I came across this term, “touched out” on the social media page of an influencer who had just had a baby. She is loved for her candidness and raw honesty and she just said, “I was feeling overwhelmed so I just passed the baby off to my husband. Apparently feeling touched out is a thing”. At the time, I’d never heard the term before but it immediately struck a chord with me.
This feeling of being “touched out” or overtouched is something we see and experience regularly, yet rarely talk about. A mama who is feeling touched out feels irritated and resentful of physical contact with her partner, her older children and even her baby. Breastfeeding her baby and carrying her toddler feels like a burden and she craves physical space from everyone. The self-talk in mamas experiencing this goes something like this: “Why does a hug from my toddler make my skin crawl? Why do I resent my baby when they need me to feed them? Does this mean I am a bad mom? Is there something wrong with me? Why do I turn away from being kissed by my partner? I don’t ever feel the need to be intimate anymore… what does this mean for my marriage?” And so on and so on. These thoughts can feel intrusive and most often go unspoken because we don’t understand these feelings and think that we must be the worst person in the world for having them!
Well mama, I am here to tell you, you are not alone and you are the farthest thing from a bad mom or partner! Feeling touched out is a symptom of you missing out on your basic needs. It is your body creating a physical reaction to unmet needs so you have no choice but to listen to it! These feelings are your body screaming “Hellooooo pay attention to me please!” You are literally so busy being such a good mom and partner to everyone else that you are not getting enough of what you need to feel and be yourself. And this is not uncommon. Chelsea Smyth, a social worker specializing in maternal mental health, says she sees this in her clients ALL of the time! Moms are experts at making sure everyone else is taken care of but are not-so-much on taking care of themselves. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling… the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then, Chelsea suggests begin asking yourself these questions:
- Where do I exist on the priority list?
- When was the last time I accepted help and took a break?
- Am I experiencing tension or pressure to be intimate again before I’m ready?
By asking yourself these questions you can start to identify where your needs aren’t being met and begin figuring out ways that you can meet them.
- What is one thing that your partner can do for you every day?
- How can you and your partner adjust schedules so you can take a shower in peace?
- What is one thing that makes you feel like you? Buy it. Wear it. Do it.
Incorporating positive physical touch that is beneficial to you and you alone can also be helpful. Book yourself a massage, go for a pedicure, get your hair done or even just ask for a hug from a friend. Reconnecting with physical touch that gives to you instead of someone else can help you reconnect with the positive emotions that physical closeness can bring. Addressing even ONE of these needs can help ease some of the mental and physical demands of motherhood. After all, beyond being an amazing mama and partner, you are a beautiful human being worthy of care and attention too.
**Special thanks to Chelsea Smyth from Village Therapy for her wisdom and input for this article**.