Don’t Touch Me

Sometimes people have an inexplicable urge to lay hands on my person. They grasp my arm, they tousle my hair, they rest their hands on my shoulder, and sometimes — God forbid — they wrap their arms around me in that oppressive maneuver, that universal gesture that engulfs, that binds me in hideous sensations of warmth, love, and nausea. Like a wet sponge wrung out over the sink, their embrace squeezes the darkness from my soul, but I hate it, hate it, hate it. People perform the aforementioned behaviors to reinforce our (presumed) friendship, but for me, they are popping my security bubble. It is jarring. It is unnecessary. The bubble keeps me from feeling connected to the world around me, which is absolutely essential to my well-being. It allows for the sustained illusion of safety.

The other day, someone at Best Buy grabbed my arm and led me gently from the door marked entry to the one marked exit. As he did so, I said, “Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.” Not loudly; just enough to convey the tone of my inner monologue: Touching, I am being touched, do not want the touching, do not like, do not want, make it stop, feelings of unease, feelings of unease, feelings of unease. When we reached the exit door, he looked at my wide eyed expression and said, “You okay?” I said, “I AM FINE THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME MY SKIN IS TAINTED BY FOREIGN FLESH,” and moved on with my life.

Another time, as a means of enunciating her point, a lady put her hand on my shoulder and shook it a bit. A noise was emitted, a high pitched frightened zebra wheezing, and she blinked at me. At this point, I had to transition seamlessly into “I am a normal human” mode in which I pretend that people grasp hold of my body parts on a regular basis without me acting like a crazy person. She shook my shoulder again and scrutinized my reaction. “You seem disturbed.”

Who are these people laying their dirty mitts on me all willy-nilly? What are they doing? What are they thinking? I’m not the crazy one this time, no, not this time; they’re the ones being weird. I am the pilot of an organic machine I use to navigate my environment, one that is carefully cleaned and maintained by means of showers, deodorant, teeth brushing, and, I don’t know, shaving. It’s not the fastest, strongest, or most handsome machine, but it’s the only one I have, and I cannot abide a bombardment of groping upon its surface from a horde of anonymous randoms. Unacceptable! Intolerable! My smooth unblemished bone-white skin does not require whatever dirt and grime lies caked between the microscopic crevices of their fingertips!

Earlier this week, after performing an undoubtedly hilarious improv scene, one of my classmates grabbed my arm. There must have been a perfectly reasonable context for this because when I jerked away and shouted, “I am being touched! What is happening? What are you doing?” everyone acted like I was being weird. My classmate said, “Whoa, sorry for touching you.” Thinking fast, I said very casually, “Oh, yeah dude, it’s all good in the neighborhood.” But make no mistake; it is not all good in the neighborhood. The neighborhood lies on the verge of anarchy, of violent self-destruction, at all times, always, forever. It is a neighborhood perched on the edge of a cliff on a tectonic fault line in the shadow of a meteor. It is a neighborhood in west Baltimore.

I remember as a child, various uncles would perform a deep tissue tickling in which they tickled so forcefully, I thought they’d crush my organs with their brutal stabbing fingertips. They’d tickle and tickle — and I’d be laughing, yes, but it was the agonized sort of laughter where I can’t freaking breathe, and I’m dying, suffocating, and they don’t care, and Jesus Christ mom, are you going to stop him from murdering your child in the middle of the family Christmas party? My dad had an even more diabolical tickle method called “The Crab” which wasn’t tickling — pause for reader’s fearful anticipation of molestation — it was pinching on my arms and legs and chest. Ouch.

Being a tiny person for a large portion of my early life, cousins and physically superior “friends” would often pick me up like a rag doll, dangle me from the tops of staircases by my feet, and toss me into objects they estimated (sometimes mistakenly) were soft enough not to cause permanent damage to my bones. Just a year or so ago, a former roommate of mine decided, after I shoveled mud into his boots for no reason, to pick me up and toss me onto the back of my neck, inflaming the muscles around my spine, and leaving me in a state of agony for months. (He refused to share medical expenses. He later attempted, via check fraud, to steal the deposit money on our home. We are no longer friends.) I suspect the cumulative impact of this history of, dare I say, physical abuse has led to me being a bit leery of touchy stuff.

