Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't touch me.

So, as I've written about before, I have a bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  It's pretty much under control, but there are still certain things I struggle with.

And what a lot of people don't realize that, with OCD, you don't just have compulsions.  There are also a lot of aversions that come hand-in-hand with it.

For me, there's only a few little things that bother me deeply (styrofoam, prime numbers, etc.) but there is one very big issue.

I am very uncomfortable with physical contact.

Obviously, there are exceptions.  I'm affectionate with my husband, though maybe not to the extent most wives are.  (I generally dislike holding hands and cuddling, and PDA is definitely not cool by me.)  Of course I dote on my son, but he's really just a little extension of me, so it hardly seems to count.  (Truthfully, I'm okay with kids and babies in general, maybe just because I'm way more comfortable around them than I am around adults.)  I'll even spare the occassional hug from my family, though they know I really don't care for it.

But in general, with friends and acquaintances?  I'm maybe good for a handshake, or a quick pat on the shoulder.  I see my friends hug each other in greeting and that just seems bizarre to me.  Maybe it's because, up until this point, my friends have usually been guys, but it seems like women are just touchy-feelier in general.  Female friends hug when they see each other, they touch each others' arms when they're talking.  They also stand waaay closer when they talk.  They lean in towards each other.  I can't navigate it.

Unfortunately, there are certain social situations where you have to be in contact with people.  Here's what they are, and why I hate them.

Massages.  I've had one massage ever.  Wasn't my idea.  I'd helped another store manager out with inventory, and she'd just had a baby, while I was still in my 2nd trimester.  Since she'd had such a good experience at Massage Envy, she gave me a gift certificate for a prenatal massage.  Said it'd help with my aching back, legs, etc.

I made the appointment and made an extra point to request a female masseuse, hoping it would cut down on my awkwardness.  It helped minimally.  It may have actually made things worse, because the lady I got was chatty.

I'm uncomfortable enough with small talk to start.  I am super-uncomfortable with small talk when I'm naked in a dark unfamiliar room and a stranger is rubbing my bare skin.  Standing over me, while I'm laying down.

I guess what I'm saying is, no one get me a gift certificate for a massage.

Haircuts.  I used to just avoid these altogether, with the side effect that I had painfully inconvenient waist-length hair.  (I was working in a tropical fish store at the time, and would use multiple ponytail holders to try and keep my hair out of the way and out of the saltwater.)

Unfortunately, now that I'm a big girl with a grown-up job, scraggly hippy tresses are not an option.  My hair has to be maintained, which means more frequent haircuts.

Haircuts are where I sit in a chair, once again, with a stranger looming over me, only this time they have sharp utensils.  I always opt out of the shampoo because then they make you expose your neck while they bend you backwards over a sink.

This might be a good time to mention that, while I dislike physical contact in general, I'm almost phobic about having my neck or wrists touched.  More on that later.

So, if you see me and my hair looks a little scraggly, you really don't have to tell me I need a haircut.  I already know.

Giving blood.  Okay, so this is the part that makes me look a bit like a masochist because, as you probably already know, I'm a big proponent of blood donation.  I go every 8 weeks like clockwork, and have given over a gallon in my lifetime.  But trust me when I say that I do it because it's right, not because I like it.

The trouble starts when they take your pulse.  To do this, they grab your wrist.  It has taken years of conditioning for me to not freak out and pull away when someone tries to touch my wrist.  I still flinch and tense up, however, and the Red Cross volunteer always tells me to relax, and that my pulse is really high.  Ya think?

Then they prick my finger and, though I promise to hold still, they still always feel the need to hold onto my wrist while they do this.  When they're finally done testing my iron and hemoglobin, they send me out to the little donation chair.

Then things get really bad.

I'm once again lying down while someone stands over me, only this time I know that they're planning on stabbing me with a needle.  I can take the needle better than I can the tapping, however.

The tapping is the part where I always come closest to passing out or vomiting when I go to give blood.  This is where they, yet again, hold my wrist with one hand while they use the other to tap all around my elbow looking for veins.  Tap tap tap.  For what feels like forever.

Honestly, I'm feeling sick just thinking about it.

It's a relief when they put the needle in, because it means the tapping is over.  Though they have to come grab my wrist again when they take the needle out.  Then I almost always end up falling over because I'm in such a hurry to get up out of that reclining chair.

These are also all reasons why I go to the Red Cross in Cary to give blood, instead of at the regular blood drives at work.  I don't need my coworkers to see my panic attacks.

Doctor's appointments.  Yeah, I probably don't need to explain this one.  Even non-crazy people get freaked out by the level to which your personal space gets invaded at the doctor.  Let me just sum it up by recounting the absolute worst combination of things I ever had happen at the doctor's office:  I had to have a breast exam at an obstetrics appointment.

Fortunately, for all the things I have to do, there are certain things I just avoid out of hand.  Like, I would never take a partners dance class.  Have you watched "So You Think You Can Dance?"?  (Weird necessity for double question marks there.)  Those dance couples have to touch each other just...everywhere.  And they're normally mostly naked while they do so.  I like watching at home, but I would never want to be a contestant.

I also often avoid dance clubs, at least the crowded ones, for the same reasons, ever since I almost got into a brawl with a complete stranger at this popular place called Hi-5.  (He was much, much bigger than me, and I was much, much drunker than him.  It would have been a very short brawl.)

I was dancing in a circle with my girls (and one gay male friend).  We were doing our thing, in that universal, closed stance of "ladies' night, back off".  A guy came up behind me, grabbed my hips, and pressed up.

So I took what was, for me, the logical next step, and turned around and swung at him.

My friends pulled me away and he quickly backed off, wanting absolutely no part of my crazy-drunk-girl-ness.  (Though, seriously, isn't a group of women and/or gay men dancing in a circle some sort of code for "leave us alone"?)

But it still creeped me out enough that I've kept to the gay clubs ever since.  (In addition to being less crowded, the music and drink are better, anyway.)

Finally, now that the TSA has gotten so out-of-control, I've decided I'm never going flying again.  I'll just drive or take a train wherever and, if I need to go overseas, I'll take a boat.

Because I can guarantee that if any of those jokers tried to give me an "enhanced patdown", it would end in an assault charge, and I don't need a criminal record.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TSA will give you an enhanced patdown? For free?? I'll be flying on my next 30-minute trip.

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