Touch Starved

Touch Starved

Touch starvation is actually a thing. The term for it that’s emerging in medical/psych circles is “skin hunger”. We as humans are meant to be much more social- and especially physically social - than we actually are, and most North Americans in particular are often touch starved because the casual, platonic contact that often happens between friends in other places just. Does not happen here.

It stops for so many of us “boys” when we’re pretty young. There’s this point where touch and care and comfort is either labeled creepy or gay.

Especially gay.

Wow that’s a thing that comes with almost instant corrective measures.

And it did with me.

But I wasn’t gay.

I was and am transgender.

And that comes with a whole other level of starvation.

You either get nothing and hatred for even putting it out there…”hold me, make me feel safe, love me...please…”

Or you get the attention that you really don’t want.

Seriously...chasers and perverts come out in droves. Especially if you’re transitioning and are pre-op.

And so, so many of us fall for that attention because we are so lonely in a literally hurtful and starved way we need contact of some kind or any kind.

And literally that kind of desperation if you’re a trans woman can get you hurt.

Killed sometimes.

That’s if you don’t do it yourself.

There’s a really Puritan idea that’s pervaded our culture, that touch and sex are inherently linked, and it’s doing us a massive disservice. Touch is incredibly important for humans- hugs reduce blood pressure, cuddling releases oxytocin, and babies will straight up DIE without being touched enough because the stimulation releases hormones that are integral to their healthy development.

And trust me...no amount of booze or drugs helps either.

Been there and done that.

Sold off the t-shirt to pay off my tick….that’s a street bill owed.

And I really wish I was just joking.

Some of us feel we’re too damaged to love.

And life and society loves to show us that so much of the time doesn’t it?

Some of find something, the few rare ones find someone.

A lot of us make due...papering, trading in sensations for contact but that only works so much. Then there’s online and social media and we find connections there but they’re not face to face, we’re not getting to be with them.

And that hurts.

Hurts so much sometimes too when you think about it too much.

There’s friends that you get so close with that when you see them hurting on the screen you want to be there...be soothing, be present, just...just to do something.

And then there’s the reverse of that when there’s someone that sees you hurting gets you so much and you ache to be there with them so they make it stop.

And they’re literally, literally worlds away.

All of this.

All of this all adds up and drags some of us down.

And did with me.

Another botched date...another please, please don’t be literal human garbage and yeah it turned out to be another pail of crap.

Which was just too much.

She met me at Johnstone’s pub an cozy little sort of place and it’s usually a nice place to go and I was nervous. Nervous and scared because well passing...yeah well that’s like some solve for X equation thing friends will tell you you look fine, you’re beautiful.

Seriously i do love all of you for that when you say that stuff but there are times when you could hear it everyday and it won’t sink in.

Katelynn took one look at me when she figured out where I was sitting and she seen all of me for the real in person first time.

And I could literally read the eeew...and oh fuck no all over her face.

It was painful, the date...the part of a date...she got her phone call out on her cell and there was an “emergency” and she left.

And when I checked my phone all of her was gone...deleted...unfriended...blocked.

Erased.

And I wished, wish so fucking bad that she’d finish the job somehow.

It took everything to not break into a million pieces to pay the bill and leave.

I made it to my car and everything came up.

I fell to the parking lot asphalt broke a heel doing it as I just lost the strength to keep on my feet and i’m not one of those almost fantasy online skinny transwomen. I never started early and i wasn’t this fictional petite lad.

Five ten and a hundred and seventy and that’s after an obscene amount of dieting and torture.

I don’t swoon and fall.

I ugly cry and thump.

And have enough force to break off a heel.

And tear my stockings.

Which sends me over the edge right between anger at having taken all the time to shave my legs and get them on and how much they’re a pain in the ass too and itchy sometimes...and frustration all pouring into the hurt.

Which compounds as people clock me as trans and no one comes to help and even asks if I’m okay.

Which turns into a ball of hurt in my gut and more pain.

I’ll be honest.

I don’t know how I didn’t drive off into something or off of something.

Actually I do.

There was a story a trans story I read online about a british cop who had like PTSD issues and there was this whole scene where she talked really point blank about coming onto a car wreck.

I don’t have anyone to mourn me that are anywhere close, and even though I care so much about those out there it’s a close thing for me to just not and stop.

So yeah somehow I made it home, somehow I always make it home.

