The Top Hat
Somehow tonight I started thinking about where physical touch went weird for me. I love it, I crave hugs, but I’m afraid of it. I’m afraid that it will somehow turn sexual (not physically just my stupid brain) – even if I’m not remotely attracted to the person. I have a select few people who I feel comfortable hugging without worrying about that. I’m learning to be proactive and initiate or at least ask for a hug. It helps to fill in a bit of that hollow void that I frequently reference.
How did I get this way?
I must have been somewhere between fifth and seventh grade. I remember walking with my mom at a strip mall. I was taking her out to get coffee and dessert for Mother’s Day at a little joint called The Top Hat. It was a beautiful spring day and I remember being so happy to get to spend time with my mom doing something other than watching tv or playing cards. I reached out and wanted to hold her hand as we walked and she told me “No, people might think we’re lesbians.”
I was already a weird kid with messed up social skills, but with that statement I was filled with self-doubt, self-hatred, I became disconnected, and more awkward.
I can only assume (with adult perspective) that she was kidding seeing as she’s more than 30 years older than I am and no one in their right mind would think an 11 or 12-year-old was dating a 40+ woman. I also now with this memory recall all the times I’ve seen mothers and daughters around that age holding hands and the thought runs through my head “don’t they care that they may look gay?”… I never knew why I thought that… I just thought I was more twisted than I let myself believe.
I could be completely wrong, but maybe this is what made me equate touch (even totally healthy) with sexuality. I’m not saying one comment did that, nor am I trying to put the blame on my mother. However, this is just one memory, there is a lifetime’s worth of comments and implications that built this inside of me (both by my mom and others).
But seriously, who says that to their kid?