It’s taken me over 20 years to understand why I am the way that I am about being touched. My reaction to being touched anywhere, even non-sexually, without it being on my terms has a cause, one you’re probably expecting by this time.
When I was in fifth grade, a bus driver touched me inappropriately.
I don’t know if you can call it molesting. It was tickling, really. Tickle torture. He tickled me even after I asked him to stop, more than once. He was in his 20s and was on the bus, training a new driver, and for some reason came and sat in the back with all the older kids, fifth and sixth graders. Mine was one of the last stops. A friend of mine was in the seat with me, she was really overweight which I think spared her from his predation. She got off the bus about 5 minutes before I did.
My parents were home when I got there, but I told them nothing. To be honest, I guess I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. His hands weren’t in my pants, and if he’d touched my chest, I wasn’t aware of it. My friend had told her mother when she got home, and her mom called mine. I remember being asked exactly what happened and told them all I could recall. No charges were filed, but I know he was restricted from driving buses from then on. Once the next year our bus with the new driver broke down, and he was the one to drive another one to us where we were stopped. I felt a bit of panic then, but my friends shielded me from his view.
Since then, I have never been able to be touched lightly on the abdomen, or really anywhere without warning, especially if a person comes up behind me. Even when M is rubbing my back, he’ll catch my side too lightly and I’ll jerk away and freeze. There’s a panic response still present.
The reason I’m revealing this now is that I’m starting to realize that even though I was married and attracted to my husband, in the not-too-distant past, I still wanted all our physical contact to be on my terms, so I’d be ready and aware of what was to come. For some reason, some of the time I was connecting M’s sexual advances with unwanted touching. Why I no longer feel like this is a mystery. I can still get the panicky feeling when I’m touched in certain ways by other people (e.g., hugs initiated by others, people who think poking someone in the stomach is funny), and I really hate seeing people tickle kids for too long.
Bottom line: Things you want to ignore about your past might be affecting you more deeply than you’d expect. Force yourself to think about the shit stuff, so you can better enjoy the awesome things.