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Thursday, September 26, 2013


 I used to feel self-righteous about the level that my culture doesn't want to touch each other - almost to the point of "forcing" or "training" people to allow me to touch them and to invite being touched. I wrote a bit about that on my other more public blog

There were many other actions I did that violated people's cultural expectations about autonomy, independence, personal space and respect that I needed to become aware of and problem solve.  Lots of times, who I was trying to change showed me their sharp teeth and I had to learn not to take it personally. I've had to learn so much about body language to be able to deal with feeling rejected, isolated and misunderstood. For instance, being near-sighted and not comfortable with glasses or contacts, I tended to stand too close to people when talking, encouraging them to back away from me or flee during a conversation.

When I finally gave in and accepted that it was OK that people in my culture did not want to be touched, I think others lost out on the value I could offer them about the importance of being touched. But they didn't seem to want it.

It happened at the point where the mother of my stepson gave me this little talk about how the people closest to children are the ones who are most likely to be sexually molesting them. She got it from the news, so I could have merely cast it off as a fad. But I couldn't help but take what she had said personally. Because it resulted in her son no longer wanting to enjoy being read to while sitting in my lap, or hang out with the family and friends on the couch draped over each other. It was as if his mother was, in a roundabout way, trying to accuse me personally of molesting her six year old son by cautioning him not to trust people about an issue which he had no clue what it meant at the time. It really made me angry. But it also made me realize how an accusation like that is pretty much the same as a conviction. So I decided to let sleeping dogs lie and stop trying to get people to touch each other more often. I think my decision at that time was a mistake, in retrospect.

But I'm still on the fence whether it's a good thing to be "training" people to accept being touched - or to just accept them the way they are. In the last year, I have been adopted by a stray cat who doesn't like being picked up. But over time, he's learned to accept me doing that for him to hoist him up to where he gets fed, without scratching me. I reason that some day, I'm going to have to pick him up when he's upset and I don't want him to freak out and attack me. But it's really just that I like his fuzzy ass in my arms and I like enjoying his trust. It's a bit like that with my friends too.