education, health, mental health, wellbeing

The Missing Touch

Human contact is one of our basic needs, but does its importance become more evident when it’s missing?

Since the dawn of time we’ve needed human contact and relationships. It’s been essential for our safety and security in those caveman days, and more recently, necessary for our mental wellbeing. Trouble is, when we’ve needed it most, the height of a pandemic, we’ve been told to stay apart, and hugging feels like it’s slowly slipping away as something we’ll never do again.

That’s not to say people haven’t hugged. Family members have cautiously continued to cuddle, but I’m a tactile person and I mingle in tactile circles (that doesn’t mean I hang around the crafting section of stores, although often that happens to be the case). Indeed, working in an attachment-based school, the day was made up of hugs from children and staff alike. Sadly, no more. We hide behind masks and visors, wash our hands religiously, and try to keep distances. It seems that all-important connection has been lost, and our hearts mourn to return to an era when we truly felt as one.

So how odd it was today, in amidst this strange time, to be touched.

Yes, that’s right. I was touched. Physically.

Not just physically though, mentally too. The headteacher walked past me. I was on an ipad completing some ‘paperwork’ (which is ironic considering no paper was involved), and I noticed her head towards me. She had a visitor so I didn’t want to interrupt. As she went past, there was the most gentle squeezes on my left elbow, and it took me back. I’ve know her for several years now but we’ve never been tactile – it’s usually only those in our department that are – but she touched me.

I looked up and caught her eye as she passed and that was it. She carried on walking. She’d not even stopped, but there was a strange sensation that swept over me. It was a sense of caring, of togetherness, of love.

Now, before anybody thinks this is the opening of a steamy romance novel, you’re wrong. She’s happily married. Well, she’s married. I can’t vouch for how happy she is, but all seems fine.

Having had a couple of days where the imposter reappeared and did his dirty dealings of telling me I’m not quite good enough, I felt a bit lost, but this simple act of touching my elbow and the subsequent feeling of safety, security, and ‘I’ve got you’ hasn’t left me. Was it because it was unexpected? Probably.

That fleeting moment though has had quite a profound impact on my day. I can’t really explain why either. It’s very odd. What it did was essentially say ‘I see you. I’m here if you need me’. It came at a time when, deep down, I felt lost and confused. It was like a guardian angel had been sent to remind me to keep on going and all would work out OK.

And let’s hope it will. Not just with what thoughts were previously pre-occupying my mind, but I continue to pray, as we all do, that this blessed virus disappears. In the meantime, let’s not forget the value and importance of basic human contact. Yes, we need to keep our distance, but showing our appreciation for our fellow human, finding ways of giving thanks, or expressing our love (even on the most basic and superficial of levels) is so important.

Whoever you are reading this, and wherever you are reading this, may your week ahead be one full of love and positive thoughts, and may you find it within your heart and soul to share even the smallest piece of that with at least one other human. Who knows what your ‘guardian angel’ act will do for them. Even if it’s not clear, I’m sure it will be appreciated. At the very least, the act of giving can only help to enhance your day.

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