The Village Needs to Get in Touch (a #1000Speak post)

I know you’ve been dying to hear about my Murica trip, and what better place to begin than here, with #1000Speak, and this month’s topic of LOVE? For it was love which inspired the trip and started it going; love which sustained it and kept me going; and love which was the central theme of the whole thing. I use the term ‘hardwired heart’ to express that although everything had occurred in the World Between the Wires (until then), the love is real and true and vibrant. And it really is.

It’s also a bit touchy-feely, and that’s what I’m writing about today.

Hardwired Heart

So here’s the thing – being English, I have a cultural repuation to uphold of being stand-offish and slightly austere in manner. Sterotypically we’re a prim and proper people, more given to pats on the head, shakes of the hand, or tiny-hug-air-kisses (when pressed (and only if female)) than any of the full-body-contact that the more excitable nations go in for.

As such, I was initially concerned that I was going to undergo some kind of culture-induced freeze-up when I arrived, and be utterly incapable of making physical contact without feeling vastly uncomfortable and out of my depth. [It’s worth noting at this stage that there are a very small number of people in my life with whom I’m comfortable being physical; all but two are my family, and of those two, one is more crash-test-dummy/scrum-buddy (we play netball together – a British non-contact sport – where usually one of us ends up bruised or bleeding and yelled at by the ref) than anything…yaknow…mushy.]

Thing is, though, that secretly, deep down, I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who hugs – not just the little silly air-hugs, but real, PROPER hugs – and who is completely comfortable (when invited) with that level of closeness. I just didn’t know whether I had it in me, and it really bothered me in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the trip. I didn’t want to let my friends down by being a frigid disappointment if they were huggers and I was…well…not.

I was so lucky. SO lucky. Because the first person on my trip IS a hugger. She yelled with excitement, flung herself across the airport at me, and flew into my arms, burying her face in my neck. In the face of such incredible exuberance and the immediate dose of the aforementioned full-body-contact (excitable, see?), my inner-hugger was whisked from her little English-imposed isolation bubble, and freed, embraced the moment, the experience, and the friend.

And that was that. I was unlocked. I was a hugger from then on.

Not only a hugger, either! Where it was fitting and appropriate, there was further contact, each within the parameters of the different friendships I had built. Some of my favourite moments, and most memorable moments of the entire trip were the ones where I was in contact with another person, and whilst I’m happy to share my experience of some of those moments, I won’t say to which people they belong, because I kind of want to keep them a bit obfuscated, out of chronological order and cherishable through being just between me and each of them.

❤ That big first hug which nearly sent us both sprawling on the floor. Walking and talking and stumbling in the dark because we were so close together that any step out of unison tripped us, but laughing and giggling because it was so delightful to be *here* and be together and know that we are each as completely the self we’ve shown to each other as we hoped. I love you.

❤ Even bleary-minded, it was lovely to hold you and continue our conversation whilst stroking your hair and your arm. You seemed so tiny and fragile, and yet completely comfortable with me, and you’ve told me since that not all people are like that, but we SO are…truly. Holding you close and massaging the knots in your back and knowing I was helping, because I could feel them gradually release. Hanging onto you for dear life as I panicked and cried for upcoming loss, and how you knew, and you comforted me. I love you.

❤ Not expecting (either of us) to be so comfortable with the other; stroking arms, being wrapped around; small moments of holding or closeness. Times in the dark, under the stars, talking and snuggling in for warmth. Traveling, both crowded over one phone to see, legs propped up on the rail and touching because of the proximity of the entire journey. Sleeping gently, tangled, where we’d run out of words and out of energy, still holding hands. I love you.

❤ Your excitement to see me, and a big hug, which you waited in line for. Getting to snuggle in before bedtime and join in with the ritual. Putting my arm around you as we walked, and trying to impart worldly wisdom, and probably failing horribly but trying anyway. You holding my hand all the way on the car trip to swap me to the next person, even when you fell asleep. I love you.

❤ A few, HUGE hugs, and lots of twinkly grins. The assurance of knowing that you felt comfortable in my presence and that I didn’t drain you. And the knowing that to me, you felt like normality – like I belonged. Laughter in the presence of shared pain, binding us with memories beneath our skin. Your hug holding me up when a storm of emotion broke me into a thousand pieces, and your hand holding mine, anchoring me from being swept away entirely by its waves. I love you.

❤ Getting to help sing you to sleep, because you asked for me to be there, and joining in with such a treasured, close moment. Hiding under the blanket with you as you told me about your favourite Youtube channel and had your drink before bedtime. You lifting my top to show off my abs to your friend, and your giggles when I picked you up and weight-lifted you. Hugging you after we played at the park together, and your smile, and you telling me you loved me. I love you.