However, let us be clear: sudden unexpected skin contact with other people can be disconcerting, but it’s not always unwanted — pretty girls need not fear caressing me for I will not recoil or ruin the moment with, “Why is this happening to me? You dare pollute the holy temple with your filthy girl fingers?” No, that won’t happen. People I’m familiar with — friends, family, acquaintances — for these individuals, I can handle minor incidents of physical contact/ manhandling. Just don’t sneak up on me. TC mark

image – Jon Genius

More From Thought Catalog

  • Alison

    …this is me.

  • Sesamesnaps

    Aw, does someone need a hug?

    But wait, in defense of your hulk roommate, I too would flip shit if someone shovelled mud in my boots for no good reason.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    I could feel your pain just by reading this. nice.

  • Myjohnsonis12incheslong

    I hope the next thing that touches you is an AIDS infected dick across your face while you’re sleeping on the L train

    • Alison

      …what?

    • DAMO

      umm.

    • http://twitter.com/sodiumsepia Rick

      Hey there little fellow! You appear to be lost! If you’re looking for  the comments section on Youtube, the URL is Youtube dot com!

      • Myjohnsonis12incheslong

        Sorry, didn’t mean to intrude on your elevated hipster narcissistic bullshit – i realize the topic “don’t touch me” is very serious. Now excuse me while I go take a Rick.

      • http://twitter.com/sodiumsepia Rick

        Aw jeez, I was only joshing ya. Don’t cry. It’ll be OK. They’ll like you over at youtube!

  • Low

    loved it until the whol mud-shoveling thing came up, and you sounded like a bit of a dickhead

    • Bobos

      it was implied self-deprecating humor, dummy

  • A.

    I hate when anybody goes in for that faux air-kiss on the cheek thing? I literally will cringe and lean as far away as possible and say “I don’t do that.” Get your face away from mine.

  • http://rayguntest.tumblr.com Raegan

    I think you need therapy

    • Lauren Marie

      I think you need to be less judgmental.

      • http://rayguntest.tumblr.com Raegan

        BUT WHO DOESN’T LIKE HUGS?!?!

      • http://rayguntest.tumblr.com Raegan

        A: People who need therapy! Duh.

      • Lauren Marie

        Nope, that is definitely not in the DSM – IV, probably not going to be in the DSM – V either.  Hugs are lame and too touchy.

      • Lil Miss Bipolar

        So how do you show love and affection? Sorry it’s just unthinkable that touch is abhored with only certain exceptions. We grew up in the womb  full contact with human being, maybe socialisation caused the direct opposite of what is common.

      • Guestie

        It’s not unthinkable to a person that has been roughly manhandled throughout their childhood/life has an aversion to being touched. He gives a reason for his behavior and it’s valid.

      • Lauren Marie

        I show love and affection through my support emotionally and other ways.  As Mr. Pike said, with some people he is close with some contact is acceptable and I feel the same.  Many people seem to assume that others have exactly the same personal space requirements as they have themselves, all of the people both surprised and in agreement on this comment section seems to lend credence to the opposite being true.  Also when I was in the womb and for a little while after many would argue that I could not comprehend that my mother and I were not one entity. 

    • CausticWit

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with not wanting some random in your personal space unless you invite them first. I’m actually concerned for someone would appreciate an unexpected hug from literally anyone on the street. Are there no boundaries?

  • Ash Philpott

    Finally someone can relate. Don’t freaking touch me! You have more exceptions for who can touch you though. I can just feel my skin crawl when someone puts even a hand on my shoulder. Ew. Stop it.

  • Anonymous

    @89ffe5176871efa6b6bb5c66cf200e68:disqus ,,..…Listen to this…Neighbor’s girlfriend makes 68 hourly on the internet. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was 7958 USD just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it on this web site……….http://alturl.com/onjyi

  • lauren

    “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” HAHAHAHA PERFECT

  • Keltydennis

    I was reassured by the last paragraph, since I spent the rest of it thinking, “how does he have sex? How would he have sex? Does he have sex?”