Yay me.

And after Katelynn there was no one.

Just me and my starvation.

And then starvation becomes almost normal.

Isolation a habit.

I worked and it was work too not fun...I worked at an insurance connected autobody shop and I sand, primer and paint cars. I started transitioning while I was working there and they even fired me once.

Too bad for them that I’m actually good at my job, I’ve been doing it right out of trade school right after high school.

And the guys they had hired to replace me sucked.

So the guy who owned the place called me and asked me to come back at two dollars more and fired the manager who canned me for being trans.

The next guy’s not much better but he leaves me alone, really alone for the most part and I spend my days in goggles and a breather mask and coveralls and don’t really have much to do with the guys at the shop.

It’s work.

And life is work and home and sometimes on the computer.

And after some shitty neighbors I moved to an older part of town with older houses and not like classy older but fifties older and middle class to lower and kinda falling apart.

It’s mostly me and some poor immigrant families and seniors.

It’s safer.

No one writes tranny and other stuff on my siding anymore.

And life went on the downward spiral.

The the old lady next door passed away.

*And three weeks later a moving van was here. (Current time.)

Well there and they hadn’t even cleaned out the old lady’s things.

I suppose she had no one either.

There was a woman moving next door she came in a cab and met the movers in the front yard.

And the moving guys were pretty cheap and kind of assholes, they just sort of unloaded things where they could.

And the woman next door looked lost.

I watched through my windows and she was about my age and she was skinny and her clothes looked like they were for someone that was bigger.

Like she lost weight and I could tell she did.

She’d been sick.

The shaved head gave it away.

Goddammit she looked like she was going to cry.

Overwhelmed and outnumbered hard by the things that she had in front of her.

Part of me just wanted to close my curtains and to just fall back.

And then she started crying.

Dammit.

Dammit Dawn...just Dammit.

I put on my work boots and grabbed some gloves and went next door.

“Hello…”

She jumped and she looked at me and she stared.

I was expecting any reaction.

She wiped at her eyes and blushed. “Uhm...hello...sorry...I’m a mess...Hi I’m Jen.”

“I’m Dawn, I’m your neighbor.”

She looked at the pile of furniture and boxes and she gestured with that sort of body language that people have when things are right on the edge still...kinda normal, kinda shaky, halfway to bawling again. (Sniffle.) “God sorry about the mess, I just moved here.”

“I saw the truck and them be a bunch of jackasses.”

She nodded. “Assholes….I’m never hiring them again.”

“Yeah...don’t blame you there.”

She looked at me again and then at the pile and she really looked like she didn’t know what to do.

“Want some help?”

She looked at me...looked like she was going to cry and her hand went up and rubbed at the fuzz of the hair that she had there. “Really?”

I nod. “Sure I don’t work weekends, it’s not a big deal.”

(Sniffle.) “I don’t know you...it’s kind of a big deal.”

“Are you sure you want the help? I mean I am a stranger.”

(Sniffle.) “Dammit...sorry, sorry...it’s just that...ever since…” she gestured at herself… “Ever since I been sick I just kinda became invisible.”

“Ouch…” I swallow some of my own stuff, hurt and fear of her, of sharing and gesture at myself. “I get the feeling invisible thing...when I’m not too visible.”

She stares at me again a few seconds and she wipes at her eyes again. “I get that too, before I went into remission I was everyone’s cause de jour when I was going to die. Now I’m just recovering and broke past broke and no one wants to be around my problems because….”

“Because you life sucks and you’re done with making nice and saying it’s not and shit’s fine?”

She smiles through the upsetness. (Sniffle.) “Ex-fuckingzactly...I stopped saying stuff was good or fine.”..... (Sniffle.) “That upset people and well.”

“Found out who was willing to stay.” I grimace, I’m familiar with that.

“Yeah, which was literally no one.”

I look at her. “No family?”

“None worth talking about. Aunt Gertie was it really and I wasn’t expecting this.”

“She left you the house?”

“Yeah god bless her, she knew that my bills literally foreclosed and took everything else.”

I nod. “She sounded okay, I never even knew her name...sorry.”

She nodded. “That’s okay. I only knew her like on holidays until I got sick and she just sort of stepped up and helped. I don’t even know why really she was my grandmother’s sister.”

I nod and look at the house. “Well maybe we should go inside and see what we have to do?”

(Sniffle.) “Yeah, sorry about that Dawn.”

