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#432921 - 04/29/13 08:47 PM comforting or confining?
traveler Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3204
Loc: back in the USA
i used to be hypersensitive to being touched by anyone. i couldn't stand it - especially if it was a surprise or didn't see it coming like if someone came up behind me and put a hand on my shoulder. i would freak out inside, and though i often startled or flinched quite visibly, i was able to hide the emotional disturbance it caused. this was especially upsetting to my wife, though at first i was more tolerant with her than anyone else. and my kids never bothered me at all. some people saw me as a bit stand-offish and accepted it but others though i was cold and distant.

when the memories started returning it got even worse. i couldn't even stand to be touched by my wife. that was terrible for both of us. it brought what little shreds of intimacy we still had to a scrreeching halt (atrocious mixed metaphor - but you know what i mean!) at the same time, i was longing for and craving good and safe physical contact. big conflict!

under my/our T's care, we went through exercises to allow me to accept safe touch and her to become re-aquainted with my needs as they were affected by my issues. we got to the place where the skin-to-skin contact or the pressure of her arms around my neck or chest or just her hand on my arm or leg was very comforting and reassuring and i not only tolerated it - but sought it out.

now, i love hugs - but sometimes there is a point where i start to become anxious. if it goes on too long, i start to become uncomfortable, fidgity and feel like i need to escape. i feel like i am being confined and restricted and need to regain control or independence or distance. once i pull away, i soon feel OK again - but it is confusing. and i know i am sending very mixed messages.

i don't know if i am having a relapse or if this is just another stage or a response to current circumstances or what.

Lee
_________________________
We are often troubled, but not crushed;
sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;
there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend;
and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.
- Paul, II Cor 4:8-9

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#433110 - 05/01/13 12:10 AM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 271
Loc: NY
Hey, Traveler.

My first thought reading your post was a memory. When I was about 8, I remember going to school one day and finding that each time someone touched me I had an uncontrollable urge to scratch myself. When I came home I told my mother about it. She chalked it up to another one of my neuroses and gave me a drink. Yes, I mean alcohol.

This did not turn me into an alcoholic. I don't remember having this specific experience again. But the sensations, thoughts and memories I am having now as I see my own kids grow are overwhelming compared to that one day. I feel like there is a child inside of me that is screaming for understanding. He will not take a drink to get rid of the anxiety because there is too much at stake in finding out what it is actually about. I hunger to understand finally and crave hope for peace.

The part about the hugs seems natural, given what you went through. I'm wondering if it's not so much the hug itself as what might be next, what might evolve, what might be opened for you. Although touching is about skin, it can also be something meaningful. But the meaning may be hard to fathom quickly enough given the situation. Relaxing in a hug may not be possible until the deeper meanings emerge. This is because the physical sensations of emotion and the possible meanings that they signify are the kind of thing that can be easily dismissed or minimized.

I hope you can make time and give energy to what might be a valuable process of discovery.

Focused
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#433140 - 05/01/13 09:17 AM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1867
Loc: durham, north england
Well lee, as you know physical affection isn't something I find fun at all. One reaction I've noticed in myself is a desire to return to what I've been doing previously even if it was painful, simply because further is scary.

I've got to a point now where physical affection, say giving someone a hug, is something I can do, but prefer not to, and if I do it it is a major deal for me, I find myself utterly confused by it, ---- God, it makes me feel like a teenager! laugh.

I've noticed though that among adults, it's something far more casual, something almost thoughtless, and I have no idea what that state is like.

I might be extrapolating too much from myself to you, but I wonder if your getting to the point of moving from the one to the other, and something in you is rebelling.

Equally, it could be an old abuse memory, being confined physically for instance during abuse I hate the idea of someone grabbing my hand and moving it to their own body for this reason, and have often found myself uncomfortable with say demonstration of vocal technique purely because of the abuse memories.

