I've been coming to learn, or more accurately re-learn, a few things about myself lately. Recently, I've been feeling pretty desperate for connection with other men. Granted, I've been talking and reaching out more than normal. I've even told a number of my friends about me, just in case they weren't following this blog. The desperation still wasn't being alleviated. There's a few simple facts that seem to contribute to this.
First off, my primary love language is touch (If you are unfamiliar with what a 'love language' is, see The 5 Love Languages site, it's also a book). Because of that, my primary way of feeling and expressing love toward other people is through touch, and this very much focused around men, with very few exceptions for women, most of whom are in my family. Most of the time, the expression has very little to do with lust or sexual desire. Sometimes it's a simple expression that I like the person or value them as a friend. Nothing more and nothing less.
This gets obviously frustrated by some aspects of American culture. In my perception, we're not a very touchy-feely sort of people, at least out in public. The same seems to be true when I visit church. In my home ward (by home I mean parent's ward), the people are very good at shaking hands. The last singles ward I was in, and this current ward don't seem to be very good at that, and I'm far too shy to even initiate that kind of contact.
Anyways, I was starting to feel desperate for some kind of physical contact with a man. I can look back now and see how crazy I was, because I have a whole group of friends that are willing to give appropriate, safe, and bonding touch with me. I told myself all sorts of lies to keep myself from asking them. It led me to seeking the safe, appropriate sort of touch in a very dangerous environment.
As an interesting aside, I notice a pattern that emerges when I feel like my touch need isn't getting met. I start to get the crazy notion that people will start spontaneously offering the kind of touch that I need or want. I start to drop into a childlike state, where I expect the people around me to know what my needs are. I basically tend to regress. When my need isn't met (which happens very often because I'm not asking for help to get them met), I start to slip into a state of defensive detachment. I get angry, and I feel lonely. In an attempt to escape the pain of not having the need met, I seek out 'numbing agents' of sorts. I turn to video games generally. The sort of lull and trance they put me in provides a false sense of peace and comfort, yet always lead me to a sense of emptiness and loneliness. When that isn't enough, I turn to stronger 'numbing agents': masturbation and pornography. Like video games, they leave with a more profound feeling of emptiness and numbness. In this state of numbness, I'm even less likely to ask for what I need. It's a vicious downward spiral.
At my support group this week, I managed to touch both the pain and the feeling of emptiness and detachment. It's amazing how familiar both of them feel. I'm often not even conscious of it. The detachment feels warm, familiar, old, and oddly peaceful. Yet it also feels like I'm all alone in a dark room with no one else there. The room is empty and vast.
As I discussed this at my support group, I realized that detachment and numbness is a choice I make. It's a choice that leads me down a road that ends up with me curled up in a ball trying to shut everything else out. It leads me to somewhere dark, lonely, yet safe. As I talked, I also realized there were other paths. There are other choices. There are many different people to ask for help from. All of the roads were covered in fog. I couldn't determine their outcome. The path to numbness, however, was quite clear. I know where it would lead me. I've taken it so many times, that the outcome is sure.
That aside, at support group I also recalled the last time I felt like I wanted some touch, specifically, I wanted to be held. It was when I was having a talk with my dad about this blog post. Forgive me other blog readers, but I'd like to address my dad personally. Feel free to read as well!
Dad, I think you may remember the last time we got together and chatted about a blog post I had made, one about some past shameful lies I'd been believing for years. Wow, this is hard, tears are already in my eyes. I remember as we talked that I one point, I simply wanted you to reach out your arms and cradle me, and comfort me. When I realized that, I almost immediately started to belittle/demean/talk down to myself about it. 'Why would an adult want to be held? I should be independent. I shouldn't need this. I shouldn't want this.' Despite what I said, the desire was still there. The pain was still there. I wanted to connect. I wanted to connect like a child would connect with his father. I wanted to be held by you. Yet, like a child, I found myself powerless to ask for what I wanted. I found myself incapable of expressing the words. Maybe because I was starting to feel, live, and act from a very young state, perhaps before I could even talk. I've always wondered why I've struggled to connect with you. I know I've been defensively detached from both you and Mom. I'm starting to wonder if the problem and solution lie somewhere in the desire to be held by you, dad. I somehow want to go back to where the defensive detachment started, attach, instead of detaching, and start unraveling years of me detaching myself from you. Honestly, I feel afraid to ask for what I want. I honestly don't know how you would take it, or even if you know how to hold me. I don't even know how long it would take, or even if it would take more than one time of it happening. There are many, many years of detachment. Many years of me isolating myself from you. I still think we can bridge the gap and heal this. Honestly, the path is laden with fog. All I know for now is there is a desire for me to be held by you.
Thank you for indulging me readers. I feel nearly overcome inside with the sadness and the pain. When I was a child, I didn't know what I needed. I obviously felt a need to be safe, so I started to withdraw from my parents. I honestly have no idea where it started. All I know is that it worked at the time, and now, it isn't working as an adult. To be withdrawn and detached from the people around me, means I can continue to be safe, but also broken, hurt, lonely, and ultimately, empty. It also means that I defend myself from others attempts to truly love me. It also extends to and disrupts my relationship with God.
The future paths are laden with fog. I could continue to take the one familiar path, that leads me to loneliness. I think it's time to start taking one of the fog laden ones and push through to see what's on the other side of the fog.
Oh, and a personal request. If you know me, in person, I would definitely appreciate more hugs! However that looks for you.
Thank you for reading.