She fished out her keys and we went inside and it was actually nowhere as bad as it could have been. Way out of date with decor and things from the fifties and some of it was still pretty okay like the kitchen with the big counter and diamond cross checked frosted glass cupboards and it was real wood too and the old blue-green aqua ceramic tile backsplash and old sink, fridge, and other things.

The fridge was the problem, well not bad but bad...the food was still in there and as soon as we opened the door Jen turned an I’m still not healthy green and ran out the back porch and she was sick.

I went out and...and fought back all the stuff telling me it was wrong to reach out and I held her steady and rubbed her back as she puked.

And it wasn’t pretty...coughing and tears and her nose filling up and all that real life stuff.

Jen actually cried and she shook as some anger flashed up and out of her. (Sniffle-Snort-cough-spit….).... “Goddamit! I hate that! I hate this!”

I rub her back.

She looks at me again. (Sniffle.) “Sorry, jesus you must think I’m a psycho.”

I smile a little. “It’s okay I get it.”

“I’m just so tired of being sick! I’m so tired of people having to do all these things for me and then just getting sick themselves of me….”

I look at her. “I said it’s okay Jen, it’s okay to be angry and to hate the fuck out of being sick. I get it, I’m trans and there are days when I can’t stand just about everything about me, gender dysphoria sucks ass. I get it, I hate it too and I hate feeling that way when it hits me...like I know why I’m hating myself when it hits and I still just get angry and hate hating myself…”

I’ve never said that to anyone in real life.

Always in chat or online.

She wipes her mouth and she’s looking at me. “Ouch...I...I’ve never met a transgender person before….that’s gotta suck.”

I...I blush and sort of shrug which I fucking hate doing because of my man-shoulders and heat floods my face.

“..........Yeah.” I’d say more but I’m swallowing the hard lump in my throat.

We end up taking a long breath together and she coughs some.

I look at her. “Well there’s one thing this whole episode did for you.”

(Cough) “What’s that?”

“You definitely need your lawn mowed.”

She laugh snorts and she holds her head at that. “Ow…”

We actually share a laugh at that.

Okay that, that felt like forever.

Then we head inside and start to look through everything.

I clean out the fridge and the other stuff that was gross and growing.

Thankfully she wasn’t a pack rat or a hoarder and there were no cats or pets.

Lots and lots of cheap romance books. You know like those Harlequin Romance books and writers like that.

And a lot of little-things the old and cute little things and they’re on like a lot of shelves and there’s more in boxes too.

We move a lot of her boxes into the dining room and end up stacking things there and then bringing the few bits of furniture she had in as well. Other than her bed and a few appliances there wasn’t too much.

But it still took a long time.

Jen’s still not well really and definitely not well enough to do this kind of stuff.

And once we get it all inside she looks ready to collapse.

“You need to rest, when was the last time you slept or ate?”

She looks at me and she actually had to take a minute and think.

“Food this morning and sleep...well it’s been...I don’t know a few hours last night on the train.”

I roll my eyes. “Good lord woman sit I’m going to order something in.”

She looks at me. “Dawn you don’t have to...I can’t pay you back.”

I had my phone out and I’m staring at her and frowning.

“Yes, yes I do, I’m tired and you’re exhausted and you’re recovering and you know I’m trans and you haven’t looked at me like I’m some kind of freak or a pervert and actually treated me like I’m...like I’m a…”

I’m crying.

I’m crying because as I’m saying it the fact that someone has actually been face to face with me and treating me like an actual human being has me crying.

Jen walks over...well it’s somewhere between a mini-sprint and falling into me and she hugs me.

She hugs me tight in this almost too strong for her size death grip. “Like you’re a person?”

She...Jen doesn’t let go either, she doesn’t even let up she just buries her face even into my dirty top.

“Dawn...Thank’s.”

I swallow this super hard lump that feels like I’m choking. “.......Okay…..”

“Dawn?”

(Sniffle-choke.)..... “Yeah……?”

“I’m sorry it took so long….so long for someone to be here.”

And that just breaks me...We actually slide together down onto the floor and I’m shaking, shaking and I’m bawling and she won’t let go.

I cry myself to sleep in her arms even though I shouldn’t because she’s sick because she said the most miraculous thing.

(Sniffle-sob.) “It’s okay Dawn, I’m not going anywhere….I got you.”



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