A whiff of laundry detergent in the airbnb bedroom made me think of my ex. The one who read to me and was abusive. I felt unsafe and almost dizzy with uncertainty, to smell it.
There are many memories I can have, about him. But my mind went to a memory about youth. He used to look at me and say, “You’re getting younger.”
Then he would smile. We would be standing in the kitchen. I kind of liked him looking at me–generally, I felt under-seen. So the attention felt good. He liked to see me getting younger; he was happy, like my backwards-aging was due to him. Something he could credit himself for.
“I’m not so sure that’s a good thing,” I said. “I like aging. It seems ok, to me.”
I want to become an old woman, one day–that’s my goal. Moving toward maturity feels right: ripe and comfortable in myself. Wrinkles seem ok. My hair is supposed to turn gray–that’s the progress of life.
“No, you’re getting younger,” he would say. Seemed he believed in the cult of youth–obviously, youth was superior.
I tried to enjoy his view. Maybe he was right, and I was getting younger.
That was part of the problem–I considered his world view superior to mine. He saw magic all around, and I wanted to see it too. I could believe my usual opinions when I was alone. Being near him, I had the goal of learning from him. So I would give a ton of weight to his ideas, and set mine aside.
At first, that seemed ok. I was enchanted by his brilliance and difference. The sci-fi books he read out loud to me enriched my life. His touch enriched my life too–holding hands, kisses, long hugs that felt deeply sustaining.
But as time passed, he was requiring more and more that I agree with him. I felt confined to a smaller and smaller area, in what I could believe. Painted into a corner.
He was creepy! He was the boss of the relationship. We inched toward him controlling everything.
Long ago I smoked cigarettes, but other than that, I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol. I ponder addiction, as it runs in my family. Drug overdose has killed my relatives.
Some say food can be an addiction, and some might assume that I’m a “food addict,” as my body is very large. Truth is, there are many ways to be fat. I’ve never binged or had an extreme diet.
The only thing besides cigarettes and maybe chocolate, that I’d say I’ve been addicted to, is touch. I’ve been a touch addict, maybe–or addicted to the love hormone oxytocin. I seem extra susceptible to it, like the reward pathway in my brain for touch is hyper-sensitive.
It’s made me do horrible things, such as endanger my own life and the life of my spouse, as I remained connected to this ex I loved, who turned nasty.
This ex I’m talking about kept in control of me and the relationship with touch. I remember first meeting him, and how charmed I was, that touched me a lot. He was a massage therapist, and I liked how he’d grab my shoulders and upper arms, massaging them. I would glow with joy.
Normally I need consent–words that are explicit and honest. But the way he violated my boundaries felt mostly nice. He didn’t ask; he touched.
I admired the way he operated with different givens. I was hungry for social interactions that were not confined by norms, anxiety, and unnecessary rules. His physicality was refreshing.
He presented as a hippie: long hair, tiedye, mala, smiles, weed. He liked meditation, Eastern religion, plants, and diy. But he was not a chill person. He was a control freak, I guess. Or some kind of harmful outlier such as sociopath or narcissist. I’m not really up on my types of abusers.
My therapist suggested Love Bomber. She printed out articles from the internet for me. (This was before covid, when I went to her actual office.) I would take the papers from her and not read them.
It hurt to hear what my therapist said, because I wanted this ex to be Good. I wanted the problems to be on me, so I could fix my behavior and have a happy relationship. Believing her was a struggle, but part of me knew she was right.
His behavior was red flags. The love bombing was part of an abuse cycle, a controlling tactic. The way he was a boundary-violating massage therapist and I was an easily charmed touch addict was a match made in hell.
So glad I got out of that. Thank you for the friends and family who advised me to walk away, and supported me as the ex harassed and stalked me, when I finally broke up with him the last time.
I want to know myself and be honest that touch is a weakness of mine. Being a touch addict makes me vulnerable. I love myself even as a touch addict and want to be who I am. It’s ok to respond a lot to touch, but I need to see who’s touching me for what purposes, and try to stay smart about it.
Another weakness of mine is social differences. I’m hungry for choices. The standard path doesn’t work well for me. But that doesn’t mean I should be abused as I search for better practices.
Another weakness of mine is hippies. Here’s hoping I can stick with the good hippies and keep learning in a safe-ish way.