Ten Things of Thankful 114 #10Thankful

I have decided that I might be a ‘touchy feely’ person after all, in spite of being English and uptight and most definitely not into showing affection for anyone, ever.

Perhaps this will come as no surprise to people who know me In Real; after all, the people to whom I’m closest will have undoubtedly had their share of hugs, linked arms, held hands, kissed cheeks, shoulder massages, and the dubious pleasure of sitting close, talking, with various bits of me draped across, over or around them. Touch (especially skin-to-skin) is a bonding thing: it releases oxytocin – a hormone we need to thrive. And it’s a hormone which can’t be generated any other way – our brains only make it after warm, responsive physical contact (probably) – and it’s something which has slightly frustrated me about the geography of online friendships, because within them it’s absolutely impossible to tap into any but those very small portions of human communication which are afforded by words. And maybe pictures, and to a lesser extent, snail mail and videos.

This is perhaps what has led to so much pooh-poohing of the online friendship – the prospect that two minds, hearts and souls could meet in the World Between the Wires and connect deeply, beautifully, irrevocably, is somehow too skewed away from the hormone-drenched, far more visceral understanding of friendship – is just too much to be contemplated.

I’ve always been torn, but I’m very aware that in less than a month, I’m to embark on what is going to be one of the most beautiful journeys of my life as I wend my way across America, cradled in the help and support of my friends, who have become integral parts of my everyday, in many cases, and I will get to meet them and learn their movements, their height against my own, the way they look as shadows move over them, and most most of all, I will be able to hug them, if they let me..

This whole trip is going to be a MASSIVE oxytocin-fuelled high.

I can’t wait!

That said, I adore the sense of touch in other ways, too (yes, that too but it’s not what I’m talking about here so shush!), and a small, unassuming moment this evening reminded me how important it is to me, and so I thought I would let that steer my thankfuls this week.

The small and unassuming moment happened when I was sat astride my bike, in the car-park next to Jenny’s alcove, chatting. I’ve mentioned Beki a long time ago, and she’s back, fled from her accommodation because she was allowed to be in danger, and an appalling lack of compassion was shown towards her by the staff there. She feels safer with Jenny looking out for her, so that’s what she’s done, and she has a burrow of cardboard boxes (and a sleeping bag and pillow) the next alcove along.

Anyway, she’d been sleeping as Jenny and I wiled away the time chatting, and when she woke, she shambled out into the car-park, still nap-dazed and tired, and as she walked past me, she reached out and let her hand rest gently on my elbow and cradle it – her soft, warm skin to mine – as she asked “Y’alright?” I realised with a shock that in spite of the fact I’d seen a clinic-full of patients today, and had contact with each one of them as I administered their eye-drops, this was the first moment of contact for me – the first time that day that anyone had reached out and touched me with affection.

It was stilling and lovely and also a bit sad and tearful-on-the-inside, because this wonderful, messy-beautiful, person, with next to nothing of her own, had nonetheless given me such a beautiful gift – just her care.

touched ME with affection

Last weekend was one of child-sized hugs, which were beautiful. There was the Niece-shaped full-body-wrap, with her legs squeezing tight around my waist, her arms clinging around my neck and her head nuzzled into the side of my face, with every bit of her pressed into me. There was the Bear hug, which involved sitting and holding and foreheads pressed together, and deep stares into one anothers’ eyes from an inch away. There was the Pickle hug, which is more of a swift, crouched over, light affair as she continues her day. There were no Neff hugs because Neff is at that grumpy stage of Not Wanting, and will even try to duck (with a glinty-eyed scowl) any kisses blown in his direction.

I also had big hugs from the friend I went to visit. Then we had sunshine and long talks, and the wonderful ease of time which passes when you both ‘get’ it, because situations in your lives are so very similar, and you end up with an instant empathy.

On a long drive, I was reminded of times as a child, when mum would sit in the passenger seat with both arms jammed around behind her, offering we-who-were-sad-in-the-back-seat the chance to hold a hand and feel the gentle, soothing repetitive stroking of her thumbs, and feel peace begin to be restored in our woeful selves.

I’ve had lots of hugs from mum and WonderAunty, because this week has been particularly-especially tough with regard to paperwork and Ending Things, and trying to tick all the boxes (at the expense of an appeal, because the manner of writing had left things too open to interpretation and no boxes were tickable (which they SO very need to be)). Their hugs are warm and familiar and feel instinctively right, for they have been part of my world since birth, and are integral to my understanding of hugs and loving contact.

Vince gave me some wonderful, outstanding cuddles and looking after, when I had a huge Abyssal evening after hearing the bad news about not meeting the divorce criteria, and I ended up behaving in some spectacularly banal self-destructive ways (not least of which was booze). He told me off and then looked after me most beautifully, and I really needed it.

Nose-MURRRRRRPs are a tradition between WonderAunty and I from before I knew what time was. I’m sure I’ve spoken about her MURRRPs before, but they are wonderful fingertip-to-nosetip moments where I forget everything and just smile, my heart filling with happiness because that’s what it always has done in response.

I had hugs from Gabriel too, and unshaven, giggly kisses on my shoulders as he tells me he looks like Jason Statham and Jenny’s eyes turn to fire and laughter and she chases him across the car-park. In spite of their homelessness and the increasing pressures on their situation, they still laugh, they still love, and they still have had the largeness of heart to take me into their community.

They still need funding, more urgently than ever, and PLEASE click the button below to donate or share the campaign.

HomeForJenny Button

The rest of my input has been made up through the written or spoken moments with my friends in the World Between the Wires. We’ve danced and hugged and kissed cheeks and tickled and put arms around one another, all in that safe. small, manageable way the internet affords, and which I plan to recreate IN STYLE, in person, when I visit.