I don't particularly have a solution to this, especially not regards your wife being as I have nobody I'm in that relation to, but your certainly not the only person who has this sort of thing.
I remember for instance an occasion when a female friend, --- -someone who others said was interested in me turned up with wet hair and asked me for a towel. I had the impulse not only to bring the towel, but to dry her hair myself.

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#433150 - 05/01/13 12:37 PM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
DavoSwim Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 301
Loc: Iowa, USA
Lee,
I can relate so well to your experience. I cannot stand to be touched, especially if I'm caught off guard. Just this week, there have been about three times when I've been talking with someone, and they reached out and touched my shoulder or back. I just freak out when that happens. In fact, one person apologized and didn't mean to make me jump like that. I'm sure it's related to CSA, and the memories of being first touched, and then later held down and restrained while being abused. I haven't brought it up with my T yet. I don't know if I will. It seems awkward to bring up, and also there is more stuff I need to deal with first. Thanks for your story. It will help give me some perspective on all this.
DavO

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#433155 - 05/01/13 01:09 PM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1867
Loc: durham, north england
God davo, being talked to and having someone do that is something I hate! particularly because people seem to think as a visually impared person I have no rights to personal space at all and I have been known to turn round in the street when some stranger attempts to touch me and say "get your f**king hands off me!"

Often I've wished to carry a taser, since that's what it always feels like to me.

I suppose this is why for myself physical affection always becomes a big deal on the occasions when it happens, it's just not something I can take casually at all.

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#433162 - 05/01/13 01:52 PM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
DavoSwim Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 301
Loc: Iowa, USA
DE.
I'm glad someone else can relate. I totally get physical affection becoming a big deal when it happens. It takes lot of energy to focus on getting and giving affection.

DavO

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#433281 - 05/02/13 11:01 AM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 271
Loc: NY
Hey, Traveler, DE and DavO.

What's been particularly troubling to me is not being aware of what I am asking for, physically. This has been getting better, but with my children it has been a learning process. What I am referring to is what might be called a cue for physical closeness.


***TRIGGER WARNING***

What happened between my mother and I was a confusing fusion in which she could tilt her head and I knew it was a moment that she need physical closeness from me. This was the subtle workings of covert incest. Only recently have I been able to recognize it when it's happening or is threatening to happen. It can happen with my mother or with others in moments of intimacy.

When my children were two years old, their Mom and I separated. I stayed at the home they had come to know, doing all the parenting that I needed to do on my own when they were with me. One day I found myself trying to reach out to my kids as if to tell them everything would be all right, come to Daddy, I'll give you a hug.

What I wasn't completely aware of was how needy of affection and connection they were at that moment. My daughter came to me, buried her face in my neck and wouldn't let go. What happened next is the hard part.

My mother would do the same to me. She would go for my neck when I wasn't looking, lock on until I gave in. When my daughter did this one part of me thought I would be okay. I was not. I started telling her to let go, but she wouldn't. She buried deeper. I started to scream inside. A low, murderous rage that wouldn't be subdued. I asked my daughter several times to let go, ordering her as Daddy to do so. She wouldn't.

The only thing I could do was let the rage come. It came and I lifted her up in the air with all the hate and rage from years of impotent submission. I held her above me and screamed for justice with my groan of righteousness. I knew it was wrong but at that moment I had no recourse to my horror-filled life. I safely put her down on the couch and went over to the corner of the room and cried.

As I looked at my daughter, I knew she was dissociating. Her eyes glazed and she seemed like a frozen pillow. I told her I was sorry. She heard that I knew I had done something wrong. But inside I knew she now had a memory of something traumatic.

She and I both told her mother during a dinner we had together. She in the words of two-year old, me in my recovering cower bravely speaking of what I couldn't control.

Since that day I have done a lot of work, including talking to my own mother. I still feel tingling in my neck and realize how hard it is to be in my body. My daughter can now freely bury her head in my neck and I'm okay. I feel more attuned to her needs, but it still feels incomplete.

