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Touch Me
Written by Paul Landis Delaune

     When I was a boy, I enjoyed wrestling.  I often wrestled with my younger brothers
and my friends, making up games for both inside and outside, even in our neighborhood
swimming pool, that would satisfy my desire to wrestle.  Often I would irritate my brothers
and bore my friends with all the different games I would want to play in pitting my muscles
and skill against their own.

     When I was in the ninth and tenth grades I was on my schools’ wrestling teams.  It was
these experiences that helped show me how inept I really was in sporting events.  I was not
only slow and uncoordinated, but I had little self-confidence in my abilities and was easily
intimidated by others.  The same was true for me in other sports as well.  I was so bad that
I developed the attitude that somebody had to be the worst and I accepted my lot as it was.

     In looking back, I realize my wrestling zeal was born from a deep emotional need to
experience human touch, both in touching others and being touched in return.  I imagine
part of my difficulty in accepting my paralysis in the first several years after my spinal
cord injury stemmed from my inability to touch others.  This was compounded by my
projection of my negative feelings regarding my paralysis onto others so that I believed
others didn’t want to touch me.  As a consequence, Ideveloped an aloof attitude that
kept others distant from me, even though I often fantasized about physically touching
others and enjoying their touch in return.

     Due to the extent of my paralysis, I am unable to physically touch others, except
in the most intimate of relationships which have been few and far between in my life
and always short-lived. Thus, it has been necessary to break down my wall of aloofness
as well as learning other ways to touch others.

     First, in re-learning how to touch others, it was necessary for me to learn how to
touch myself.  This entailed getting in touch with my thoughts and emotions.  I have
always been introspective, but my paralysis forced me to turn even deeper into myself in
my desire to understand my thoughts and my emotions.  The challenge included
learning how to express myself in words, especially the written word, in such a
way that others could see, feel and understand my deepest thoughts and most personal
emotions. This also strengthened my own understanding of myself.

     The result of this introspection and experience has enabled me to touch others once
again, only now I do so with my sense of humor, my intellect, my heart and my
love by means of words.  Slowly I am bringing down my wall of aloofness
and am finding others reaching out to touch me in return.  As in my childhood, I
still crave human touch, even more so now, I believe.  We all want it, need it, yet we
are often afraid to expect it.  I envy those of you who are capable of physically
touching one another.  Do you realize how blest you are?  Touch me.