I find myself feeling isolated even though I am constantly surrounded by friends and family. Last night I lay awake feeling withered after spending an enjoyable evening with friends. My mind wandered restlessly seeking an explanation to why I was feeling that way. Then it occurred to me, I don’t remember the last time I was touched. I don’t mean bumped or brushed or the quick obligatory goodbye hug. I mean intentionally touched.

Life with Jon was overflowing with affectionate touch, sometimes overwhelmingly or frustratingly so. He constantly would come up behind me while I was in the middle of doing something and give me a surprise bear hug. In fact, in the middle of doing something was his favorite time to try and sneak in a hug or kiss. We were almost in constant connection. Whether it was holding hands while we were walking, leaning against each other watching tv, or just the small touches in conversation or our habit of smacking each other’s butt when we passed each other through the house. Even though neither of us were prone to cuddling when it was time to sleep, there was usually at least some part of us touching, hand to elbow or knee to thigh. There were lots of times when one of us would roll over and our hands would brush against each other and we would instinctively entwine our fingers.

I’m not good at talking about emotional things until I have had time to process them. But often I would still need comfort even if I wasn’t ready to talk. Whenever I felt overwhelmed or upset it wasn’t conversation or distraction I craved, it was one of Jon’s amazing, enveloping hugs. Just a few minutes of that close contact with the person I trusted most would release much of the weight of whatever situation was distressing me.

Jon fulfilled my need for affectionate touch so completely I had no need to find it elsewhere. As an introvert I tend to keep my circle of intimate friends quite small, to be honest, he was the only one in that circle for the past couple of years. Now that space is empty and I am aching from the lack. My family loves me and is unquestionably supportive but not really touchy-feely, nor do we really discuss or display emotions. (Even emotional displays on tv are scoffed at.) It’s not that we can’t per se, it’s just not done. The friends that I have are great and I enjoy being with them. The relationships I have with them are mostly about doing fun things together or having interesting conversations (both of which I really need in my life right now), but not really sharing our hearts.

I know the fault lies on me. I’m horrible about sharing and I tend to keep people at arm’s length. Jon was always really good about getting people to share with him and he needed that skill to be in a relationship with me. Even after being married for years, he sometimes had to almost force stuff out of me.

For me being comfortable with affectionate touch comes with emotional intimacy.  Right at this moment there is not a single person who *knows* me. Lots of people know various parts of me, but there really isn’t anyone who knows what I am passionate about, what I am afraid of, what breaks my heart, what I believe, or who I want to be. So I find myself in a state of being unknown and untouched.

I know that it is up to me to change. I have to learn to open up and trust people with my heart. It’s a frightening prospect, but for my own emotional well-being, I have to start trusting people with more of me. This blog is a start, but it’s impersonal. People can choose to read it or scroll past it without me feeling any risk or rejection. It’s a start, but I am going to have to start saying some of these things out loud.

I am trembling at the idea of publishing this. I am truly afraid that I might hurt someone’s feelings or make people feel like they have to start treating me differently. This is just me trying to be honest with where I am at. More than any other previous post, this one makes me feel incredibly vulnerable even though, if I am really being honest there are still parts of this topic that I am holding back.

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Psalm 25:15-17

My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.