sunshine, didn’t smell as good as they probably usually did, but I still found the experience worth it. And in the end, the hug gods seemed to be watching over me. Everyone who came up to me seemed to do it with an open heart and a genuine spirit.

I did see several people look at my shirt and then hesitate a bit. I think they wanted a hug but were afraid to go for it. I’d smile at them, but I certainly didn’t want to cause discomfort. A hug should never be forced. I hope I at least planted the seed in them for the next free hugger who crosses their path.

Sending you a virtual hug, dear reader, if you want one. We’re all in this together, after all.

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