I remember when my high school boyfriend held my hand for the first time. It was in a movie theater. Every cell in my body was on fire. The beads of sweat formed in between our palms as I felt the ache in my stomach turn to butterflies. I was 15 and being touched for the first time by a boy. It’s one of the great life-altering moments in every young woman’s life. And yes, we remember them like they were yesterday.
I remember being on the dance floor in college at some local bar, drunk off my ass and heartbroken. An unfamiliar young man ran his hand across the small of my back. As numb as I was, that feeling was never forgotten.
I remember the moment I realized that I had fallen in love with that young man. It was the kiss we shared after we laid all of our hopes and dreams out on the table for the other to pick apart and walk away from. Instead, we realized we had met our match. That kiss sent me to the moon, and the rest is history.
Then, along came motherhood. Something I waited my whole life for. Something I wanted more than anything. And to share it with the man who chose to give me the world over and over again every day. How blessed was I? What had I done to deserve it all?
The first skin-to-skin contact with my babies was intoxicating. The first embrace, kisses, everything was beyond intense. It was a love and a feeling that was so deep and overwhelming, I have no words to describe them.
But everything changed after that. To be “touched” didn’t have the same meaning. It gradually became a nuisance at times. A big nuisance. Everyone wanted a piece of me, and there just wasn’t enough to go around.
After putting my body through the deconstruction process of birthing a baby, I began the reconstruction process, which felt almost as painful, if not worse. After a while, pulling the baby off my milk saturated breast while simultaneously meeting my husband’s foot under the covers, just became too much. No, there just wasn’t enough of me to go around.
I was overstimulated, and still am for that matter. I could barely please myself, and still grapple with that balance. How could I please everyone else and still desire to be touched? Being touched took on a meaning so broad, I couldn’t categorize it if I tried. It’s physical, yes. But it’s emotional, and debilitating, yet euphoric, and infuriating all at the same time.
As I’ve walked through motherhood, to be touched is breastfeeding at all hours of the night. It’s falling into your bed, feeling the sheets against your skin only to be woken minutes later by a baby that just wants to be held. And once again you’re being touched—physically and emotionally.
It’s stumbling into the bathroom with a baby on your hip, your right breast hanging out of your shirt as the other leaks breast milk through your shirt, and your husband grabbing your left ass-cheek while he gives you the stare of desperate lust. This all happens three minutes before you have to break the news to him that your first period just arrived, and it’s likely to last weeks.
It’s putting your toddler to bed as he grips your hand or has you in a choke hold of sorts to ensure you won’t escape. It’s feeling your toddler climb into your bed in between you and your spouse as you thank God he didn’t come in five minutes earlier and catch you having sex. You’ve literally had five minutes alone without anyone touching you.
Five fucking minutes.
Your whole body is screaming to be left alone.
It’s also the hugs and kisses goodbye, the ones where you want to linger forever. It’s the hand-holding while walking to school or through a parking lot as you feel the pull of separation as you near safety. It’s that pain right there that you just felt.
It’s the look of fear in your child’s eyes as they meet yours for guidance. You give them strength with every encouraging word as you hold strong and crumble when they look away.
It’s the look of pride, safety, trust and admiration you share with your spouse after you realize how far you’ve come in this big, scary world. “Look what we’ve created,” you say to each other over and over.
It’s the strenuous amount of lows you navigate together, never knowing you’ll actually make it another day, and the fleeting highs you sail through, wondering how lucky you are to be where you are and have what you have.
It’s an endless mind fuck, for lack of a better term. The constant push and pull of desire and disdain, satisfaction and utter misery, happiness and unhappiness.
Having a family, having children, it’s everything you wanted. It’s everything you never knew you needed. It’s so much more than that. It’s overstimulating and overwhelming, and too much of everything, mostly too much love. But not too much love, like, “Take it away!” Too much love, like, “Oh my God, what do I do with all of this love? It’s so amazing!”
In the end, you’ll never regret how much you were touched, because it doesn’t last forever. You’ll want the physical touch back constantly. And emotionally, you’ll never be the same.
Because you’re touched forever.
Because when they let go, you’ll still be holding on.