A couple of weeks before social-distancing became the new norm and strict laws were passed to keep all Aussies in their homes, I sat sandwiched in between my friends for my birthday dinner.
One of my friends, Bianca, has a whole host of serious health issues that make the state of things a real, life-threatening situation for her.
Of the five love languages — words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gift-giving — physical touch is definitely one of the more significant ways I show my love to those around me.
I love the tangible evidence of closeness that comes from touching someone. After a long day at work — where I maintain a professional distance from those around me — the release of going out to dinner with friends feels very much like exhaling; kissing their cheeks, holding their arm, sharing food.
Some of my very favourite memories are grounded in touch.
I can’t be the only one who expresses themselves this way — so I know that a great many of us are feeling the weight of self-isolation right now.
Those who show their love with acts of service and gift-giving, are dropping meals (and toilet paper) on the doorsteps of quarantined family members.
When the closest you can get to someone is 1.5 metres — if at all — it’s easy for those who need physical touch to feel exceptionally lonely in what is already a stressful and anxious time.
You’re reading this close to a month into this new reality and there are days when I honestly don’t feel that I’m coping.
I’ve been giving thought to ways to get through coming months without the casual daily interactions — and select intimate ones — that make me feel connected to other people.
If you’re like me, I do suggest video calling your loved ones. Though not the same as physically sitting next to or across from them, the sight and sound of them does much to recreate some of the experience.
The people I can hold right now, my family, are getting more than their usual share of affection.
I’ve been trying to get back in my body more than ever. Give my limbs the care that they would usually get from other people.
Some of what has been trying these past few weeks are the lack of new experiences and memories I can make with the people I love. But, though restricted now to a shared screen, there’s still a bit we can do.
And lastly, I’m finding more and more that sentimental, physical objects — always particularly significant for people in long distance relationships — are essential.
There are days and months ahead of us of isolation, and physical accessibility to each other is being restricted.
May a silver lining to all of this be that we, who usually depend on physical touch to show and feel love for others, learn new ways to show our love to the people most important to us.
What’s your love language? And how are you dealing with self-isolation?