❤ Standing on your toes, being held close, and hearing your instructions whirl incomprehensibly through my brain as you tried to guide my hips with yours so that we didn’t just fall down; me laughably hopeless, and you just laughing and carrying on, spinning me into bravery I didn’t think I had until you showed me it was there. I love you.

❤ How you fit perfectly next to me, arms encircled, and how we could walk together, maybe to anywhere. Napping and being snuggled close, having fallen asleep talking, again. How you didn’t know until then, but I did, that you’d feel like home. Stroking your arm and holding your hand at every opportunity, and dancing together because it was fun and silly and nice to do. Skyping our third, binding the three of us in close moments the world will never see, but which we will always remember. Being snuggled next to you in the dark under the night skies, as the water faintly echoed the music we were playing on your phone, and talking for hours, just holding one another close and sharing deep thoughts and shallow ones. Holding your face when your world turned to storms, and hanging onto you until your head was above the water again…and you holding my face when my world turned to storms, wiping my tears with your fingers, telling me to smile for you, and kissing me goodbye. I love you.

❤ Small contacts, but a few good hugs, and the memory of your eyes widening with surprise and delight as we came in and woke you to let you know I was here. The two of us larking on the playground and showing off to one another, and then jumping together on your trampoline, because it was fun and we could. And knowing that I would miss you like crazy, and you telling me you’d miss me, too. I love you.

❤ A MASSIVE hug hello, and then silliness later, with a backdrop of Instagram and larking around. You wrapping me up in an urgent hug as part of my world fell apart with grief, and you steadying me and guiding me out. How you held me until I could breathe properly again, and how you let me talk. And how very much I needed you right then, and that it almost made the heartbreak of the next, worst moment fade by surpassing it. I love you.

❤ Jammed together in the big bed, laughing, and you suddenly draping your legs over mine, for warmth, and that just being a *thing* as we all talked. I love you.

❤ Holding your hands as we jumped and posed for photographs, catching our toes against each other in the hot sun. Dancing and twirling with you under the fairy lights, and doing martial arts kicks, for giggles. You climbing onto the bed and bombarding me with toys, and us playing til everyone was awake. Hugging you in the restaurant when you told me you’d miss me, because I knew I would miss you too, so much. I love you.

*sigh*

So many experiences, so many people, and so many more examples I could have shared where the thing which made the difference to the encounter was touch. Wanted, warm, responsive touch. Close moments between close people, cementing relationships with skin-to-skin and oxytocin (that powerful bonding hormone we can’t manufacture nor get any other way than being in touch with another person, who we like).

And it’s an amazing thing, that oxytocin, and perhaps why touch is so very important in human relationships. It has been demonstrated to deepen trust between people, and reduce anxiety. It increases nurturing behaviour and strengthens our ability to empathise. It can calm our heart-rate and according to co-sleeping research, helps children to develop as their body mirrors and responds to its mother’s. It is often called upon when babies are born prematurely, and skin-to-skin holding is recommended to help the baby grow stronger. Its most well-known as the hormone which increases connection and bonding between lovers, and mothers and their children but perhaps that is because of the naturally higher incidence of contact in these circumstances. It is certainly and most definitely pro-social, though, and occurs in relationships where trust and close contact are involved.

And I can vouch for the sheer delight of repeated hits of it. Truly. Extremely. SO good.

So how about that Village?

It’s not going to be always and everywhere appropriate to introduce an element of physical contact, but even in small ways, where it is appropriate and it does fit – don’t shy from it. We’re social creatures, and we need to know the warmth of human touch because without it our brains just don’t do so well. Anxiety and fear and mistrust can all be mitigated by oxytocin, and my goodness, couldn’t we all use less of those!

Where the Village is broken, this might be something that could fix it. And where it ain’t broke, it can only make it stronger.

So get out there, and get in touch.

The Village needs to Get in Touch

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on LOVE, as well as the broader topic of compassion.

Write a post relevant to this month’s focus – LOVE – and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.

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72 thoughts on “The Village Needs to Get in Touch (a #1000Speak post)

  1. Pingback: Ten Things of Thankful 133 (Looking back) #10Thankful | Considerings

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  4. I LOVE that you had such a wonderful trip and a chance to connect in real life with REAL HUGS with so many people. I enjoyed seeing some of it via Facebook and now reading this really makes me smile.

    As another reticent hugger I understand (my mother is British). I love when I hit a comfort zone with a friend that hugging, or touch is all good. Important, connecting, and good. So well said here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I still dream about some of those hugs, they were that good! I’m glad it made you smile to read, and that you caught some of the trip on Facebook. I ADORE how many people got joy from seeing these catalyst moments where different pieces of the Blogosphere met together in the same space, sometimes for the first time. It was incredible.

