Touch Starvation & Depression

Something I was reading about that makes total sense to me is that “touch starvation” can lead to depression, and I fit the category 110%. Affectionate human touch is essential to connecting with others, as it stimulates oxytocin, the love hormone that reduces stress and pain, helps with emotional well-being, and naturally increases overall physical health. An article from Psychology Today reports that “Lack of physical affection can actually kill babies.”

So if touch starvation can kill infants, what does it do to adults? Studies have shown adults that lack affectionate touch are inclined to be more depressed, have anxiety issues, are lonelier, and have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Somehow deep inside, I know all of these things, because I can feel it. Sometimes I feel that I’m fucked, and I will probably die at an early age. And to drive the anxiety level up, my fear is to die alone, like one of those people found weeks later with her cats gnawing at her dead body.

I come from a family that didn’t hug much or showed very little physical affection towards each other, so I’ve never been a touchy-feely type of person unless I’m in love. I recall being forced to hug strangers in church when I was a kid, and I absolutely despised it to the point it sometimes made me sick to my stomach. For all I knew, I was hugging some pedophile hiding under the guise of being a godly person. Since I also feel people’s energy, hugging those with bad or “off” energy doesn’t work for me, as I tend to “catch and carry” whatever it is they have. I have experienced my fair share of “bad” touch, which is an entirely different topic, but I wonder if it makes a person unresponsive to any sort of touch?

Experience has taught me that invited touch (i.e. cuddles, massage) from the opposite sex often leads to unwanted and uninvited touch or forces me to do something I’m not ready for, another double-edged sword that can screw up a person’s mind and make them fearful of intimate physical touch. It takes me a while to fully trust in someone, but at the same time, I have also gone full force too soon trusting those that ultimately hurt me. When I meet someone that can respect my boundaries, that’s when the trust begins. As soon as someone breaks trust in any way (physical or emotional), their touch repulses me, and it never comes back, which brings me to this:

A few male friends have almost crossed boundaries, which makes me not want to hang out with them anymore. Usually, drinking is involved, and when I am just friends with someone that has a few drinks and suddenly finds his hand touching my knee uninvitedly or arm around the back of my chair in public as if we’re a couple, it turns me off. My body language is very clear about what I invite into my space, so if I want a man, he will know it. When I don’t, my body language will say it, but I have to realize a lot of people don’t know how to read body language.

The other evening when I had sushi with a new male friend/acquaintance, I was not turned towards him or gave him any indication I was interested in anything more than friendship and conversation; however, towards the end he ended up sitting closer to me as if we were on a date, and his body language said the opposite of what I wanted. Just because a man pays for my meal and a couple of drinks doesn’t give him the right to disrespect my physical space and boundaries. If my female friends paid the tab, they wouldn’t try to make out with me, so why do men think it’s okay? It’s NOT.

On the opposite spectrum, my ex was super needy and touchy-feely to the point that I felt suffocated. Too much touch is just that – too much. I’m not the type of person that can give another person that much attention; otherwise, I’d have had more children. A healthy balance is nice, and it’s what I had with OC, and I haven’t experienced that since.

Being an introvert probably doesn’t help with my situation, because I expose myself to far less people than an extrovert would. Massages help tremendously when I can afford to have one, and I notice a huge difference in how I feel afterwards, not just physically but mentally. Sometimes it’s the only human touch I get for months. How pathetic that I have to pay for it. At least I have a cat, because touching pets does help, plus he has great unconditional loving energy. However, I truly miss being cuddled by a human, especially on cold or rainy nights. No wonder I’m a fucked up, depressed mess. Maybe I should get more cats.

Getting Rejected by Male Friends

There’s a reason why heterosexual men and women cannot just be friends: sex. Even when sex is not involved, once the man realizes he’s not going to get anywhere with the woman sexually, he either ditches the friendship or remains very distant.

I met someone last summer that was a very good friend to me. He was there for me when no one else was when I had my surgery and helped me tremendously, more than anyone in my family or circle of friends. He fixed my car for free and refused to take payment. I felt comfortable enough with and trusted him enough to share things that I’d never told anyone else. We didn’t have much in common, but sometimes we’d have dinner or drinks together. Our communication was pretty much daily, and it was nice knowing someone cared. But I noticed something changed shortly after my surgery and then again recently.

Once I was on my way to recovering from surgery, I saw less and less of my male friend. I know he had a bunch of his own things going on; from a friendship standpoint, I was available for him emotionally if he needed me. But apparently, he didn’t need me. Each time I offered to make dinner for him in return of the favors he’d done for me, he declined. At some point, I told him I was going to stop asking, because I can’t keep setting myself up for rejection. His communication became less and less, and I let him know that I felt that he was avoiding me, and I wanted to know why. He gave excuses about working a lot, being busy, dealing with stuff. Okay, I get that, but I also felt it was just excuses and that he was blowing me off. After all, we went from hanging out 3-4x a week to maybe once a week or every other week. I figured maybe he’d started seeing someone, but he swore that wasn’t the case.

