On Touch and Otters

Fair Warning: This one is going to be a bit more personal than the normal videos/blog posts.  It is, however, all about the positive.

So, here’s the thing about touch.  It freaks me out more than a little most of the time.  Sure, my family gives me hugs, and being Greek I do the cheek-kissing thing…Turtle and I even whack each other regularly, but most people know me to be a touch jumpy, so they know to leave me be.  See, I’ve had some rough stuff go on at various points in my life and it’s made me rather averse to people touching me without notice, being near my face, or doing things like surprise-hugging me.  I have to trust the person enough to let them close.  About ten to twelve years ago, I went through treatment for PTSD with the support of my friends and it’s made me a better person, but makes me cautious.  Quite often, too cautious.

There are very few people in the world outside of my family that I don’t flinch away from when they touch me.  There are even fewer people I would let touch my face or pick me up.  It is a massive sign of trust or comfort with the person when I let friends put an arm around around me, mess about with my hair, or anything else through their own initiative, not mine.

This is what makes the last ten days a bit odd.  I took my Brit Lit class to England as per my usual.  The difference this time was that instead of becoming an acquaintance of the tour director, we became friends and mayhaps something more (though that will have to wait and see regardless of what the current student debate).  He’s sweet, sarcastic in a very British way, and has a brilliant heart, which I knew the day I met him, but we really talked a lot over the course of the trip and I came to trust him more than I thought in a very short period of time.

I noticed over the first couple of days that I didn’t flinch when he touched my arm or leg, but it really clicked that I was comfortable with him when the students were assigning animals to people on the bus and they tried to convince G (that’s what we’ll call the tour director for the purposes of this blog) that I am a raccoon.  Their choice made sense to me as they said, “you’re up all night, mischievous, like to cause trouble, and are afraid of nothing”.  G decided that this animal appellation was inaccurate, though he seemed to like the fact that they dubbed him an otter.  He stood up, got right down close to my face, and did this whole “who’s my little chipmunk” thing.  I just kind of blinked and giggled/smiled at him.  My laugh and my shortness is apparently what made G think of me as a chipmunk and it seemed to stick as he called me “my chipmunk” a couple of times over the course of the trip.  Then, in the Tube, one of my taller students demonstrated how he could touch something on the ceiling and I went up and reached for the same bit of ceiling.  As expected, even on my tiptoes I was a solid foot and a half to two feet away, so G grabs me, picks me up and asks, “Aww…is my little chipmunk too short?”  I didn’t really know what to do with it, but it made me laugh and smile again. Little goofy things like that and an off-handed comment from a student where she asked if he might have a crush on me made some pieces fall into place in my head.  I realized that whether he liked me or not, my comfort with him was amazing.  The fact that I am okay, more than okay really, with him hugging me, touching me, or laying my head on his shoulder is a sure sign of two things: 1. If I trust someone, I really can be happy with someone touching me and 2. Our conversations/his personality clearly made me comfortable enough with him that G was like a breath of fresh air in England.  Hopefully, we stay friends and possibly more, but either way, G made me realize that with the right person I can have that sort of connection that calms me down, relaxes me, and makes me more open.  That is worth everything and anything and left me smiling when I woke up this morning.

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