I Believe In the Necessity of Touch
By Robin Skonord Olson
Over the years I have heard stories about how important touch is for survival. I remember hearing a sermon once on love and the importance of touch. The pastor told a story about an orphanage in Romania where the children received little to no touch—they had no one to hold them like a parent would. As the pastor related his tale he explained that the infants were likely to die if they didn’t have anyone to hold them, rock them and love them. He also reported that the rate of illness in these orphanages was very high and that the children, who had to live in cribs most of the time, might not develop properly. I was skeptical.
When I was about 10 years old, my mother became very ill and spent several years in bed. Her illness was a mystery to the doctors but she suffered terrific pain most of the time. She would invite us kids into her room so that she could spend time with us. We loved to hear her read to us and tell us “made up” stories. Mom would often ask us to rub her back and legs. She would return the favor and “tickle” our backs. I loved Mom’s touch but I didn’t yet understand the importance of this touch and how important our touch was to her.
Jump forward in time—thirty years have gone by. I’m an adult. I’ve been in an abusive marriage for 12 years and have been isolated from all of my friends. The divorce took about six months and in starting over I’m so alone—I’m in agony. Mentally, emotionally, and physically I feel like I’m going through hell. And now I long for touch. Like a person lost in a desert with no water—I’m dying of thirst. Realization of my need for touch begins to manifest in my life—I finally understand. Then I have a car accident and my chiropractor recommends that I see a massage therapist.
My massage therapy began on a Monday and I saw Leslie, my therapist, two times a week for about 6 months. It was the beginning of a brand new life. I discovered that touch was healing—healing to the mind, healing to the body, and healing to the soul. Understanding the importance of touch has changed the way I “do” life. It’s now been 13 years since my time in “hell” and life is good. I have good friends and I have a great husband. But most exciting of all, I’m enrolled in the Massage Therapy program at my local community college and will graduate soon. Not only have I come to understand the need for touch, I’m making it my new “ministry”—taking what I believe and ministering to others. Everyone needs the healing benefits of touch—touch is like water, something we just can’t live without.
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