People express their love in different ways. Some like to use words, others like to do stuff for their beloved, like the dishes; a third likes to give things, like flowers or diamonds, and yet another type expresses his or her love through touch. To me touch is the most basic way of expressing and experiencing love (and love letters). If you buy me a gift or do something for me, I might not recognize you love me.
It has always been like this. As a little girl my mother called me ‘monkey baby’, because the best place I knew was on her back, with my arms tightly around her neck.
She knew that and she allowed it – I still love her for that. When I got older my mother taught me not to touch strangers. Usually I would run out the door when the postman came, in order to give him a big hug. That was not allowed anymore, as soon as I turned 4. This was the beginning of learning to hold back my touch, to not share my joy, love and affection too abundantly, because apparently, that was not done.
Years later I entered puberty. Touch then became strangely connected to sex.
It created a lot of confusion in me. If I put my hand on a man’s knee, or hugged him, or smelled his hair, or touched him in any physical way, it would be understood as if I wanted to have sex with him – which was hardly ever the case! ‘You are giving the wrong signals’, I was told. So, I withdrew even more, and over the years I touched other people, especially men, less and less.
Of course, I chose to become a masseuse, because I still knew how important touch was to me and others.
Like this I could still share my love, my energy, through touch, without the confusion and awkwardness of being misunderstood. However, being a professional masseuse is very different from just being spontaneous. It’s a one-way street. I give, the client receives. I still would feel deprived of touch at times, especially after my kids grew up, when I didn’t have a lover or close friends nearby, or when there were no dogs around to play and cuddle with.
How lucky I was to join the DEEP team last week: a group of 15 men and women, holding space for more than 50 participants, during a retreat in Bordeaux in France.
We were all gathered in an old, majestic castle, surrounded by vineyards and a massive garden. The retreat was all about opening the heart, opening up to others, allowing to be touched, with mutual consent and integrity, while feeling, right there and then, what this did to you. We used music, dance, voice, meditation, sharing, massage and ceremony. It was intense, wonderful, challenging and fun.
One day during the retreat, on a warm summer evening, I had just finished work – I had given 3 massages; profound, powerful, healing massages – and felt super tired.
That evening there was a sound healing concert with Elie, one of our team members. The concert had already begun and it was slowly getting dark. I considered just going to bed, but I really wanted to hear Elie play, so I went anyway.
When I came into the hall, everybody was laying on the floor on blankets, mats and cushions. It looked super cosy.
I walked around a bit, trying not to disturb, not sure where I would sit, and then I saw my DEEP team – or at least a few of them. When they saw me they immediately made space for me, and I happily joined them. I sank in a heap and immediately I felt a hand stroking my hair, an arm on my back and a leg over mine. I felt absolutely safe in this loving embrace. I didn’t even realize it until that moment, but in the past few days I had grown close to these people. I felt like a puppy in a litter with other puppies. There was no sexual tension, no hidden agenda, no nothing. I could just lay down there with them, listen to the music, let the energy flow through me and feel totally safe, protected and cared for. It was absolutely blissful.
I realized there and then that I had come back to my childhood.
I remembered the joy of sharing love on a physical level through cuddling, touching and stroking, while knowing that you are fully accepted as you are, that there are no conditions. That moment there was no separation, there was just trust, relaxation, joy and playfulness. And it reminded me: Yes, this is our natural state. This is how it is supposed to be. This is what you sometimes see in native communities, and sometimes during festivals and retreats: people return to their natural state, they no longer worry about how they look like, or what the other person wants from them, or what they should do next. It all flows naturally.
This is life, and I am grateful to be part of it.