By Nellie Wilson
What kind of touch did you most enjoy or most want as a little kid?
I’m talking about between infancy to around five years old. Do you remember any of that time in your life and what kind of touch you received? Maybe you had really affectionate family members and received lots of touch like hugs and snuggles, back scratches, or having your hair stroked. Maybe your childhood was lacking in affection and touch was rare or absent or worse. We all have early experiences of touch that can shape our likes and desires for physical connection or difficulties with it as adults.
Was there a time you remember when touch became less frequent or became more equated with sex/seen as less appropriate to receive or share? Perhaps you continued to have a healthy affectionate relationship with touch, but many of us started receiving cultural messages about touch that made it seem less ok to receive or share the kind of touch we enjoyed or wanted as we grew out of childhood.
Western and specifically American cultural messages about touch often equate affectionate touch between adults as being sexual or automatically leading to sex. Sexual expression is one way of sharing touch but there are so many other ways of touching that are important, and unfortunately often ignored. As adults, many of us find ourselves not receiving the sort of caring touch that children often receive. But more research is showing that touch, particularly platonic touch, is important for our well being on many levels.
Cuddlist offers a way to receive nurturing platonic touch in a safe consensual environment that can allow us to receive the kind of touch that we most enjoyed or wanted as children. I often ask clients before their first session to think of a time in their life, particularly as a kid, that they remember receiving caring touch they would like to experience again. It could be as simple as having someone hold their hand while sitting shoulder to shoulder, or having their feet rubbed. We then talk about it in session and see if its something they would like to experience again.
Sometimes clients want to dive deeper into connecting with their inner child. We may talk about what age they feel like the child part of themselves is that wants to receive care and what that would look like. Sometimes it’s not just touch that would feel supportive, it could be having me read aloud to them, sing songs, play a game, be swaddled in a blanket, or even build a blanket fort.
There is lots of space for creativity and playfulness as well as quietness and feeling whatever emotions may arise from tapping into the needs of our inner child. It is an honor for me to hold space for the vulnerability of connecting with that young part and unmet needs and desires for affection and care. I’m also there to support the client in staying connect to the adult part of their self too, to help them recognize that they can receive from both places simultaneously and give to their inner child too.
Intentionally receiving care for our inner child can be deeply affirming and healing when done in a safe, consensual, and conscientious way. Nurturing our inner child can bring more peace and balance to our adult lives. Accessing our inner child through touch in particular and playfulness can be transformative.
Give yourself permission to find ways of receiving the affectionate touch that your inner child wants and needs! If you’re interested in learning more about me, you can check out my profile.
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