The cats are winning. This morning: Me: Hey, you're only cuddling… - Tactical Ninja
May. 10th, 2013
The cats are winning. This morning:
Me: Hey, you're only cuddling me so you can reach the cat, right?
Him: *innocent look* No, I was cuddling you and then saw the cat.
A likely story. Also, I caught them sort-of sharing a chair. So that we-hate-each-other-so-you-have-to-grease-u
Last night I went to a contact improv class. I like and enjoy using my body, and ideally I would like to do partner adagio, which is like slow-motion choreographed contact improv - but there seems to be little of that kind of adagio on offer in this town (it's all cheerleading based which is too fast for what I want), and I have been unable to find a partner. Hence the handbalancing. So anyway, I thought contact improv might be worth a try for a similar feel.
I had reservations because I know I have issues with being touched by strangers, but my experiences of circus training have all been ok so I thought maybe this would be too. Turns out, not so much.
The class started out with a mindfulness exercise with walking movement, which was all fine. There were three people I knew there, and three people I didn't. So we were walking about and I was getting a feel for moving freely, and then suddenly there's this hand on my shoulder from behind and the class teacher is talking about how we're now going to pick a partner and touch them and follow their movement and all I can think is SOMEONE'STOUCHINGMESOMEONE'STOUCHINGMESO
And when I got home I had a panic attack, and sat in the shower for half an hour trying to breathe and freaking out and then I went to bed and when Dr Wheel came home I was a mess and can I just say thank goodness for Dr Wheel. It's like my brain gets filled up with freakout hormones so it doesn't work properly and it takes a few hours for that to fade to where I can function normally and then I'm just really tired, and then I feel like a failure because this shouldn't happen. And he doesn't hate me for it.
So, um, that was unexpected. And horrible, and far too much drama for how I want my life to be. And now I'm trying to work out what happened. Here's what I've come up with.
I don't like being touched by strangers. Yet I can do adagio classes and have pap smear tests and breast exams and be fine. So it seems that I'm ok with touch from strangers when it's expected, there's a purpose, I know who will be touching me and where they'll be touching me and what we are trying to achieve by the touching. As long as there's fair warning, I'm ok.
So it wasn't the contact part that was the problem. It was the improv part - the part where I wasn't just going to be touched by strangers, I was going to be touched randomly and without warning and possibly from behind. I was already feeling a bit blergh when I started the class, and I had expected that we'd do warm up exercises and then maybe partner off, so I'd know who was going to be touching me and be able to mentally prepare myself - "this person is going to do X thing" and I'd be fine. Instead, I found myself in a situation where I could be touched by anyone at any time, anywhere and I had to tolerate it - in fact if I wanted to get anything from the class I had to make myself vulnerable to a form of intimacy that I have realised, I'm in no way ready to share with strangers.
It's not just touching, but interacting through touch. Communicating and moving with another person based entirely on what you can both feel through the touch. I can only think of three women and two men that I am willing to allow that level of intimacy with.
None of this was the fault of the contact improv class people. I had not disclosed my difficulties (tbh I didn't realise I had them to that extent till it was happening) and they have every right to expect that people who put themselves voluntarily in that situation would be ok with a simple touch on the shoulder. This is purely a thing that happened that was unfortunate. *shrug*
Anyway, so now I know. And the next thought in my mind is "How do I fix this?" How do I get to be so I'm not thoroughly freaked out by someone wanting to interact with me in that way? Like I said, 5 people is a very small trust group. There are more people I'm ok with touch I'm prepared for, touch that has context. How do I take the step from that to being more comfortable with intimacy?
As usual, I'm embarrassed. These occurrences are rare enough that they always take me by surprise, and when they do, all I want is to prevent them happening again. I don't want my life to be limited by this crap, and when it is I feel stupid. Sorry to those who witnessed it.
So, um. Maybe capoeira? Although, I get the impression that that's the realm of 20 year old boys - which would be aesthetically pleasing but I'd probably end up being their granny mascot or something.
Heh. The trials and tribulations of a frustrated adagio fan.
PS Hyperbole and a Half is back. It's worth reading.