In the Realm of the Senses : Touch

I don’t like being touched. 

I’ve never been a hug person unless it’s been on my terms. I’ve always shied away from them unless I’ve known the person well or been in need of a hug for comfort or support. I didn’t come from a touchy feely family so I suppose that helped bit being touched just makes me, well, uncomfortable. 

I find being touched awkward. It’s not just the physical sensation that gets my Aspie skin crawling and my internal mechanisms twitching away but it’s also “How do I respond ?. What do I do now ?”. 

To some people touch comes naturally. The handshake, the hug, the kiss, all very natural movements and responses but none of those come naturally to me because I don’t know if I want to respond and I don’t know if my response is what others expect. Does it seem distant ?. Is it over familiar ?. 

I shake hands at interviews or when meeting people. I understand the courtesy aspect to it. But I do wonder where their hands have been ?. Have they washed them ?. Have I washed mine ?. Hugging can be awkward. My sister and I hug (a social convention apparently) but we do it in a stilted, stiff fashion because we don’t want too much body contact. Of course hugging my partner is much easier because I love her and we have that emotional connection but even so, there are times I find it more irritating than enjoyable. 

Kissing is a nightmare (apparently). I don’t know what to do when I get kissed. The cheek brush is fine but when it comes to (proper) kissing I get very tense so, apparently (again) it’s like being kissed by a woodpecker!. Maybe I find it hard to properly let go, so to speak but I find I go overboard or am too restrained. It’s so hard to get right. And I find kissing, unless I’m in the mood, again, slightly weird. 

By now anyone reading this will be pitying my other half. She knows that. It cheers her up and she thanks you for your support. No, she’s not quite sure why she’s with me either…

But touch, as in the physical side of touching another person, is only half the issue. 

It’s being touched by fabrics or types of shoe as well. I can’t abide wearing Wellington boots. I hate that rubbery, plasticky sensation on my feet, the heaviness, the sound they make. Yuck. I used to hate wearing a suit. It itched, it was uncomfortable, too tight, too hot and it never felt “right”. I was always conscious of sweating and scratching and feeling constrained. Again that’s a yuck. 

I don’t like heavy clothes. I like layers I can peel rather than being submerged beneath a mountainous coat. I don’t want to be suffocated, I want to breathe. I find hats annoying because my head overheats. I used to have to wear a wig when I sat in court (don’t get me started on heavy robes) and the scratchy and itchy feeling lasted long after I removed it like a type of phantom pain. 

Wearing a wedding ring was something I only got used to by the time I got divorced!. It felt completely alien and the skin beneath it always felt irritated and sore. I wear an engagement ring now and am used to that but, again, that took several years to settle down and even now I have days when my skin can’t seem to tolerate the touch of a thin band of metal. 

I know instantly the moment I try something whether I will tolerate it or not. The second I put it on and it rests on me, I know. There’s no “you’ll get used to it in time” with me. I know. I can tell if it will be too tight, too loose, too short, the wrong fabric, rubbing in the wrong place etc. There are no maybes. It’s a yes or a no. If it’s not instantly comfortable then it’s out. I can’t abide the thought of having to wear things in, to see if I get used to the sensation of them. The very thought makes me anxious and brings on the dreaded skin crawl, the itching, the sweating, that sensation of wrongness. No, not for me. 

My partner thinks I am over sensitive. I am not. I am Aspie sensitive. My senses are more greatly attuned to slight differences in sensation brought on by different materials and fabrics, different cuts and styles. I know what I like and what makes me comfortable. I wear what I know I will like. That might be a narrow range but it works. For me. 

And if it works then why change it ?. 

After all, I’m never out of touch….

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