      And YES to that comfort zone, and connecting, hugging and that extra layer of closeness 🙂 Thank you for liking how I put it 🙂

      Like

  5. So much love, so much magic, so much that made me smile and warmed my heart to read. I wish I had been able to make it work to share a hug and smile and laugh and warmth with you too, but there will be a next time I’m sure. I love that you love hugs now. There’s is nothing more precious to me than reliving a hug, the kind that you take with you forever and can actually feel once more just when you need it. Hugs to you fishy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *HUGE HUGS* I’m sad we couldn’t make it work but there WILL be another chance, and we WILL meet, in future.

      I really do love hugs now, and I’m so completely thrilled to pieces about it! And yes. SO much magic. So much love 🙂

      Like

  6. I read this last night (from phone, which explains why I’m just now commenting) and I was grinning so huge throughout. So much love and friendship and laughter written here. So many memories that warm me to my toes. Your visit was whirlwind of wonder and I shall never forget it. *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    • I figured you were on your phone, BW, cos you don’t get FB rainbows in your eyes without knowing what for 😉 And I’m so glad you like it, and I can picture you grinning 😀 (*now grinning too*) and THANK YOU for being so completely incredibly wonderful, and for being my completely awesome amazing BlogWife and NOW IN REAL! *HUGE grin* I love that. I love you. And I won’t ever ever forget it either. And here’s to next time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so happy that you had such a wonderful, magical time! You are so right about the importance of touch (even for those of us–Americans too!–who are less touchy-feely!). I went to visit my son who is away at college last weekend. He’s not the hugging type, but when he is happy to see me after a long absence he is more amenable. How I relished those hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh I’m so glad you got lots of hugs with him. It’s so important, and I suspect will be for him, too, as long as he can somehow save face by saying you’re embarrassing him or suffocating him or something 😉 And yes – I suppose there are Muricans who are less touchy-feely, as there are (evidently) English who very much ARE! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved watching your Murican hug-a-thon from afar. I’m glad everything turned out even better than you imagined.

    AND I hope I get to hug you next summer. I’ll be in Wales from 21 May – 18 June. Plus the Peak District and Berkshire afterward. We have plenty of time to work something out!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol we do if I’m not back in Murica by then, in which case I can catch you on one of your Stateside tours. But otherwise if I’m still here (*weep*) then YES DEFINITELY!

      I’m so astonished and delighted that my trip became such a Thing! I love that so many people were engaged and observing and joining in through the internet, even though I wasn’t able to meet everyone in person. I definitely feel that it was something which brought people together.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do love mt Village, but I really truly think that we all, globally (everyone) can be the Village for each other. We all need each other, as a species, I think. And thank you. I’m glad you like it so much 🙂

      Like

  9. Wow. Not even close to FRIST.

    I never would have pictured you any other way. You were a born hugger for sure. Just took a trip across the pond for you to figure it out. Beautiful post sweetie.

    Trying to get my #1000Speak on, not getting it. Will continue to try.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. And Cassidy nor I will never ever ever EVER forget every single hug and step and hand held and giggle and song…

    When I sit on my couch, I think of when I dropped full body on top of you. Remember that? It’s yet one of hundreds of ‘afterthoughts’ I get to enjoy over and over again in my thoughts… and in my heart.

    Loved everything we did…. the walking, the talking, the giggling, the singing and snuggling… I could go on and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *giggling again* YES I DO REMEMBER THAT! And I remember us doing ‘I leaf you’ by the dam, and smelling every single rose bush, and singing and singing, and walking and talking and walking and talking. So many precious moments with you, Kitty, and I loved them all. Thank you so so much for being as incredibly wonderful as you are. And Cassidy. And lovely Cade. And dear Derek fixing my annoying phone, with such patience and kindness. I love your family, Kitty. Truly.

      Like

    • Ohhhh that’s a lovely thing to say – thank you! 🙂 It was wonderful to meet you too – you’re so *sparklyshinyhappy* and you just glowed the entire time, with wonderousness. And I LOVED doing yoga with you! That was so cool 🙂 And I hear you’re for definite coming to the next SW meet up, so YAY!

      Like

  11. “Sleeping gently, tangled, where we’d run out of words and out of energy, still holding hands. I love you.” … This line made me cry… I’m not sure why it did…no wait… I am sure… I felt the love, I felt it, and it was beautiful, and it touched me so deeply I could have been tangled with you.

    A beautiful outpouring of love, Lizzi. Thanks so much for sharing… made my day 🙂 x #1000speak

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dear bean, I don’t know HOW I missed this before (I do – ineptness – and I can only apologise) but that line…one of my fondest memories of the trip, though there were so so many. I’m so glad you felt the love there, because it was OVERFLOWING and amazing and so, so profoundly affirming and enhancing and just…everything.

