Why does touching/being touched make one cry harder?

Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:16 pm
I've noticed this in myself a few times. When you're feeling sad and someone touches you it seems to release so much emotion.

Today I hugged a woman I hardly know and she just sobbed and sobbed.

She walks her dog past my house every day and we usually speak.

Sometimes our dogs play together.

Today she walked past and told me she had finally encounted the "horrid neighbor" who said something mean to her (like she does to everyone who has a dog) and that it was so awful because today was the anniversary of something terribly sad in her life. (It was a heartbreaking story.)

So I hugged her.

And honestly, I could feel her sadness and her relief at letting the tears come.

When I'm feeling sad I can usually hold things together pretty well until someone touches me.

What is it about touching, even when it's someone you don't really know well, that helps release emotion?

Any ideas?

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Type: Question • Score: 15 • Views: 11,471 • Replies: 45

Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:27 pm
I went to my parents' grave yesterday morning. My bro in law took me. It took a while to find, which I'll type up on another thread. But after both of us chasing around, he found it. I did fine, I'd been there before of course, was even right in contrast to the cemetery markers and the stupid computered map, which were obfuscating at the least, and worked on taking some possible photo when I had no clue with that camera. I sank down and sat in the grass when we finally found it.

I was calm.

As I needed to leave, bro in law moving to another grave he wanted to see..
I passed my hand over the tombstone.
And then I shattered.
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Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:29 pm
Dunno that it's the TOUCH, so much...it's that someone cares, and is attuned to how you feel.

It breaks down the barriers.

When something awful has happened to me, and I need to focus on work, for instance, I tell people not to be nice to me, or offer sympathy. I am like a gushing fountain once someone has been kind.
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:30 pm

Ohhh osso.
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:37 pm
There is on one aspect a level of vulnerability that's removed with the contact.

Prior to the hug, perhaps the lady was trying hard to keep her composure. The hug as an action may have signaled some form of emotional security where the lady inherently felt that she no longer needed to keep her composure... hence the cathartic nature of letting it all go in a sob session.

Just a poorly worded thought....
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Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:54 pm
Thanks, boom. I won't belabor it, not precisely the thread subject, but touch, even of stone, can matter. I still bleated when posting that last post, sense memory and much else.
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 10:20 pm
You may have something tangential and valid here to the thread even though it immediately seems initially digressive.

Anecdotally: One major reason I find it difficult to leave my house these days is that I too often find sense memory kicking in at unexpected places that remind me of my best friend, Marietta (Eurodiva/Thedivaden). It's difficult to keep one's composure walking the streets of NYC where reminders are scattered like buck shot. And blubbering like a fool in public, people think your some kind lunatic....

Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 10:56 pm
I think it's valid, the touching of a gravestone, re boom's thread (she is of course a wise and foolish virgin) but it is certainly not usual as an emotive sparker, even with those gathering around gravestones.

My ref for wise and foolish virgins is for a church in trastevere, I like the mosaics. Boom could have her own mosaic.
But, in the meantime, we are talking of loss.

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Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 10:58 pm
Well, I took us on one tangent. That's only one part of the power of touch.
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Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 11:04 pm
Late to say I get your steps as you walk the nyc streets, tsar. I was thinking that was obvious, but you don't know I feel that.
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Diest TKO
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 11:15 pm
Touch is a very powerful thing. When I was sad as a child, I can remember my father placing his palm over my heart. It always had a powerful effect on letting me feel emotion. I can still remember how warm his hand was, and how in those times I felt like it would literally pull the sadness out of me.

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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 01:10 am
Well, damn.

I am sorry.

BIIIIG sunglasses?

I just checked your thingy where you write about yourself. Profile!

THAT'S a profile.
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Joe Nation
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 07:23 am
From the moment we as children figure it out.
each of us is separate, unique and alone.
We are at once overjoyed and frightened at this news.

three million years ago all humanity slept
through the predator's night
in a nest of grass and stone.
Everywhen a human feels
the touches of
or makes touches to
AH the ancient soul says
Twas all myth
we are together one.

there is in our deepest brain
the scent and feel
of straw and embrace
of hay and home
of stone and love.

Joe(why I love the smell of cut grass)Nation
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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 11:01 am
Because by touching you are saying ok let it out - it is sort of giving permission to the person to share their sorrow with you/an unspoken way of communicating that you are feel for them and to share.
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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 05:58 pm
I am like a gushing fountain once someone has been kind.

So the fag and the smirk are all just a ploy, eh? Smile
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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 06:16 pm
I lost my husband in May. I fall apart when people ask, "How are you?"
Hugs usually just bend my neck and hurt (I am 5'1")

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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 06:31 pm
I wonder if it makes one feel safe and therefore it's OK to release the pain
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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 06:58 pm
I think it's the acknowledgment of the pain or the sadness you might be feeling. Someone reaches out to you with compassion. They know how you feel & offer comfort. Undoes me, very single time!
I was trained as a child to be a teeth-gritting stoic in the face of adversity, grief , sadness & the rest of it .... And this is pretty much how I deal with these things (in public anyway) as an adult, sad to say. I recall returning to work - in stoic mode - after my father died, some years ago. There to greet me on my desk was the most beautiful bunch of flowers, with very personal messages of condolence from the folk I worked with. I was totally undone. Cried & cried. So it doesn't have to be touch, it can be any form of reaching out, acknowledging what you're trying to cope with.
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 07:05 pm
Yes, that's true.
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Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 07:44 pm
hmmm I dunno, I feel that maybe it depends on the individual, I know its a human reaction to reach out to people who you see in emotional distress because I reach out to them to, but for myself personally I cant stand for anyone to hug me or touch me when I get upset as I find it claustrophobic and aggravating and I walk off even though I appreciate their kindness.

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