My fear of being touched

Most people who know me, know about my touch aversion. I don’t think everyone understands how bad it can get sometimes.

I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t always hate being touched. I loved cuddles with my parents as a child. My Mum, even created a special time once a week when we would snuggle upon the couch with a special treat, usually a chocolate chip muffin, and watch a film. We called it “Cuddle Time” original right?

But I was never a particularly “huggy” person outwith my immediate family. In school I was friends with a girl who liked to greet everyone with a cuddle every morning. Every morning I told her I didn’t want a hug. I sounded like a bit of a bitch (sorry Kadee) but I just didn’t want it.

More recently, maybe since I fell pregnant with Connie. I’ve begun to really hate being touched by people who aren’t immediate family or very close friends.

At first I just felt really uncomfortable if someone touched me. After having Angus it got much worse. I ended up having an emergency section with him. As sections go it probably wasn’t that bad, but to me it was my worst nightmare. There we so many people in the operating theatre, prodding me, poking me, asking me questions and touching me. I think this made my touch phobia much worse.

I’m okay with the kids, although I do clam up if they take me by surprise when I’m doing the dishes (shut up Daniel, I DO do the dishes sometimes) or something. My relationship with Daniel is fantastic. I can tell him when I’m feeling a bit wobbly, he doesn’t take offence, he just offers me a cup of tea and some alone time to read my book or something – he’s a good egg that one.

The people I work closely with know not to touch me. I was quite rude to poor Iain though. When I told him joke, he bent over laughing (I’m hilarious, obviously) and touched my arm. I went form laughing to scared, anxious and angry. I snapped at him. Poor guy didn’t know what to think. Afterwards I had to explain that it wasn’t just him, it was everyone, sometimes even my Mum. Sorry again Iain.

It’s even worse with customers. They’re complete strangers. I generally don’t expect they’re going to touch me. I feel bad because I think I’ve offended a couple of people with my reaction to their touch. It’s difficult not to notice someone clamming up, moving away and hyperventilating. If that’s you I’m sorry.

Somehow I seem to be able to cope with skating. I don’t really know how that works. I think because I always know when I’m going to be skating I can psyche myself up for it. I’ve done synchro for so long that jumping into shoulder hold is like second nature to me. I’ve skated with other people more times than I’ve had hot dinners. I do get a little panicky but I can usually deal with it.

There was one day when Angus was a few months old. We went to Hobbycraft, to get supplies to make the kids some scrapbooks. I was waiting in the queue, something that already made me feel quite uncomfortable, when the lady behind me edged closer. She didn’t stop and I could feel my chest tightening. It was as if she thought standing closer to me would mean she’d get served quicker. I was stuck. I was as close to the woman in front as I could handle. However, Mrs Snuggles behind me kept creeping ever closer.

I began to hyperventilate. I could feel myself starting to cry. Thankfully Daniel had noticed something was wrong and was making his way over. I shoved my stuff into his hands and left the shop. The minute escaped, I had a full blown panic attack. Daniel calmed me down when he came out. I couldn’t drive home though, and I cried the entire way. All because someone got too close in a line.

That’s when I realised this phobia – if that’s what you call it – had gotten out of hand. I spoke to my Mum. She encouraged me to see my doctor. I haven’t done that, although I’m not ruling it out. I felt so much better after telling my Mum, I told a few more people. They knew about it before but hadn’t realised how bad it had started to affect me.

I laugh about it. It’s funny, sort of. If i don’t laugh, I’ll get embarrassed and upset and probably never want to leave the house. So I’ll stick with making a joke about it. Most people laugh with me, they’re the good eggs. Some people laugh at me. You can tell the difference.

I’ve Googled it a bit and found that it is called Haphephobia. I’m not sure I’d go all the way as to say I have Haphephobia. From what I’ve read it sounds very extreme.

It says it’s caused by a traumatic event or in some cases its hereditary, passed down from generation to generation. I fall into neither of these categories. Although as I said it did get much worse after my section. If that can be classed as a traumatic event?

I’m not planning going to the doctor about it right now. I’ve found talking to friends and family about it has helped immensely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to start telling random folk in the street – they might touch me – but telling friends and family, and now you has made a big difference.

If anyone else has had/is having similar experiences I’d love to hear from you. What you’ve found has helped, what you think caused it and if you went to see a doctor.

So just a heads up, next time we meet, don’t touch me. Unless you’re Gerard Butler. I’m willing to die a thousand deaths for that.


About Beth Mackintosh

Mum of two, well, three if you count the man child. Weddings, skating competitions and the smell of a new book 👌🏼
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