My Struggle with being “Touched Out” in Motherhood
No one truly prepares us for the challenges we’ll face in motherhood. The sleep deprivation. Anxiety. Constantly worrying if we’re doing a good enough job. Always feeling as though society is watching our every move, ready to jump at the opportunity to critique us. Despite all of these things, my biggest struggle lately has been with something that’s not frequently discussed: being overstimulated.
I was never one that needed silence. I’d sleep with the TV on. I grew up in a house in which my mom’s boyfriend would play video games ridiculously loud. My bedroom and the den shared a wall, so I got used to falling asleep despite the chaos. Fast forward 10 years, there are days when I absolutely have to sit in silence to calm my mind.
So where does this struggle come from? I think it began with my horrible struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety with my first born. There were nights when this colicky, miserable baby would scream for hours. Unrelenting. She never stopped. It was brutal. She had to be held constantly. As bad as I know it was, I literally rode in the back seat with her for months and held her. When we put her in the car seat, she’d literally scream until she threw up. Of course, with my anxiety struggles, I was terrified she’d aspirate and die of pneumonia. So, my husband drove everywhere, and I sat in the backseat. It was beyond alienating as I was terrified to leave the house alone.
My postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression were much better with baby number two. However, I have a very vivid memory of the moment that being physically touched made my skin crawl. I was breastfeeding Mia and I had this overwhelming sensation of disgust. I was tired of my body not belonging to me. If I wasn’t breastfeeding the baby, Maddie was all over me. If Maddie wasn’t all over me, my husband was attempting to be all over me. If I was away from all 3 of them at work, I was pumping for the baby. It was awful for me. So, I stopped breastfeeding at 4 months to combat this issue. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
As time went on, noise became a horrible trigger for my anxiety. With two small children, there is always noise! They’re screaming and playing together, the tablet is going while they’re watching Froze for the 10th time. Of course, they’re blaring out “Let It Go” while my husband is attempting to talk me about his work place drama. Unfortunately, my response is typically out of frustration and anger. I lash out for the girls to be quiet, to turn off the movie and play quietly. Yeah, right. It’s just all too much for me. But why?
So not only does this issue make me short with the kids, but it has caused some major issues in my marriage. My disdain for touch isn’t just for my kids, but my husband too. Most days, I’d rather sit in a quiet room alone on Pinterest than to converse with him about our days. He tends to take this personal, but why wouldn’t he? How do you explain that you don’t want anyone to touch you, not just him. It’s been rough.
So what do I do? This isn’t one of those blog posts where I tell you how I have overcome. This is one in which I’m just sharing my struggles in hopes that someone else that is going through it will have someone to relate to. So for now, I find myself forcing intimacy, whether it’s simply holding hands or more. I stay up late to spend time with my husband, whether it’s just watching TV or playing video games instead of staying to myself. But maybe these small, slow changes aren’t enough for someone who is made to crave physical touch?
Have you dealt with anything similar? Do you know of anyone who has overcome anything like this? Did it take medications or therapy? I’d love to overcome and move on to being happy and healthy. Let’s discuss!