A touching dichotomy.

I’ve been – in various contexts – doing a lot of thinking about vulnerability lately. How frightening it is. How I want to allow those who love me, and those whom I love, close enough to touch me, but how hard that is too.

Touch is quite a bit about vulnerability. Physical touch, I mean. I am rarely touched, anymore. The choir is the only regular part of my life that contains that tactile form of communication. Professional relationships prevent touch at work; I’m untouchable there, as are my colleagues. It’s only with my choir friends – who I would trust with my life – that hugs will be given; my arm will be tucked into another’s, or someone’s hand on my back or shoulder, unanticipated, will cause me, shamefully, to flinch.

Again, that dichotomy: I crave touch. I long for touch – like that of my friends – that is simple, undemanding. Touch neither to cause pain nor make demands nor to express ownership. Touch that is simply an expression of love, of friendship. Of care and solidarity. I want to learn that touch brings comfort and warmth. I want to learn that the touch that brings pain or demands is not a touch that I should accept, not a touch that is normal, that is right. For so long it was the demanding, painful touch I was used to: now I’m exposed to good touch, to gentle touch, to right touch, and there are times when I long for the tactile comfort and upholding that touch can bring.

And yet I fear it too. I fear the hug from someone who loves me because it goes on for slightly too long – undemanding, comforting, loving, and yet it strips me back, right back to my vulnerabilities. The temptation to simply rest in the safe circle of a warm embrace, to let go of the normally rigid control I keep on my emotions, and simply to weep, to lay down the burden I’ve been quietly carrying – there are times when that temptation is too great, and it frightens me. I have to pull away because I’m only just learning how to weep in front of others. To trust others with my vulnerability. I haven’t yet learned not to hide my vulnerabilities, my tears, my hurt, like some shameful sordid secret. Like the shameful, sordid secret that it actually isn’t.

It’s been a year and two-ish months since I left my ex. A year and two-ish months of wonders, of learning, of healing, of growth. This is the next learning: learning to cradle, to cherish, my own vulnerable soul.

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5 thoughts on “A touching dichotomy.

  1. Those precious “year and two-ish months” have not been enough for you to re-learn so much of what was taken away in the previous decade. As you re-learn what a ‘normal’ life can be you will build on what you have re-learned. Trusting, loving, honest and open relationships will be not only be possible but normal. Your previous live was abnormal, painful, frightening and so many other things that I can’t begin to imagine BUT it was not, nor is it, your “shameful, sordid secret”! It is his!

    You have shone a light on the situation and brought healing for yourself and others who may be reading your blog. May God continue to strengthen you as you heal.

  2. Dear Naomi you have no idea how my heart breaks when I read about how much has been stolen from you. And In some ways it is the ‘little’ things. The things that I take for granted…a hug…the touch of a hand….that impact me the most. Perhaps it’s because it is only through your sharing that my eyes are being opened to the length, breadth & depth of the toll that domestic violence takes & exposes the truth, the reality that imagination alone could never begin to imagine on its own. And for that I thank you. But your honesty also enable us to pray for you ( & others) in real ways…not just in token cliches that would be the case if you were not so open & honest. God bless you & continue to give you courage as you walk this difficult path towards recovery, healing & restoration…which I know He is working to bring about in your life. Joel 2:25 comes to mind…where The Lord promises to restore/repay the years the locusts have eaten. This is my prayer for you.xx

  3. What a lovely thought from Caroline. In the Good News bible it is translated as “I will give you back what you have lost” … I am sure that God is honouring your struggles, honesty and vulnerability. My prayer, like Caroline’s, is that you will get back what you have lost … and lots more.

  4. Thank you, all. I am so blessed. And I am being showered by grace – the grace of friends and family (who are also friends). The locusts had a good munch, but now I am learning to feast. I am utterly blessed in the number of people who show me the love of God, and I am so grateful.

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