Wednesday, April 19, 2017

P - Personal Space

P for Personal Space
Personal space is a difficult concept to really understand unless you have been purposefully deprived of it for years like I was. When I was 14, I was admitted to the mental hospital for my first 2 week stint. The first and biggest rule of the teen mental hospital is "no entering any other person's personal space" and the words "personal space" were screamed at you every time you got anywhere near violating this rule (which of course you did, you were a teen mental health case, breaking all the rules was part of what got you there). FYI for those of you who aren't clear, personal space is any space within arms reach, if you can touch someone, its to close. The rule is a very good one in that environment, there are a lot of other people there who are specifically admitted for things like violence, inappropriate sexual contact, or just being a serious creeper.
I fell into the rule pretty easy, where there were other kids who it was against their nature to be deprived of touch like that. I couldn't tell you if it was my time in the hospital or the way I was raised, but, I am not a touchy person, neither is my parents. We were not the sort of family who all piled onto the couch close to each other and hold hands and snuggle. My general inclination is to stay out of everyone's personal space, even my close friends. Hunny is an exception to this, but when I get depressed or overly emotional I still tend to stay out of reach.
Have often do you think about personal space? I am sure when someone you don't know or don't like, or with someone that smells funny, you think about it a lot. But how often a day does someone come into your personal space? If you were deprived of it entirely for days or weeks, how would you feel? Its a cold feeling. I don't know how else to describe it. Cold in a part of your soul that you didn't know had feeling.
Touch is super important to people, there are lots of studies that prove that touch releases Oxycontin. There have been studies that prove that institutionalization does not work. One of the reasons being that touch helps in coping. Now imagine how much emotionally damaged teens might need that extra help in coping. That extra touch. Many of those teens were deprived of touch for far longer then the hospital stay, because of their own issues. So whats the best answer? You can't let a bunch of hormonal teens with serious mental issues touch each other. But what extra damage are they doing by not allowing it? I can tell you personally, being deprived of the connection of touch has given me long term issues with social situations and relationships. I have swung to both extremes of being super touchy and being totally distant in my life and I can tell you that I often lack a 'normal' warmth when I deal with people. I have huge fears of being a parent, what if I can't properly make a maternal connection with my kids because being in each others personal space a lot freaks me out? Personal Space. Think about it. What would you do without it?


  1. Personal space is important, but sometimes people just need a hug. Hope your life is on the upward swing now. Find me here. LINK

  2. Interesting, thought-provoking post. Personal space... I don't like being in crowds with people pressed up against me, especially since I am short so I can't see over people. I get claustrophobic in those situations. But I'm okay with hugging family and friends, especially snuggling grandchildren.

    I would think touching would be important for some troubled teens, but I can also see how touching would freak some out.

    Trudy @ Reel Focus
    Food in Film: Pancakes

  3. Our personal space is indeed important. I value it.
    It's considered inappropriate to transgress this space during mutual conversation. The other person may step back to maintain that space in between :)
    'Princess to Queen' #AtoZChallenge

  4. For all that I am hug-avoidant, I can be pretty darned touchy... IF you're someone I'm comfortable being touchy with. For me, it's more the who than the what.

  5. Great post. I can see how this topic is such a conflict for you. I'm kind of the same way about not being super touchy. And, like you, I have been both extremes of being too touchy and not touchy enough. I'm not sure what the answer is, and I'm wondering if anything has changed since you were in the teen mental hospital. I feel like, for the most part (though this isn't always the case) things tend to change as people become more aware of the causes and how to fix the problems. Like how mental hospitals have changed from the early 1900s until now.

    Anyway, I'm sure that when you have kids you will instinctively know how best to care for them. Or you'll figure it out. Of course, that's just my hunch. Maybe not. I think it's just one of those things where you just don't know until you try. *shrugs*

    With Love,

  6. @Susanne Its true, a hug from the right person will fix a lot of sadness, and yes my life is definitly on the upswing now, thanks!

    @Trudy, I am the short person in my family, so i can see how it can cause anxiety in a crowd. Troubled teens do need touch, but finding the 'appropriate' way to touch some of them with sever issues is hard.

    @anita True, not every gets the hint though :/

    @JZ Hugs are sometimes weird, like 'is this one of those arms only hugs, or one of those full body hugs'. But when its the right who, touch can be very nice :)

    @Mandy what a great point! It could be very different, its been a long time since i was in the hospital so things could certainly be different. Thanks for the encouraging words :)