Skin hunger

“Our profound sense of brokenness as human beings comes from the betrayal of this basic need for intimacy that the body mediates.  In a society where more people live alone and touch is increasingly eroticized, is it any wonder many of us are suffering from skin hunger?”

“… in today’s American society it is not unusual for an unmarried person to go two weeks or longer without being touched at all by another person.”

Lilian Barger
Eve’s Revenge: Women and a Spirituality of the Body

I spent this past weekend with a big group of my closest family, an annual trip to a rough cabin in northern Pennsylvania.  It’s become a tradition over the last few years that we all look forward to, and this year we had enormous fun, as we always do.

The next day, I find myself at home, writing in my usual space with no one else here, also as usual.  I appreciate having space and time to myself, but today I’m lonely.  Being alone is a good thing that I sometimes have too much of.

Today’s it’s more than simply missing having other people around.  Of 13 adults at the cabin this weekend, I am the only one unattached.  Most are married; the rest (younger cousins) are involved in committed relationships.  Only me left over.

I’ve spent a lot of years alone and independent, and mostly simply avoided feeling the lack of relationship by not thinking about it.  I wrote last week that it feels like love and abundance are available for other people, but simply don’t apply to me; this part of my life fits into that too.  Other people find love in romantic relationships, and deserve to; but that kind of love doesn’t apply to me either.  Why should it?  Boys were never interested in me when I was young, and I’ve not seen any evidence that men are interested in me now.  Just the way it is.

Over the last few months, that disregarded part of my life seems to have woken up, or at least sleeps less deeply.  Today it is awake, and I feel the ache of it.  I don’t really want to be alone.  Or rather, I don’t really want to be unloved.  If being-loved doesn’t actually apply to me, then I really wish it did.  I feel the lack more keenly than I find easy to admit.  I am skin-hungry; I want to be touched and held and to have the easy kind of affection I see other people get to have.

I don’t think it’s good to dwell on the feeling of lack, but I don’t want to deny it either.  I don’t want to pine for what I don’t have, and so close my eyes to what good things are present.  But I don’t want to escape the pain of lack and loss by pushing them away, to live unhurt by deadening the place of hurt so it can no longer feel.  Today I’m letting myself be skin-hungry, in order to acknowledge that the hunger is real.  Whether or not it’s something I can expect to have, at least for once I’ll own that I want it.


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