Paying to Connect
AUTHOR | WINTER JADE ICELY
This week a sister and I held a joint sensual bodywork session with a male client. Prior to commencing I invited him to share what he desired to feel and experience, he replied he was looking for connection. During the session he told us that he had not been touched for some time, repeating “it’s been so long” over and over. As I felt into his body my heart ached, I could feel his yearning for touch and connection, and I felt the imprint of it’s long absence. During the session he was wild- eyed, almost in shock that two women were touching him. holding him, loving him. He told us afterwards that it was one of the most incredible experiences he has ever had.
It was a thirty minute session.
After he left I cried. I have cried all week.
How could a young man walk through this world and not be held or touched?
Most of us as children (acknowledging not all) are held as babies, toddlers and youngsters but at a certain point boys are conditioned to offer a handshake in replace of a hug, a pat on the back instead of an embrace. I distinctly remember a time when I saw a close friend educate his son on how to greet others, to shake hands not hug, it was heartache for me to witness.
Humans are wired for connection through touch, it is what activates and supports brain growth in babies. In the work I have undertaken with children who have experienced trauma, lack of touch contributes to a failure to thrive. The babies I worked with who were touch deprived experienced significant development delays, their growth often halted and they showed signs of despondency. Touch is not something we grow out of or no longer need as adults, it is the essential component of connection and intimacy, touch produces chemicals in the brain that increase happiness and wellbeing.
What the fuck are we doing to our boys when we cut off their connection to intimacy with others?
When we assert a boy/man doesn’t embrace another, that instead he offer an outstretched hand.
When he is labeled ‘gay’ for touching another man and ‘sleazy’ when reaching towards women*.
We are withholding a man’s mirror to his own humanity through touch deprivation, to his own aliveness. It is only through touch that we get to explore the edges of spirit merging with matter. Touch is the thread back to community, to the lived experience of not being alone and most importantly it is the path to our hearts. Our arms being an extension of our heart centre.
As a family violence specialist for many years, I reflect on how this social conditioning has contributed to generations after generations of men disconnected from their hearts. Conditioned to stifle the innate need to reach for another, to fall into the arms of someone else and be held. A man disconnected from his heart cannot feel the heart of another, his thread to intimacy, to being part of the whole is disjointed.
He is an island.
Every man I worked with who had committed violence felt like an island, a lonely, hardened island. I am not by any means excusing violence but I am acknowledging that every child born into this world is wired to be loved and to give love and it is withheld.
As a society we create the perpetrators.
So when I see this young man in front of me, and feel into his experience of being on an island in the ocean of intimacy, I cry for that young boy that once felt the love of the world through the touch of others.
And I cry for the man who now pays to feel connection.
*I acknowledge women who have been touched without consent.
*I have stopped crying now thanks for asking (I also laughed a lot this week too)
*I acknowledge the incredible love that sits at our core and the people in this world bringing it forth.