Late one night, I was scrolling on Instagram and came across a mom’s page. The white letters on a black background boldly read “Touched Out.” I had never heard of that term; however, it struck my core. It was a phrase that had eluded me, one I had never heard but never knew I would need so much. It gave words to what I was feeling as a new mom.
I was officially “touched out.”
For those unfamiliar with the term, Psychology Today describes being “touched out” as “feeling saturated with physical touch, to the point where one more attempt at physicality feels like it may push you over the edge.” This feeling could come on when your child attempts to nurse for what feels like the hundredth time or when your partner tries to show affection by hugging or kissing you but instead of joy, it stirs feelings of resentment or repulsion.
Before my daughter, I had done so much bodywork. I learned about crystals to balance my chakras and yoni steamed. I found new herbs and drank them to balance whatever energy changes I experienced in my body. Far from out of touch, I was always in tune with my body’s needs. However, it didn’t occur to me that needing to exist for someone’s comfort and nourishment would place such a stress on my own need for isolation. I consider myself more of an introverted ambivert (in the least VERY selectively social) and have a career in a people-oriented field. Coupled with the loss of my brother in January, my body had become more foreign to me as the days went by, and I became angrier the further away it felt. As I write this, I am writing to reflect upon and work through this feeling. I know I am not alone and that so many women have probably felt the same way. I am just thankful that we live in an information age when a woman across the world can put up a post that me, a mom reading under my covers to not wake my daughter in her crib across the room, would see and feel seen. It has been months since I’ve read that post, and I will never forget it.
The guilt of feeling “touched out” has become very tangible. No loving person wants to feel like they are pushing their partner or child away. As an empath, I am also very conscious of the moments my spirit is blaring and screaming to repel any need for attraction and attention. It is a truth I wish I could bury, but sometimes my energy is louder than the words I find to apologize.
I’ve shared the phrase with my partner, other moms, and colleagues who didn’t realize their marital problems were from them also being “touched out.” It is exciting to have those words. And for anyone reading who is discovering that phrase for the first time, I hope it unlocks a new level on your journey where you can explore ways of tapping back into your body. Some might include yoga, tantric exercises, moving meditations, communicating better boundaries with your partner, or speaking to a therapist. Understanding what our body tells us when it says it’s “touched out” is vital to building healthy bonds with your child, partner, and, most importantly, yourself.
Portia Ingram is the Director of Smart Start Suffolk for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, developing and coordinating early childhood programs. She owns Mind Align Solutions, LLC, a consulting company that creates and runs workshops on holistic planning and life skill development for children and adults. She has also worked and advocated for the disability community for over ten years in various positions ranging from clinician to policy advocate. She continues to share and provide resources to those in the community, working alongside politicians and non-profit organizations around Long Island. She is the author of the workbook The Helpful Planner and the young adult self-help book How To Survive Your 20s.