A friend of mine mentioned a promo she was transcribing on “healing touch” and it mentioned how human touch helps communicate emotions. Hugs and embraces are a part of western culture. I have always had the impression that westerners are very warm people; generous and open with their affections. Asians on the other hand, especially the older generations, are more reserved and less expressive when it comes to touch. Thankfully that is changing.

I remember the first time someone laid her hands on me. It was to pray. I was a nonbeliever then and she was a lady I hardly know. I cringe at the touch of her hand resting gently on my shoulder but at the same time the feeling of God’s embrace was very real. I am not sure if it was the touch or the prayer that broke through my hardened heart. Most likely it was both. Ever since then I began to consider the value of touch and how much God uses it to communicate his love and care.

Ironically this healing act has also caused me much distress. You see, I have a problem with physical touch. It always produces mixed reaction in me. On one hand, I crave the intimacy and assurance physical touch communicates but at the same time I feel this….this…. violation of personal space. The only people I am able to give and receive embrace freely are my children. Most of my close friends are already aware of my handicap by now. So they keep their arms to themselves most times and try to express their emotions in other ways. Sometimes it gets pretty hilarious when they try to give me a bear hug and I would put my hand up and shake my head in protest. Or when someone, unaware of my condition, freaks me out with their unexpected embrace. But that aside, this condition really bothers me. Do you know how it feels like not being able to comfort and reassure a friend when they are hurting or having a bad day? Or not being able to share their joy in ways beyond a spoken “Congratulations!”? Deep in your heart you wish you could just break through that barrier and express your love and solidarity with them with a simple I touch of the hand, a warm bear hug or an arm placed protectively and lovingly around their shoulders? I’ll tell you how it feels. It feels like you’re a freak….useless…. deficient.

I still could not figure out the cause of this condition. Cultural background? Family upbringing? A result of rejection? Fear of vulnerability? After all, not allowing others into your personal space protects you from getting hurt.