I. Cannot. WAIT!



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44 thoughts on “Ten Things of Thankful 114 #10Thankful

  1. During this time in my life when I feel like I can’t find ‘thankful’ because my mind is all, “You’re stupid and worthless,” I still smile from deep within me at the beauty of your words and the depth of your love for those around you. You truly are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *wrapping you in HUGEBIGSQUEEZY hugs* Sandra. I know those voices. You are worthwhile because we all are. I find that acting with love to others or being useful means that i feel a bit less bad and hopeless. Lots of love to you xoxo


    • I WILL DO! I need to come to your patch at some point because I have people there who I love, and who I must hug In Real. It WILL HAPPEN! I just need to sell more writing and earn my way back lol 🙂

      And of COURSE you knew I was a toucher 😉 :p


  2. My family never did the hugs thing so I never did the hug thing until I realized I needed to be hugged — and realized how incredibly important they are. Incredibly. My son is a hugger and it’s hilarious because he’ll see a child hurt on the playground and he’ll run over and give them a hug — that’s regardless if he knows them or not and if it’s a boy or not. I hope he is always like that. Always. It is healing. I sometimes wish that my pshyciatrist would hire someone to just hand out hugs at his office. Hell, hire me. I’ll do it 🙂
    I wish you were swinging near my woods. I’d hug the hell out of you for real. Literally for real because duh…you’d be really really getting hugged by me in real life. I got my passport back and I look like a Mexican for some weird reason — so I shall be mailing you a package soon (it’s cheaper than sending it via Canadian)!!!
    PS. It’s a mandatory 1 year wait before you can file for divorce in Canada. You have to be “separated” for one year then…THEN you can file. It is so silly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your mandatory 1 year wait is ridiculous. I was so so upset because they just want to keep people trapped and sometimes if those people are trying to kill themselves to escape, it’s just not fair.

      I need to organise your parcel but I think it will be after Murica cos…well, really? cos I’m disorganised and all over the place and mostly quite incapable at the moment.

      If you were here and you hugged me, I would hug back for a long time. I love that Chunky’s a hugger, and that he’s obviously seen that nurture and the necessity for touch demonstrated compassionately and well, and has adopted it into his way of being, is AWESOME. You’re amazing.One day I WILL hug you for real.


  3. So glad Beki reached out to take your arm. Those of us in the helping aka giving professions touch and connect with others all day long, but you are so right that this is not the same as someone reaching out and touching us.
    The image of your mom’s outstretched arms , hands reaching to comfort you is so lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad she did too. It was only when it happened that I realised how much I needed it.

      Those memories of my mum arrived from nowhere and they were very powerful memories. I’m glad she was there for us.


  4. The oxytocin that is exchanged when skin meets skin for more than a one second hug is essential to emotional health I’m a huggy person. My husband is not. That causes disharmony around here not to mention snarkiness. Can’t wait to meet. I’m the meantime ((((((((((‘hugs))))))))

    Liked by 1 person

    And the image of Beki reaching out and touching you, beautiful. Just beautiful!
    The divorce will be final, the paperwork done, and you will be able to move on. IT WILL.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Ten Things of Thankful 113 #10Thankful | ladyleemanilasphotos

  7. I’m an incredibly tactile person and I crave physical touch, whether that is hugs or whatever, I NEED touch. This of course totally conflicts with the introvert that I am, so I find myself craving physical contact yet too intro to actively obtain that physical touch.

    I am lucky that I have a mini me to provide me with those boosting cuddles when I need them!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Awwh Corrine! *hugs* That’s lovely feedback to have, and so sweet of you to let me know how much you feel moved by my words. 🙂 and touch seems to be more powerful the more I think about it! I love it when a mystery becomes bigger and more wonderful the more you examine it.


  8. I know what you mean about touch being so powerful. I don’t think I am as comfortable with hugs as Id like to be though. It’s an autistic sort of tendency in me, but it has to be from someone close to me. I don’t instinctively do it, like I’d like. If it is someone I know and trust, I am all for it though. I love that feeling you described so well, when my nephew reaches up and I pick him up and hug him, his little legs and arms gripping me so tightly. I love hugging my niece and nephew goodnight. I love that feeling when you hug someone and they hold onto you, not seeming to want to let go and the hug goes on and on. I love holding hands too, even more. There is a peace to that sort of contact that I love so much.
    Sorry to hear about all those untickable boxes this week. Have a better weekend.
    And as someone who has had a lot of eye drops, not a lot of physical contact wants to be made with those who administer them, but it’s nothing personal/.
    Glad you had such enjoyable closeness with friends and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, no – from a professional viewpoint, the less contact the better – it’s already a reasonably invasive procedure, what with me holding eyelids and looming over people! I always try to do it with a smile and a huge dose of empathy.

      Thanks for the weekend wishes – back to work tomorrow so I have ONE GLORIOUS DAY of freedom, lol.

      Holding hands is beautiful – there’s sufficient relationship there to merit it, but it’s not ‘big deal’ body contact; just small and sweet and lovely.

      Full body kid hugs though…WOW! I love them.

      And you don’t ever have to feel awkward about how much or little body contact you prefer. I don’t think it’s autistic – just maybe part of who you are, and that’s SO okay – you should always get to choose how much contact you’re happy with, and it’s no-one else’s business what level that is, and no-one should think more or less of you for your own comfort levels.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My daughter and I do the hand thing in the car. Even if I’m driving and she’s the only one in the backseat. Just that moment of contact is enough sometimes.

    Lovely post. And extra lovely when you come to ‘Merica!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I never doubted you were a “touchy feely” dearest Lizzi. Not once 🙂
    Your trip will be amazing and wonderful and you will receive so many hugs you’ll have reinforcement to last through year’s end!


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