Touch Me


Lately, my life feels like it’s been turned upside down. I moved to a new neighborhood, which feels like moving to a different state; and I have new roommates and no longer live in intentional community with Kaio. I took on a new role at Emmaus as Educational Ministries Director, which shifts my time from the men to volunteer development. There is so much to learn in this new position, so I feel like I’m constantly being thrown a curve ball. On top of that, my bike was stolen, and the wrong bed set was delivered to my apartment five different times! Plus, my friends are moving away, getting married, or having babies. Everything in my life is different, I’m struggling to adjust, and I’ve been feeling lonely and isolated from my friends and community.

Last week I went to get a haircut. I typically go to a beauty school instead of a salon, because the students cut my hair for a fraction of what other stylists cost. The risk is that I might end up with a mohawk, but the price is worth the gamble. The students also take three times longer to cut my hair than normal, so I knew to buckle in for the ride. My stylist spent the first ten minutes massaging, washing, conditioning, and rinsing my hair. I was in heaven. As she took her time measuring, cutting, and fiddling with my hair, I thought about how good it felt to be in the hands of another. It was soothing to be touched and taken care of.

The next day, my lovely roommate treated me to a manicure. I think I’ve had a total of three manicures in my entire life, so this was such a gift. The manicurist treated my nails with precision and care, and held my hands for an hour. In any other situation this would be creepy and inappropriate, but in the beauty profession it’s completely normal. It felt so good to be held; I could relax and not be in control.

As I was getting my nails done, I realized how ridiculous it was that my need for intimacy was being filled through a haircut and a manicure. Yet being touched made me feel connected and loved again, even though it was by perfect strangers. I recognized then how much I need physical touch to know that I am wanted and accepted.

This desperation within me to feel intimacy made me think of our men, whose lives have been full of use and abuse. Are they ever touched purely? Have they experienced the touch of love?

Now that I have established trust with our men, I try to intentionally show them love and acceptance through basic physical touch. I hug them and pat them on the back if they’re comfortable with it. And I wonder if that’s the only safe physical touch that many of them receive in a day.

The thought of this breaks my heart. I’ve been experiencing a temporary loneliness and isolation, but is this how our men always feel? As humans, we need physical touch to feel linked together. But how many of our men have been more wounded by touch than healed?

Our hands and bodies have the power to express both love and evil to one another. No man’s past should decide his future, and I only pray the touch of love is the future story of our men.

1 Comment
  1. Thanks for writing this Katie. It’s a really eye opening subject, as I actually don’t like to be touched because of past abuse, and your insight makes me want to be more aware of my resistance to even a kind touch.

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