Written by Paul Landis Delaune
was a boy, I enjoyed wrestling. I often wrestled with my younger
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.
was in the ninth and tenth grades I was on my schools’ wrestling teams.
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.
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.
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
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.
in re-learning how to touch others, it was necessary for me to learn how
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.
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
touching one another.
Do you realize how blest you are? Touch me.