One of the things in the back of my mind is that he knew that due to the surgery, I was unable to have sex for a long period of time, so maybe that’s why he wasn’t pursuing the friendship. When I’d brought this up to him, he denied it and continued saying he was just busy. After healing from surgery and being medically cleared for normal activity, he found some time to hang out again, and he kept asking me when I was okay to go back to regular activity again. I knew he was referring to sexual activity, and medically, I was approved, but mentally and physically, I wasn’t ready.

When the holidays came around, my male friend was busy with family, so I barely heard from him and only saw him once – and it was the last time I saw him. This is about the time the friendship seemed to have completely changed. It was clear to me that he wanted to fuck, and even though my body wanted to, I physically could not due to other medical issues I was having. Mentally, I still couldn’t handle it at the time, and I didn’t want to get my feelings involved for the wrong reasons with someone that also isn’t emotionally available.

I told my male friend that I can only be friends with him, because I am going through my own shit, I knew he was going through his. I reminded him that he’s completely emotionally unavailable, and he treats me no different than he does his other friends, so I’m not about to have sex with someone that puts me on the same level as everyone else. This incident happened between Christmas and the new year. Since, I only hear from my friend when I initiate the conversation, and he hasn’t invited me to do anything at all. A week or so ago I was running errands near his house, so I asked what he was up to; he usually tells me to stop by and say hi. He didn’t. He hasn’t even initiated a hello or anything, which makes me feel like he only wanted to hang out thinking he was going to get laid, and that makes me feel like shit.

I sent my friend some messages about trying to arrange fixing my car again, because we’ve been discussing it for several months. He ignored my message and other regular ones I’d sent, but he had time to post shit on social media. When he eventually answered me, I felt he was being standoffish. So today, I finally sent him a message saying, “Look, I don’t know if you’re seeing somebody or something but you don’t even say hi to me anymore unless I initiate the conversation. I haven’t seen you literally since last year. I know you’re busy and all but I feel like something has changed between us. I almost feel like I’m bothering you by even asking you anything.” So far… crickets.

This is the type of behavior that men display that makes me not want to bother becoming friends with straight men anymore, because it’s a double edged sword. Just because I’m not going to have sex with someone doesn’t mean we can’t be friends and we can’t hang out, that we can’t eat meals together like normal friends. It’s really hurtful to gain trust in someone that was once so helpful, then just drops off the radar when he knows he can’t have sex with me. It’s really hurtful to continue being rejected by people that only want to be friends under certain conditions.

Lack of Sex & Depression

Yesterday I wrote about eating alone and depression, realizing that I need some social interaction during meals. While still attempting to get to the root of my own depression, I realize that when I am having regular sex, I am a much happier person. I sleep better, eat healthier, feel more energized, and for whatever reason, I think more clearly and get more things accomplished, and I generally feel alive all over. I cannot remember the last time I felt that way. (Oh wait, yes I can – two and a half years ago. *cringe*)

I did some research on depression and lack of sex. Not surprisingly, it turns out there is a correlation between the two. The hormones released during sex help with fighting off stress, pain, and illness – all of which I’ve been dealing with. There are other physical bodily results from lack of sex that made me say WTF! For women: “Without regular intercourse, your vagina can tighten and its tissues can get thinner and be more likely to get injured, tear, or even bleed during sex.” Whoa. This would explain some things.

During the last three years of my marriage, we had sex once a year, and I didn’t consider myself depressed at the time, but looking back, I probably was. Prior to those three years, sex was dull; even though he was happy and thought it was great, it was boring for me, because he was boring and insisted he knew what he was doing when he did not. Except for a couple of short term relationships (2-3 months) in the past six years, I haven’t had regular sex at all. I miss being held, being close to someone, and having someone to care about. I haven’t had good sex or even a good kiss in over a year. No wonder I’m depressed and pissed off about everything.

Solo isn’t cutting it anymore. I’m not desperate enough to have a fling, but dammit, my body is telling me it needs some attention. Prior to the past year, I would have been open to a friend with benefits situation, but that’s not going to work for me now. I tend to get my feelings involved for the wrong reasons, and having sex only increases those feelings – and I certainly don’t need to put myself in another situation that makes me feel shitty. And despite some of the terrible things I’ve written that have happened to me, I am very aware of my sexuality, and I have no hang-ups enjoying intercourse with the right person. The issue is finding that person.

