Connection, Embodied practice, Leadership, Learning, Reflecting


In the moment of the goodbye, she hugs me….not a quick, rapid, throw-arms-round-as-I-buzz-on-to-next-thing hug, but a deeply present, warm I-see-you-we-are-connected-see-you-again hug…heart to heart stuff…. I literally and metaphysically find myself moved. I sink in for a second – yielding and accepting the feel of that message in my body, ready to be received, ready to give back connection, affection, love….there is a brief pause, where we’re just kind of together, and then she disentangles herself and goes… for a moment I am discombobulated, filled with good chemicals …at peace.
Then I sort of exhale and go about my day – a little heightened.
A small moment, a shifting one… how utterly delicious.

Not everyone likes to be touched.
Physically, psychologically, emotionally, sometimes socially, the phenomena of someone reaching us, connecting with us is a profound one.
It’s risky.
It can be thrilling
It can terrify.
Given, got.
Offered, accepted.
Withheld, denied.
It can’t be one-sided.
It’s a relational thing.
This stuff’s loaded.
Touch can be kind, enlivening, empowering.
It can be cruel, belittling, damaging.
It can be intrusive, a violation.
It can be instructive, a revelation.
We have, often for good reason, different boundaries and barriers around connection.
This stuff leaves you vulnerable.
It could do you over.
It could move you into different places and spaces,
It is not to be underestimated.

I’m interested in touch – what am I in-touch with? Out of touch with? What am I connecting to? Disconnect from?
I ask the same of clients… it helps to know this stuff.. or at least get a sense of it…

I have a client who hates to be touched – hugging literally makes them shudder – we’ve talked about it, each fascinated by the other’s ease of preference – I’m physical, a hugger, an arm toucher – the opposite would leave me more disconnect – I don’t understand what that preference must be like.
They spend their life being hugged and touched by folk like me, and it leaves them cold, irritated… compounded by the fact that society seems to value touch and hugs…. their boundaries constantly crossed inadvertently…Why do I need to bloody touch folk? Why can’t you let me be?
These are fair questions.

When I go and see Mum, deeply bitten by dementia, it is, at times, touch that connects us back, words won’t work here…. hands held, eye contact…a hand on a cheek… these are the gestures that garner a response.

In a novel I read recently, Karen Joy Fowler writes: “They are called feelings for a reason. It’s because you feel. Them.” Things touch us, they move us – we feel. Our physical experience of being in the world, so often overlooked, is such a vital part of who we are and how we are with others…how in-touch are we with this?

I’ll make the argument for opening up, taking the risk, being bigger, connecting more, putting yourself out there, being in-touch with yourself and with others… and I am one of the first who longs to lock-down, protect myself, hide away, out-of-reach.
I struggle with big crowds. I get overwhelmed in the Social Media maelstrom at times….lots of people professing connection… sometimes, the warmth I see and experience through virtual, social spaces, truly touches me…sometimes it feels hollow, vacuous….a scant touch, brief and care-less.

Which is why, when someone hugs me with such open heartedness, such generosity and love I’m bowled over for a second…and then I hug back….
Oh yes… this is what it feels like to be connected…. Wow.

11 thoughts on “Touch”

    1. Louise you are one of the people who gives those big hearted, open hugs. I’m missing you madly – time to come see you soon x

    1. Thank you, Simon – I’ve been off the blog-game a little of late, it feels good to let the words rip a little again. Hope all is well with you x

  1. Hi Julie, I read this whilst waiting in the bank and it made me well up. Thank you for such a beautifully written and poignant post. You write very well. Take care, Mica.

    1. Oh Lord… I wasn’t intending to make folk well up… but I love you were touched by a post about Touch… it’s done it’s job, I hope. … and Thank you for reading & commenting

  2. A really lovely reflection. Thank you for putting it into a blog and sharing this with us. I’ve got a little knot in my throat from reading this…

  3. A really lovely reflection. Thank you for putting it into a blog and sharing this with us. I’ve got a little knot in my throat from reading this…

  4. So poignant and well written as always. Makes me sad for all the hugs missed – either not given, or not received. My father wasn’t a hugger, but I eventually won him round – and just in time. Made those few hugs even more precious. Sometimes, with care, it can be done. Thanks so much for the timely reminder Julie. Much love and MANY hugs.

  5. Thank you for sharing. I too am a toucher and a hugger. There is something both rare and special about a long hug, it can happen in a moment, usually, when you pass what is considered ‘normal’ for the length of time for a hug. The way each of us relaxes, breathes into it, ahhhh, is a profound moment. Everything changes, we see the other person, maybe for the very first time. Beautiful.

  6. Wow – I love this! This is the first time I’ve read your blog and I immediately feel like I want to read more. Thanks for inspiring!
    Sam (a fellow proud hugger)

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