Friday, September 29, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 15

This post is a hard one. Mainly because I don't have the language to adequately explain exactly what this experience is/was/will be. The term that psychology and health providers are using for this phenomena of the need and desire for touch as "skin hunger."

Skin hunger shows up differently for a lot of people. When you are grieving sometimes people only offer one type of contact. However we all know what it feels like when our bodies go without touch for extended periods of time. Now amplify that by infinity and then shrink the access to almost zero. It's one of the most overwhelming experiences. It's incredibly lonely.

This is another experience folks who have lost a mother have experienced almost exclusively. This is the cellular part of the grieving. The part where you realize how the first relationship on the planet you had is gone. This is hard to explain because skin hunger is really about the nurture part of our lives and also stops when it becomes too sexual. Folks don't use the term "skin hunger" in the psychology field because it's too close to all the ish that is going down with discussions of "sex addictions." I mean what do folks call it when your largest sensory organ goes without and why sex got to be its own category?!

Our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are SYSTEMS in our bodies! They communicate in our bodies with our respiratory system, reproductive system, digestive system, etc. These all play a role in human sexual response. If the autonomic nervous system, which manages our unconscious actions (breathing, sweating, etc.), is ignored, so is the sexual pleasure.

The skin hunger conversations also focus on "how great a good hug feels!" Which is great until you realize you are a 6ft tall fat femme who doesnt have many tall peers to hug. See hugs from shorter people are so uncomfortable at times; for both of us. I'm sure folks don't want to smell my armpits and I'm sure they don't want my their nose slammed against my chest (unless they into that). See grieving and knowing there's at least a foot difference between you and the person hugging you means I didn't take the time to bend or contort my body too often to comfort others. I needed comfort that could hold my frame. It rarely came.

I have no solutions on what may result from all of this. I've only experienced the drop of not being touched as often as I needed. I would pay for massages with a body worker a homegirl suggested in NYC once a week for the first six weeks of my mom's death. To this day when I visit Emily in NYC she finds the parts of my body still holding the grief: that joint where my ring finger on my right hand is holding grief, the part of my hip, the section of my neck and head. I did the same as often as I could in New Orleans with my homegirl Aesha. I remember showing up to her studio a few days after mami's death day first anniversary and crying hysterically that I just needed her to touch my face during our massage. And complaining we don't live in the world where I can get the healing touch I need.

Then there's the "meaningful touch" part that complicates so much. For me I didn't want just anyone touching me. I wanted people who cared for me and who understood this ache and imperative need to survive to touch me. When your folks are tapped out this gets really hard. I had two lovers who were complete strangers with me for my first six months after mami's death. They helped and required too much care for my tender heart. I sought lovers, partners, and cried over the fact that I live in a world where people are so fearful of touch and can't imagine fuller relationships of homieloverfriends.

One homegirl who has this homieloverfriendships told me it took her years of asking people an hearing rejection and now she's living the life she wants. She lost her mom over a decade ago and it took her almost as long to get to where I want to be right this second.

There's lots of healing work in the grieving process. Finding people to help assuage your skin hunger are rare. When you find them hold onto them!

Read post 14 here.

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