Eating Alone & Depression

I have a lot of work to do with myself. Writing down my thoughts has been extremely therapeutic for me, and the more I write, the more realizations I have – the patterns, the negative thoughts that were ingrained into my system that I didn’t even know existed. I’m doing my best to pinpoint the things that have been causing depression and doing whatever I can to lift my spirits.

Whether you’re an adult or a child, eating alone all the time can be depressing. When I was trained to be a home health care aide, we were told that it’s important to eat meals (or at least sit) with our elderly clients, because they tend not to eat as much when they’re alone, and they’re happier eating with other people. What is it about eating alone vs eating with others that somehow determines our happiness? Studies have found that people enjoy the general social aspect of eating with others. The only times I didn’t eat alone throughout my adult life was when I was in the army, married or had a boyfriend, or when my daughter was young and I had a regular schedule. Studies show that people who share meals with others tend to eat healthier and live healthier lives. I suppose that would explain one of the reasons I have been depressed for much of the past six years.

Except for eating at my grandparent’s houses or with my father when I was a child, I often ate alone growing up. If I didn’t eat alone, I was usually separated from the adults, or dinnertime was so miserable I’d opt to eat alone. It was either literally get yelled at for breathing or something else that is considered normal to anyone. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my book, Unheard:

“Since dinnertime is dreadful, I hate evenings. Even when I am starving, I prefer eating by myself. I hate looking at him and watching him sit with his head tilted down towards the plate and scraping the food from his fork into his mouth without ever looking up. I try to speak and make normal conversation; he makes a point to say something to upset my stomach or tells me to shut up and eat. He finishes his food, gets up without excusing or cleaning up after himself, trots into the living room, lights a smelly cigarette, watches TV, and drinks beer. I guess he thinks it was a woman’s job to keep quiet and clean up after him.”

When something is “normal” for a child, they don’t always realize it’s not normal or healthy as an adult. I knew that what was happening to me didn’t feel right, especially when my friends did “normal” things, like eat with their families. I have never purposely separated myself from eating with others as an adult; it’s just that I don’t exactly have a choice when I’m single.

My daughter visited me a couple of weekends ago, and for the first time in a while, I cooked up a delicious shrimp and pasta dish. It was the first time I’d cooked a meal for anyone other than myself in months, and it was nice to share. When I was regularly dating, I cooked more than I was taken out, and I was perfectly happy with that, because I was happy. I realize that some of my happiest times are when I’m cooking and sharing meals with others (not being expected to, but wanting to), and that hasn’t happened regularly in two and a half years. (If you follow my blog, you’ll probably guess with whom.) I’ve also been more depressed in that two and a half years than ever, and I eat alone almost 100% of the time.

I try to take myself out to eat for lunch or dinner just to be in a social outing, even if I’m out alone. However, eating out gets expensive, and I feel that I can cook better than what is served in most restaurants. Plus, I love sharing my culinary skills with others. Like the studies have shown, it’s the socialization that I’ve been missing at mealtime and probably another reason my friends keep telling me I need a boyfriend. *eyeroll*

How I Lost My Virginity

Seeing the patterns of sexual abuse…

Shut My Mouth

This is probably going to be somewhat disturbing to some readers, so this is fair warning.

When I was 16, I worked with a guy that went to my school. For about a year he begged me to date him, but I wasn’t interested. Eventually, I gave in to him and he was my “first love” so to speak. He had a car, so we’d sneak off and park in wooded areas or parks to make out and have sex.

One night when I was babysitting he came to the house. We were on the living room floor (the person I was babysitting for was in her room asleep by then) making out. He was acting like an asshole, which was typical of him anyway, but here’s where this gets disturbing… All of the times I thought we were having sex, he wasn’t actually inside of me. I think maybe the…

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Snail Slime and Self-Protection

A few weeks ago, a snail was crawling up the window of my door, which was an unusual thing to see. A big believer of signs and symbols, I looked up the meaning of the snail. It turns out that I learned something new – snails have two different types of slime; one type is for movement, and the other is for protection… and snails secrete a substance to create their own shell.

I had to reflect on this snail discovery, as I am often told that I’m very guarded. When I’m in a new place or around new people, I typically observe; it’s important to know my surroundings before participating. Maybe that’s why a lot of people initially think that I’m quiet and guarded when they first meet me; this has been said to me since I was a child. I never understood what people meant, because I feel that I’m friendly and cordial with people. I suppose being guarded had to do with my upbringing of always having to protect myself from one thing or another. If you’ve been a follower long enough and/or read my books, you’ll understand that statement (or you can read excerpts here).

