When my Mum told me about her experiences with touch, it sparked me to want to understand why some people can't bear it and others crave it as they might crave water in the desert. About ten years ago she re-trained as a massage therapist and began a journey of discovery about the human body that is still ongoing today. What she discovered was quite extraordinary and she has continued to work with it to the benefit of the hundreds of people lucky enough to have been treated by her. To put it simply, she had discovered the power of touch and with it the emotion, fear, comfort and craving it evokes.
I grew up in an environment where touching was as natural as brushing your teeth. It was a gesture of love, comfort, friendship, familiarity and quite simply, a way of feeling connected to the people around you. As girls, we linked arms, spent a lot of time having piggy backs with the older children at school, held my teacher's hand in the playground when I felt unsure of something and cuddled up to my parents when I felt sleepy. There was almost no barrier between touching and not touching, except that the touch was a positive reinforcement of whatever was happening naturally.
I was lucky and I am grateful for that every day. I know others who grew up with touch being a scary and intimidating thing, or for some it was the lack of touch that led to a feeling of neglect from those closest to them. Touch is a powerful sense and can end up dominating our day to day interactions if it is misused or underused at any point in life. What Mum found, in her gentle and perceptive way, was that it can also be used to treat people and to help them reconcile with pain and loss.
Mum realised that her massages often unleashed torrents of emotion in people from all walks of life. It was often an unexpected reaction which left them reeling, embarrassed or led to a kind of cathartic release. For some, it might be that they were in an abusive relationship and had confused the connections between love, hate and touch. For others it was that they were suddenly intensely lonely having recently separated from a loved one. She said it was often the elderly who lived alone or in care homes that simply didn't experience that kind of touch anymore. It was a mis-used or deprived vital sense that needed to experience Mum's therapy as much as a physically sick person needs medicine to survive.
I wish more people were tactile and felt they could express friendship, respect, familiarity or a shared emotion through touch. It doesn't always have to be sexual, predatory or invasive. Holding hands, stroking faces or hugging can often express what a thousand words cannot. Why limit access to such a powerful primary sense to just a handful of people if your life? We see, smell and hear all the time and rely on these senses to get us through our daily lives. Touch is no different.
Mum's treatment can be found in Wiltshire, UK at http://thevitalitystudio.co.uk/