Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

September 30, 2010

My First Cuddle Party

“I’m Vern, and I’ve realized for quite some time that I have a serious touch deficit in my life. And I’m really nervous.” By way of introduction, those were my opening lines at my first Cuddle Party.

Picture fifteen pyjama-clad strangers at a yoga centre enfolded in pillows and blankets with a snack table in the far corner—those were our cuddle party environs. It’s kind of like a pyjama party for adults. Some of us, me included, wore T-shirts and track pants.

During the opening (“welcome circle”), among other things we were asked to pair off and answer the following questions: What’s your favourite sort of touch? What’s your least favourite? What are your boundaries around touch? If the questions took me aback, my answers flummoxed me even more—don’t know, don’t know, and don’t know. This was akin to asking me to rank my top five Yiddish phrases. I don’t speak Yiddish, and I don’t speak touch.

One of the CP rules states that your touch requests should be specific and you cannot proceed unless you receive a verbal yes. Corollary: if you mean yes, say yes. If you mean no, say no. If you’re not sure, say no. Straight away I couldn’t picture myself asking for anything that carried with it the slightest chance of inviting a no … which, it followed, meant anything at all. It quickly became clear that I wouldn’t be asking anyone to touch me or let me touch them, full stop. And for the next three hours, I didn’t.

But I stayed, and as if in reward for my tenacity one woman—I’ll call her Renata; svelte, long blonde hair in braids, to these eyes the most attractive of the five women in the room—asked if she and I could sit back to back. Without hesitation I said yes, and we had a nice conversation about places to live. I shared with her my London dreams; she said she’s content in Belleville for now. And I’d like to thank you, Renata, for sharing your back with mine for a few moments. As you said, “I could feel your vocal vibrations in my spine.”

Victories arising from the experience:
  • Signing up for a Cuddle Party.
  • Walking in the door.
  • Staying for the whole thing, all three and a half hours, through a lot of discomfort.
  • Staying present and just sitting with whatever came up, which mostly entailed noticing how blocked I am in the tactile department.
Work to do:
  • Go to another Cuddle Party.
  • Determine my personal hierarchy of touching, from safest to scariest. (This won’t be easy—another of today’s insights is the realization that my psyche considers “safe” and “touch” oxymorons, though the asking is scarier than the touch.)
  • Ask at least one person to give me whatever is at the safe end of my list.
  • Eventually—maybe at my third or fourth party—work my way up: either by asking more people to touch me in the way I feel safest or asking the same person for the next rung up.

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