I feel that the snail was a sign for me to watch myself, my surroundings and the things that I was doing. I was drinking too much over the holidays and not protecting myself from sickness and toxic, slimy people. In the end, all of it literally made me ill. It was a sign to move on, move away from these people and protect not only my physical body, but my emotional and mental state. I realize snail slime is the only slime I need in my life.

Acceptance After Being Ghosted

The other day I posted about the other four stages of grief after being ghosted by someone in a close dating relationship. There were a few times I felt I had come to the acceptance stage, but I was alternating between all of the stages randomly. I would think to myself, I’m over it; he’s a jerk, and then something would toss me right back to a different stage. I’d be angry at the fact that he’s meeting other women and dating and having fun, but I was left standing alone without answers to my heartbreak and had a miserable dating life. (I was also angry when one of his family members suggested that I must not have ever had anyone break up with me before, since I had these feelings. I corrected them by reminding them I was ghosted without answers.) I have come to some other realizations about this person that have helped me to enter the stage of acceptance.

It’s always helpful to get over someone by dating another person, however, the options I had been presented were pretty grim. Prior to meeting OC, a close friend had unexpectedly passed away, and during my mourning period (which lasted about a year), I jumped into a two-month toxic relationship with someone 18 years younger. I met OC about three or four months after that relationship ended. I was looking to date, but only looking for friends and activity partners, so what I felt with him was completely unexpected. Looking back, I feel that I was probably still vulnerable to opening myself up to injured souls, because I was also one of them.

Taking accountability for myself, I probably ignored a lot of red flags – the first of which was that OC’s online dating profile stated he was single. However, he was still technically a married man (verified separated for two years at that point) and still living in the same house with his wife. I broke my own rule by continuing a relationship with him, because my rule is to date someone that has been single (not separated) for at least a year, preferably longer. When I initially met him, he’d told me about another woman he’d been on a few dates with and was texting him… but according to him, he was ignoring her. I’d informed him that I only date one person at a time, and I expect the same in a partner and that he needs to tell this woman that he’s seeing someone else, to not just ignore her. I don’t know what he did, but now I suspect he ghosted her as well. Or perhaps he ghosts women, then shows up randomly when he thinks it’s okay and allow him back into their lives again… the same way he did to me six months later when he unblocked me and liked my social media posts – and still continues to this day!

I specifically remember a couple of times him mentioning things to me that seemed off. For example, even though he still claimed to be getting divorced, he was adamant about staying in their home and was building a separate entrance for himself. I later learned that during the time they supposedly separated, they’d purchased the house together, which didn’t fit the divorce story he was giving me. He would spend the night at my house most nights and head home first thing in the morning; we never spent any mornings together – just afternoons and nights. I had suspected he’d been hiding something or bending the truth, but I never actually found out. He also had a tattoo of a ball and chain along with his wife’s name on the front of his hip. When I asked if he was planning to cover it up, he became flustered as if I’d asked him to chop off his balls. He replied,  “Why? No one will see it.” Seriously? I told him I see it, and if he dates other women, they’re going to see it as well. I suspect he never covered it up, and he probably never will. (I wonder what his new girlfriend thinks of his wife’s name when she’s giving him a blowjob?) He’d say random things that didn’t make sense to me at the time. For example, one time he told me he was selfish and immature, but I hadn’t seen that side of him, so I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. What he’d presented to me in his actions was opposite of what he said in so many ways.

Something wasn’t right, but I blamed it on my own insecurities. I developed a lot of anxiety when I didn’t hear from him, especially that last week prior to him ghosting me. Perhaps he was lying to me, perhaps it was something else, but I ignored my gut feelings. The problem I have with myself is I am determined to get to the bottom of things, to find out the truth, and when I can’t pinpoint what isn’t right, I continue with a relationship until I do find out. He claimed to be “so busy” with his work, but right after he ghosted me, he’d pass me at the beach every single day, so I felt he was using that as an excuse.

Knowing OC’s history of 30+ years being raised in and then leaving a cult religion whose manipulative members suddenly cut off their own children for not being followers, I am aware that this has been ingrained into his system since he was a child, so it is probably easy for him to act this way without any regard for my feelings. Not that it’s right by any means, but what else can I tell myself when I have no other explanation? I also realize, no matter how sweet he was to me while we were together, he is a very wounded and disturbed soul that may not feel anything at all. He lied to me and broke promises, especially when he knew I was recovering after a divorce and promised me he wouldn’t break my heart.  I tell myself he was fake and manipulated my feelings and trust for his own selfish purposes, and everything about the relationship was as fake as Dirty John, because genuine people do not develop close intense relationships only to treat others with such disdain. I wish I could have moved on when it all went down; I wanted nothing more than those awful feelings to go away. I look at him now and think I can do so much better than him.

The stage of acceptance is the beginning of my healing process, because I am ready to meet my next long-term relationship.