Saturday, 10 May 2014

Hugs And Other Forms Of Physical Intimacy

One thing I have been confronted with repeatedly over the past months thanks to the time have spent at the local hackerspace is that of physical intimacy. With the people at this hackerspace being quite friendly there is the common occurrence of people hugging each other, giving a shoulder massage and the like. To me this feels... weird.

When people ask me whether it's okay for them to hug me I really have to think about it. For me it seems to come down to perceived threat level. My default assumption is always that I can not trust the person and that they will possibly hurt me. To mitigate this other factors need to be assessed.

The first factor seems to be that of the gender of the other person, the second how I perceive the personality of this person. I tend to have a far less severe defensive response when the person asking it is female. I am aware of my bad experiences with men in general and my general distrust of men as a result of this and other experiences.

I notice this in different ways too, such as when I see couples. When it's two women it's fine for me, aside from a touch of longing. When it's two men it's also fine for me. When it's a man and woman I feel uncomfortable, in pain and even sickened. When they show intimacy towards each other I have to look away while wishing I had never seen it. It's honestly traumatizing to me.

It could be that this is all just due to how I have been treated in the past, with mostly men either taking advantage of me or being the physicians who violated me physically. While I have learned to suppress any feelings of discomfort when I get into an examination chair at a doctor's office for yet another physical examination, I have to admit that it is a horrible and traumatizing experience.

Add to this that most of the physicians who examined me this way were most likely lying to me; attempting to brainwash me into believing that I was something which I am not. This tied physical contact, sexuality, men and betrayal together in a horrifying combination.

To me even hugging is a form of physical intimacy which one doesn't share lightly with others. I'm pretty sure that I would think about it in a similar way if I hadn't suffered these traumatic experiences. Every time I got physically violated it added a bit more to the trauma to get to the current point where I have to admit that this irrational hatred and distrust I feel against men in general is a problem.

I know I still have to figure out exactly what the sources of these irrational feelings are and what to do about it. I do know that I have to dive deep into my traumatic experiences of the past. I just hope that I can have the surgery over with soon so that I can at least put an end to the horrible physical examinations.

Maybe after the surgery I can finally start thinking about healing from my traumas. At this point I can only suffer through them, every day again.



OTaylor said...

It sounds like hacker-space is a great opportunity to build some personal relationships and restore some of the trust that's been lost over the years. My feeling is that the more settled you become in Germany the easier it will be to feel safe about where you are; a kind of security that's really important when trying to heal from trauma.

I'm not an expert, but from what you describe it sounds like you are reliving your traumatic experiences when you are in unfamiliar environments or surrounded by unfamiliar people. I think the "everything and everyone is a threat"-mode that the brain gets into happens primarily when we don't have a sense of personal safety.

With respect to the physical intimacy, I don't think that's its that uncommon and in fact there are lots of places where that is the culture: France, for example.

I would certainly recommend that you find a therapist that you can trust, if you haven't done so already, as I think they would be able to help you with separating your daily experiences from the memories of what happened, but I could imagine finding such a person will already be challenging for you.

Keep positive. Things will improve :)

OTaylor said...

It sounds like hacker-space will prove to be a great opportunity to build some personal relationships and perhaps restore some of the trust that's been lost over the years. My feeling is that as you get more settled into life in Germany you'll regain some sense of security, which is so important when recovering from trauma.

I'm not an expert, but from what you describe it sounds like you're reliving your traumatic experiences when you're in unfamiliar places or with unfamiliar people. The "everyone and everything is a threat"-mode the brain gets into seems to primarily happen when one doesn't have a sense of physical security.

I wouldn't worry too much about your feeling regarding physical intimacy. It's very common in various parts of the world, like France for example.

I don't know whether you're currently meeting with a therapist, but I think if you can find one that you can trust then they could help you to separate your memories of what happened in the past with your daily experiences, so you're not stuck in this constant state of jeopardy. Although, simply finding a professional you can trust will present the biggest challenge.

Keep positive. Things do and will get better.