On the Days Anxiety Makes It Hard to Be Touched


“Is it one of those days?”

That simple question is one that can bring up a torrent of feelings. Guilt, anger, frustration, denial, guilt. Mainly guilt. “Is it one of those days?” I ask myself. But I don’t need to really ask. I know. I know because my skin feels like it’s crawling. Like a million ants are squirming underneath it, pulling at every seam, trying hard to dig their way out of me. I know because when I feel her brush against me I try not to flinch. My teeth clench together and even though it feels like weights are pulling the edges of my mouth downward, I still smile.

Remember that relative who would pinch your cheek during the holidays? That foreign, distressing touch. You grin and bear it because as a child it’s often expected of you. Your mom told you to be polite, to be welcoming. So you stood there even though you’d rather rip the skin off your cheek than let them pinch it again.

You grin and bear it as an adult because when you are looking into the eyes of the person who holds you when your world is breaking, you can’t say no. How can you possibly reject the one person who accepts you for everything you are?

Sometimes I try to lie to you. I try to pretend your touch isn’t abrasive. That I’m not wishing I was anywhere but here. That you cuddling me doesn’t put me on edge. That you touching me isn’t akin to the sound of forks scraping against a plate.

It’s such a hard road for you to navigate. On the days where my anxiety is drowning me I need you to be my safe haven. I find welcome in your arms. I find comfort and familiarity in your touch. There are days where I just need to be close to you. Where nothing feels more welcome than your fingers intertwined with mine. There are days where I apologize for “harassing” you all the time. Where my skin greedily soaks in the nearness of you and I feel almost complete.

But some months those days are far and few in between when I am navigating the choppy waters of mental illness. There are some days where anxiety draws me tighter than a guitar string, and the only sounds that come from me are sour notes.

I see your hurt in those days. I see your sadness. I see you, and I want nothing more than to comfort you, to tell you how sorry I am. I am never sorrier than the days where I hurt you because I am hurting myself.

I just want you to know, no matter how “touched” out I am, no matter how many times I can’t help but pull away… you are still the only place that’s ever felt like home.

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