  • http://twitter.com/AFDex16 Tony F.

    ““Oh, yeah dude, it’s all good in the neighborhood.” But make no mistake; it is not all good in the neighborhood. The neighborhood lies on the verge of anarchy, of violent self-destruction, at all times, always, forever. It is a neighborhood perched on the edge of a cliff on a tectonic fault line in the shadow of a meteor. It is a neighborhood in west Baltimore.”
    oh my god this is brilliant XD

  • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

    i want to pet your face

    • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

      I’m not the crazy one this time, no, not this time; [you’re] the one being weird

  • http://www.facebook.com/CKStacherski Christopher K Stacherski

    You sound like a fickle fanny.  Nice big words though!  You sound smart.  SOUND.

    • MYOB

      Do you even know what fickle means? “Not constant or loyal, likely to change, casually changable.” He has shown none of these traits in this article, maybe you meant “picky?” or something along those lines, either way you’re a moron. Also if you think the words he used were big, I think you need to go back to school, this was just a casual rant.

  • Rosie

    I empathise entirely. It is not all good in the neighbourhood, no it is not at all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4T27JL52BMUIB55WOG3BZDTTBU Mercedes

    This is so relevant to my life.

  • Iwannagohome

    There are more people out there like this than most people would imagine. One of my best friends and myself included. There is no need for therapy on this. We just don’t like to be touched. Period. If we know you, we may spare your life if you do happen to touch us. It’s just how we are. Accept it or get the hell away from us. Have a great day. :)

  • Liz

    I am the exact way. I hate being touched or people sneaking up on me. Which some people find Hilarious. The only person who can touch me with out me freaking out is my boyfriend and my best friend.  If he warns me first.

  • samantha

    I love you. 

  • http://thebackgroundstory.wordpress.com/ The Background Story

    People should learn how to respect others’ personal space. Just because it’s okay for them to be touched doesn’t give them the right to go around touching people. :(

  • http://twitter.com/amseries AM Santos

    You’re such a sensitive, bitter individual. But I admire your confidence when it comes to announcing here your skin-deep rant.

    • MYOB

      Nice backhanded compliment there. *eyroll*

  • http://sans.deadti.me/ Amy McDeath

    Regardless of whether you’re crazy or not, if someone says they really hate chocolate, like abhor it, and then they tell you that their mother used to force feed them chocolate for years when they were young, it’s not a stretch to consider it some form of mental illness.

    Especially considering, in this case, as you have demonstrated, touch is a big part of how humans interact. It’s not inexplicable, any more than eye-contact is. From birth, touch is an important part of our connection with other humans. In fact, before we worked out that babies needed human contact, something like 3/4 of orphans taken into care would waste away and die. When they started getting touched, the survival rate increased dramatically. 

    Whether you care is another matter entirely, but don’t expect us to stop touching you >:|

    • Guestie

      Why would you EVER touch someone against their will? “…don’t expect us to stop touching you” how rude and inconsiderate.

      • http://sans.deadti.me/ Amy McDeath

        I don’t expect humans (what I meant by ‘us’) to stop shaking hands any time soon, or getting eachother’s attention with a touch to the upper arm. 

    • Guest

      If I were him, I WOULD expect you do stop touching me if you knew it made me uncomfortable. Go touch someone who welcomes it.  Would you try to force feed the chocolate hater, too?

  • macgyver51

    What a sad, solitary life you lead.

  • http://itsrainin9.com/blog Geraldine

    “They’d tickle and tickle — and I’d be laughing, yes, but it was the agonized sort of laughter where I can’t freaking breathe, and I’m dying, suffocating, and they don’t care, and Jesus Christ mom, are you going to stop him from murdering your child in the middle of the family Christmas party?”

    This was brilliant. Heh. I used to be like this too, never could stand the forced hugs and touches from people I didn’t know and didn’t like and didn’t care to get to know better, until I managed to put up an aura of “Don’t touch me or die”. I’m cool with the slight brushes from people I’m very close to, but if we’re not that close, it’ll be: WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING ME?

  • Guesty

    being tickled is the WORST. thank you for this article :)

blog comments powered by Disqus