Monday, November 12, 2012

Tactile Defensive

As a kid in El Paso, four or five years old, sitting in the grass in the backyard, I completely lost my mind when a June bug crawled on my leg.  The legs of the insect felt weird on my skin, as if there were little suction cups on each leg.  I felt as though the bug was attached like velcro to my skin.  It seemed that I could even feel the tiny hairs on the legs! Yes, I remember that horrible, icky, feeling to this day, and I still get the roaring heebie-jeebies.  I did the only normal thing, under the circumstances.  I screamed bloody murder until someone came and knocked the bug off. 

I am tactile defensive.  I have come to accept this.  I don't like things crawling on me, or certain things touching me.  It's as if I need to crawl out of my skin to get away from whatever it is that is touching me.  Even shaking hands with people, there's always a moment where I have to grit my teeth so I don't jump or try to pull my hand away.

And hugging?  Don't. When I lived on the East Coast, where people are more reserved, hugging wasn't an issue, but I seem to attract the huggers here in Texas, maybe because I look squishy.  It's been very difficult as a result, and I don't see that changing. If you hug me, at the least, I will go board-stiff.  At the worst, I will punch you right in the face. I've been working very hard on not freaking out.  It's been a couple of years since I lost it and punched someone, so I suppose that  means that I'm improving.

My fear of needles?  Nothing to do with pain, and everything to do with the sensation of the needle penetrating my skin. My parents still talk about the large numbers of people required to give me any sort of shot, and I know exactly what the problem was--sensory overload.  The six or seven people piling on to hold me still probably didn't help.  I have worked out a little mental system that I now use so that I can endure needles, but my system doesn't work if I see the needle. 

I am proud of myself.  I have made a conscious effort to deal with this, without using it as an excuse to not talk to people or to meet people or to interact with people.  I've never not had an injection or needed surgery because I was afraid of needles.  I am determined that mind over matter will suffice. I refuse to let my freak-outs get the better of me, at least for now.  Probably they will all come back full throttle when I hit my eighties.  Except that old people are supposed to be eccentric and curmudgeonly.  I am sure that it will all work out.  Right?


  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!! From what I read you have made a lot of headway I am a proud of you.

  2. OMIGOD! You're a combination of Pilchard & I. He faints when he has a needle, and I'm not a hugger. Spooky, huh?!?!


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