Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Human Touch, Part 2

Yesterday's blog post (Human Touch, Part's a quick read) was initially written to be a stand alone piece.  A thought which grew out of an acknowledgement that I was in need, and want, of human touch.  Being single, and childless, means that at times I go for long stretches without human contact.  That is...unless I ask for it.

Yesterday I happened on this article.  It is from a website I really like - The Good Men Project.  Please ignore the title of the article, which I assume was meant to grab attention, and read it now!!!  (click's a longer read, but well worth it).  Plus, the rest of this won't make any sense if you don't.

Holy crap!  I sit hear thinking I have it rough, but it really never sank in before...the untenable position in which men find themselves in our society.  At a young age many boys are told to be tough, that cuddling with mom makes them "soft", that hugging their friends implies they might be homosexual (as if that were a bad thing), that expressing care for others could only imply a sexual advance or harassment.  This is so frightening to me.  Because those messages basically eliminate all human contact other than sex.

Think about it.  I, as a woman, can ask a friend (male or female) for a hug anytime I want.  True it might be difficult for me to be vulnerable in that way, but it is within the realm of "acceptable".  I can cry on a friend's shoulder, or cuddle with my nephews, or walk down the street arm in arm with my sister.  I have access to human contact and I am not ridiculed or mocked or questioned about my ulterior motives.

But how many of you would welcome that same request from a male friend without thinking twice?  I know I have been guilty of keeping space between me and a male friend for fear of sending the wrong message.  But shit, how about keeping it simple...just that we are all human and in need of care and connection?  I think it is imperative that we examine the message we send to young boys about human touch and connection.  Men deserve it as much as women do.  And we all need it.  The isolation the alternative creates makes me really sad.

I am optimistic, however, that there is a growing awareness that is creating a slow, but conscious shift.  And for the record, any friend of mine that wants a hug need only ask :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Human Touch, Part 1

In my field of massage therapy we often talk about the importance of human touch.  There are lots of benefits to massage...pain relief, stress reduction, improved movement, and much, much more.  For certain populations, we highlight the benefit of the touch itself.  For senior citizens, many of whom are widowed, the touch they receieve in a massage session is the only time they are touched and we all know how beneficial it is to a person's well-being.  There has been research which proves premature babies develop healthier and more quickly if they are held each day, as opposed to being left alone in the incubator.

But what about the other, less obvious, populations who are also in need of touch?  Single people?  People, like me, who are "in between" relationships and don't have children.  I touch people all day, but sometimes I go days without human touch, except for that which I give to others in my work as a massage therapist.  What about those in relationships, who are going though a difficult time with their spouse and haven't had a hug in days or weeks or months?

I think we often underestimate the power of touch and sometimes the smallest gesture can make a world of difference to another person.