May 26, 2009

Day 10 Community Support- Contact Comfort

Anyone who has taken introductory psychology is likely familiar with the wire mother experiment by Harry Harlow. An experiment which proved that the need for “contact comfort” is as integral to our well-being as food. I remember footage of the Romanian orphans, kids rocking manicly back and forth in a desperate search for comfort. The children where housed, fed, clothed, but they were not held by another human being. Not long enough anyway to prevent serious emotional damage from lack a physical love. I woke up this morning CRAVING “contact comfort”. As I brush my teeth I decided I better go find my good friend Erin. She always cuddles me, rubs my shoulders, absentmindedly strokes and squeezes my thigh as we talk, sits nice and close. I adore it.

On yesterdays blog a very astute follower commented that normal is just a statistical measure of how far something falls from something considered to be deviant. What this means is human needs and behaviours falls within spectrums. There may have been some children in those orphanages, who happened to need less contact comfort than others, and who happened to have a caregiver who needed it more. This fortuitous combination may have saved this child's soul. As for where I live on this spectrum, well I would be on the end of “touch me I dig the endorphin release!”. And so as my anonymous commenter on yesterdays entry pointed out, because of this I make the “choice” to surround myself with a “sub sample” of cuddly folk. In a number of the crews that I hang with I am the norm. Right smack dab in the middle, a scientist’s dream representing the average, just the right balance between maintaining personal space and desire to touch and be touched.

I found Erin right where I thought I would, and she fulfilled my need for contact comfort. I also got cuddles from two of my girls in bed this morning, before they went to school. I haven’t seen Chris today, but I am sure when I do he will have some snuggles for me. About an hour ago I lay on a massage table, coming up from the depths of a contact comfort induced meditation. My Mother Goddess of a friend, Pam, is the talented member of our community that I am supporting today. Supporting someone else never felt so gosh darn good! Her fingers are the human embodiment of Durga Ma:

"One who can redeem in situations of utmost distress".

My muscles were in distress, my heart still a little raw and needing skin to skin contact. She worked softly and in silence until I was hypnotized and satisfied. I feel full again, ready to now give the comfort that others desire. And this my friends is the cycle of love! Filling up and giving away, filling up and giving away, preventing the heart from becoming stagnant. My “giving away” part in the love cycle this afternoon will be taking 12 days journal #43 to Pam's house with payment for the massage. I have found that people really feel loved and honoured when they are given a journal, it is deeply satisfying to give love in this way. It is a way of taking care of me, while taking care of others. Today’s question is “How do you take care of yourself?”


  1. How do I take care of myself?

    The most extreme thing I ever did to take care of myself was nearly killing myself while mountain biking. I had slipped into a place of deep pain and hurt. I was not well. My life was crumbling around me. I took care of myself in a very extreme way...but that has always been my way.

    Now I am working to stay on top of where I am emotionally. I take care of myself: my body, my mind and my soul. I work to see where I am and what I am feeling. I take steps to provide myself with self care and also get help from others. Oh yes, and two words "Ther apy"!!

  2. I don't think I've been doing such a good job of taking care of myself in the recent past. Now I'm having to catch up. Any kind of alternative medicine and counselling. Also I noticed in the past I would take care of myself by distancing myself from other people, which might have worked at some time in the short term but now tends to cause more harm than good. As mentioned close contact with people is therapeutic, but I still often have the experience of isolation. In reality I like hugs and touching and closeness as much as anyone, and now feel more willing to confront the (perceived) risk involved. Also it semms I have to take care of myself by "taking it easy" sometimes.

  3. I go to my support group (we all take care of each other there, and it's wonderful!), I listen to music that feeds me, I try to exercise regularly, I try to be careful what I eat, I read, I make music, I sing, I go to kirtan, I relax with a glass of wine at the end of the day. Paying attention and being mindful of the little things in life that make me happy, which makes me even happier because I get satisfaction out of knowing that I'm not taking them for granted.

    These are all ways that I take care of myself.