This I Believe
Of the five senses, touch is by far my favorite. I believe in the power of touch. It does not require perfect word choice or inflection or proper eye contact. It is simple and it is always clear. If someone touches me with love I know it. If someone touches me with indifference I know it. If someone touches me with malice I know it. There are many reasons that touch has found its place at the top of my communication chain, the least of which is I am a massage therapist and have been for 17 years. I am of the opinion that this career choice grew from a foundation of learning that there was no safer place on the planet than my mother’s arms. When I was little my sweet momma would pull me in to her lap and rock me for hours when I was sad, she would gently scratch my back every night as sleep made it’s appearance and when I was sick my mom would hold my hair back at those crucial moments in the bathroom,. No words are necessary in moments like this: My mom was touching me – All was well in my universe.
In adulthood I found touch was a theme to every major event in my life both good and bad. These times included kissing my husband for the first time. Holding my daughter for the first time and in that embrace realizing my heart was cracking open in ways I had never conceived possible. Walking on that beach of virgin sand in Australia so many years ago and feeling the touch of the earth welcoming me to experience its power and its beauty. I had friends in college who, not knowing what to say when my father died merely hugged me and told me in their embrace they were there for me. I held my momma’s hand for hours upon hours in the last days of her life. I could not take away her pain but holding her I let her know that I was not afraid of being with her while she fought her final battle. Every night I touch my sleeping children to let them know one last time before I retire that I love them and that all is well in their universe.
Perhaps the most influential moment in my life that let me know the power of touch came in the form of violence. When I was 29 years old a man broke in to my apartment in the middle of the night and put a knife to my throat and touched me in ways no women should ever have to tolerate. The day after my rape my dear friend, Robert, gave me a massage and his touch was that light for me that pulled me back from an edge of darkness and helped me make that immediate re-connection with what I had always known in my heart or hearts: This event represented a nick in my life’s foundation. It did not damage it and in time this blemish would smooth over and eventually be imperceptible. I am blessed with many, many people who wanted to hold me while this nick was healing. They held me until I remembered that I was not broken and that it was not my destiny to turn my back on something that had always connected me to others and myself in a deep and tender way.
My attacker had not really touched me. He could not access the true me. Me, who had lived a life that had a solid, unshakable conviction that as long as there is someone to hold and someone to hold me in return then I will know I am safe and that all is well in my universe.
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