Don’t Touch

When I was pregnant (both times,) I very quickly tired of people coming up to touch my belly uninvited.  It was bad enough when my friends and family did this, but total strangers would do the same thing.  I worked in a public location and, since I’m a short person, I looked like a little cube walking around.  People would just come up to me and touch my belly and I had to fight an internal war to keep from going all Chuck Norris on them.  At one point, I even asked Brian to make me a cage of chicken wire to wear over my clothes to keep people away.  Well, a cage or a stun gun, but you know, stun guns are often frowned upon in public places.

Lately a very good friend of mine has been going through a rough time.  Everyone is asking her how she is doing, what she needs, and sending ” {{{hugs}}}!”  People will come up to her in her office or on the street and just lay themselves on her.  She has even mentioned that one person said, “How are you?” to which she answered, “Okay.”  He then said, “No really, how are you?”  “I’m okay.”  “NO REALLY, how are you in here?” and pointed to her heart. By that point, her heart was feeling, “Fuck OFF!”

This past year has been incredibly difficult for me, but the last few months have been particularly excruciating.  I won’t get into the hows or whys, but I will say that some folks have done some awful things to me and I have done some equally awful things and, at this point, I’m in a place that’s not full of unicorns shitting rainbows along the golden brick road.  People are constantly calling and texting and wondering what is going on and why I’ve been so distant and telling me all kinds of unhelpful things like, “Come to a yoga class,” “let go of their negativity,” “just put a period and move on,” or “what you need is to get away” amongst countless others.

I think my friend and I both need a chicken wire cage.

I can’t speak for her, but I can and will speak for me and say that I know that people are concerned and are motivated by love and a desire to help.  I get that.  I understand that their intentions are pure and good.  I also understand that their actions are not particularly helpful.  Asking questions like, “how was therapy,” or “how are you” are absolutely meant to be harmless and are voiced from a place of compassion and concern, but what it feels like to be on the other side of those questions is this: I’m going to strip you naked in Times Square, rub your skin all over with sandpaper or a cheese grater, and then throw salt water at you.  The unsolicited advice that almost immediately follows feels like, “You’re too stupid to know what to do, I know better (even though I have never ever experienced what you’re going through,) so listen to me because my life is perfect.”

When dealing with emotions as strong as grief, loss, depression, confusion, heartache, betrayal, loneliness, longing, hopelessness, worry, and doubt, I am already feeling so very exposed and so very raw.  To be randomly touched, hugged, or questioned feels jarring to the open, sensitive nerve endings of my soul.  Not only that, but I don’t always have the answers to the questions that are asked of me.  How am I?  Ummmm.  I’m  here.  I don’t know how I am.  What can I do to help?  I have no clue.  As far as the uninvited hugs, I often avoid them not because I don’t want or need comfort, but because I know that I have spent hours trying to get myself together and out in public and one touch or “awwwwwww, you poor thing,” will either result in me breaking down into a sobbing pile of goo, or will cause me to lash out and take no prisoners as I go postal.  And hearing about how I should handle the loss of my husband or the fall out from my brief and very beautiful (until it wasn’t)  love affair makes me want to dig a very deep hole with no clear understanding if I’m digging it for me or for the person who is talking to me.

Maybe we need chicken wire cages for our heads and our hearts, too.

Again, I want to be VERY clear: I know that these comments and questions and offers come from a place of pure love and a strong sense of compassion and the lovely part of humanity that desperately wants to help.  And for that, I am grateful.  I’m grateful that I have friends and family and even some strangers who care so much about me.  Please don’t misunderstand me on that point.  All I am saying is that when I’ve already been turned inside out and put in a cage for public display, please don’t poke me. I will tell you what I want you to know when I want you to know it.  I will come out of my shell when I’m ready.  I will open up when I feel safe and not so exposed.  Don’t avoid me, but also please don’t try to “touch my belly,” as it were.  It’s mine.  I’m protective of it because it’s the very core of who I am at this time.

Remember, the best things come from the inside out.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sylvia
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 13:04:00

    Shanti…

    Reply

  2. Becky
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 15:06:45

    There is nothing I can say, nor would I even try, but what I can do is sit with you, and offer whatever you need, whenever you need it. Until then my heart and thoughts are with you, respectfully giving you the space I know that you need. I love you. In the midst of my own mess, I love you.

    Reply

  3. sigh17
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 15:46:47

    I have nothing to say but, I love you and respect you and your privacy. Sometime let’s have lunch or whatever when ever YOU feel like it. Until then peace and understanding. Your Friend.

    Reply

  4. micomommie
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 22:46:38

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’m glad to hear from you even if it’s to say “let me be (me.)” I look to you from afar and your strength guides me. I admire your ability to set boundaries. You are beautiful!

    Reply

  5. Alouette
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 19:08:50

    your words are music, pure music….

    Reply

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