I am also more aware of the cues between myself and others on physical closeness. This was something that for years I considered more of trance-dance. Now I am committed to taking the trance out of it. I don't know exactly what that means, except that when I am present without the burning feelings inside or the foggy ones outside, I know that I am home in a way that I've missed for a long, long time.

Focused
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#433283 - 05/02/13 11:27 AM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1867
Loc: durham, north england
Hi focused.

That is quite a story, and it's amazing the progress you've made. I can't say I've experienced anything comparable, (I don't have nor want children for a start), however I did have one experience with physical affection recently that was good.

one of the key problems I've had with physical affection, particularly giving it, is that I can't avoid thinking that everyone else feels the same way about it I do, since the only standard I have for comparison is myself.

I have had horrific nightmares in which I am sitting talking to a girl, then am suddenly being accused of s/xual abuse, and I know exactly why this is, since that was all part of the abuse I myself experienced, ---- being told "get your hands of mee" by a girl even as she forceably made me fondle her.

Therefore if I ever considder! giving someone a hug I feel dirty, even if I just touch a person's hand (especially a girl), hand I feel as if I'm committing a crime, that is why on the rare occasions I've given a friend a hug it's been a big deal.

Yet recently I had a revelation. I was finishing a stage production of the light opera Iolanthe. One of the girls in the cast, a friend of mine was experiencing incredible nerves, since she had her parents ariving, it was the first thing of that sort she'd ever done, and she couldnt get the music right, ---- particularly since she had one of the most emotionally chaged peaces in the production.

Since I learn my music by ear, and sicne I know the show backwards, I went through her music with her, going over her part so that she felt more conflident with it. I then found myself quite naturally giving her a hug and having her hang on to me for the space of about five minutes, not wanting to let go.

i suddenly realized that for her! the physically affection was a source of comfort, something she needed, not something wrong in the least. This is why I often think if I had a partner who I had an emotional connection with, like my genophobia this is something I could! deal with.

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#433386 - 05/03/13 11:22 AM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 271
Loc: NY
DE:

Nice to hear of your experience. It reminds me of one when I was coaching an actress and at one point her whole body needed to release all the pent up tension. My presence enabled her to do that.

I wonder if what we are talking about here could also be described as trust. Whatever we have that allows someone to trust us is I think a precious gift. For me I am often scared to share it, but it also feels like the good side of being a man.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#433401 - 05/03/13 01:29 PM Re: comforting or confining? [Re: traveler]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1867
Loc: durham, north england
I'm not sure focus, though for me it's equally a question of trusting others.

The only girl who I am absolutely happy getting a hug from in normal circumstances is a russian friend of mine. She's got a lot of traditionally masculine characteristics (indeed we joke that she's my brother and I her sister since that's what we're both more comfortable with).

With her, either giving or recieving a hug is natural. Wetherh this is because (in typical style), she said to me "I like you! but not in that way" quite openly in my first year of university, or whether it's simply that I know if she was ever in a situation she was not comfortable with someone would end up with injuries I'm not sure, possibly at least for me a bit of both.

Again, this is where I think having a partner of some sort would really help, not because I have any weerd thing about "love healing everything" or whatever, simply that then I could! experience what touch is when it works.

For me equally, there is also the problem that as a visually impared person i literally have no physical space, ---- or at least that is what people think. If I'm getting off a strain someone will attempt to man handle me, whether I wish them to or not, and frequently when talking to someone people (of both genders), will attempt to touch my hand, arm or even shoulder. I really! hate that, it makes me feel like an object, since it's entirely impersonal and has bugger all to do with me and everything todo with stupid cultural sterriotypes.

I do confess I don't take that very well.

The really! ironic thing is that with none humans I'm incredibly! physical. if I'm introduced to a dog or a cat, I'm the person who will kneel down on the floor and have them climb all over me, and what's really odd is animals seem to pick this up.

With my own dog Reever, I'm incredibly physical, indeed she frequently lies on my feet when I'm reading, or sits in front of me and puts a paw on my knee when she wants to get up on the settae.

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