      I so want to meet you one day. I don’t know whether we’ll end up tangled or just being very English (or probably a bit giggly) but that would be so great…

      And THANK YOU. I’m so glad you enjoyed this, and coming back here and seeing your comment, has brought me back to that magical place and I love it. So…there’s that 🙂

      Like

  12. ^_^
    I’ve been feeling all out of sorts all day but reading your post just now gave me warm fuzzies.
    I’m a hugger. I’ve always been a hugger. A while back I did the Five Love Languages quiz and it said my primary love language is Physical Touch, which, yes, very much so.
    When my now ex husband withdrew all signs of affection because he didn’t think I was cleaning the house enough, I thought, ‘how can you say you love me and do this to me?’.
    Anyway, like you say up there, touch is so very important in human relationships. I have come to realise that whenever my children (or my wife) are next to me, I touch them, on the arm, the neck, the back, I need that contact, that touch.

    If we ever meet, you’ll find yourself hugged. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I now know I’m good with hugs, so it won’t be a problem! I think I probably need to take the love languages quiz again, because definitely one of mine is words, but one that I express to others is through gifts and I’m not sure whether that’s because of me, or because I’m trying to compensate for me 😉

      I’m sad your ex did that to you. I guess he knew you well enough to hurt you, and it’s always hard when love isn’t unconditional.

      I’m glad this post gave you warm fuzzies, and yeah – I understand that about the constant contact. I saw Niece and Neff tonight, and I think I was in contact with them for 95% of the time (mostly being sat on and rough-and-tumbled)

      Liked by 1 person

    • It so, SO was, Hotberg, and you are a true gentleman. I loved meeting you, and the ambiance of that bar has stayed a very strong memory, and one I think I’ll probably write more about 🙂 It really WAS brilliant 🙂 *hugs*

      Like

  13. Like you I’d always wanted to be a real hugger, Lizzi. Just fall out, no holds barred affection. I’d never really been the hugging type probably because of some deep-seated problem within myself. I was horribly bullied in school so I never really felt comfortable getting close to anyone. A few years ago I became friends with a family that lived close by ours. They are Italian like us. (Well, Mathair’s Irish, Dad’s where my brother and I get our Italian roots.) So we fit very well together. They are super affectionate and it caused me to open up and now I have a second family who I love dearly and I thoroughly hug everyone whose day I can make better. Mathair and I are so happy that you had such a beautiful experience in the States. Now, we gotta get you to come over to our neck of the woods. We got moonshine, hay rides and Celtic festivals here in the Smokey Mountains. Not to mention, I have a killer recipe for Vegan dark chocolate fudge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A long time ago, Mathair told me that you and I are very similar, and I confess I didn’t believe her, because I didn’t think that someone as smart and pretty and accomplished as you would have possibly had the same kind of challenges or have the same kinds of hang-ups, but the more you share of yourself, the more I see there are some very clear parallels, and I’m sad for the bad ways we have experiences in common. I was horribly bullied too, and very afraid of getting close to people for a long time. That’s why I only have four real friends here…and part of why Murica and having SO SO MANY AT ONCE was just mindblowing to me. *hugs* I’m sorry about the sad things, but SO glad you had the family nearby, and that they changed you.

      And YES PLEASE to visiting you. I love the sound of all of those things, and would dearly love to meet you and Mathair face to face, and if we didn’t hug because of awkwardness, we would at least and most definitely LAUGH together 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Lizzi. But of course, you must know that I think you are the coolest, smartest, prettiest, and most altruistic woman I have met in this crazy blogging community. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I think that’s why I’ve felt so connected to your writing and you as a person because of our shared experiences. Mathair and I would be honored and ridiculously happy for you to come visit. I see a lot of laughter in our visit together!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re very sweet, and I don’t think I can own any of those titles as ‘most’, but I love that you think of me in those terms.

          I guess we’ve both been through things which have shaped us for worse, and are now working on things which will shape us for better.

          SO good to connect through writing – the depth of understanding which can be achieved is just marvellous. And YES! I would so love to come and visit you – we would laugh and laugh and laugh 🙂 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve gone all soft in the middle with vision blurred by something wet in my eyes. I want to do it again until you’re seeing stars. Because it’s my favorite, and I’m so glad I got to share it with you, MY star.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lizzi, this might just be the most beautiful, heartwarming thing I’ve ever read. You wrote it in such a way that I can actually feel the love. What a blessing you experienced over here, huh? Thank you sharing this uplifting post. I will go to sleep now, happier for having read it.

    ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that is a HUGE, huge compliment – thank you Diana. I love that you’re going to sleep happier for it, and that it warmed your heart. I smiled the whole time I was writing it…except when I sighed, because I miss them all so much…

      Like

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