Yep, that’s right, a cuddle puddle! (Insert hearty eyes emoji here).
For those of you who are wondering, a cuddle puddle is a big old pile of pillows, and comfy blankets, with a bunch of strangers piled in the middle, spooning, caressing, holding hands, touching each other with consensual, non-sexual touch.
What thoughts does this trigger for you? I thought it was kinda odd, and I was fascinated. A dear friend was hosting and the idea made me really uncomfortable, soooooooo naturally I said “yes!” Why not? Confront my fears, my discomfort, and see what this was about…annnnnnnd it was really awesome!
Now this is the typical dialogue I hear from people when I tell them about this, “I don’t want to touch strangers.” “That’s weird.” “I don’t like people touching me.” “I don’t like people.” “That sounds like a reason to get a cheap feel.” “What is this? Some kind of gangbang?”
So please, open your mind and continue to read on.
So, I get to the puddle… We do a quick workshop about rules, regulations, and etiquette. And the time arrives, it’s finally time to cuddle. So, I’m sitting in the puddle, and it’s just before we’re about to get our cuddle on, I start thinking… “I could just make a run for it. No one would care. My friend’s feelings would likely be hurt, though. Fuck, why did I agree to this? What if someone asks me to cuddle them, and I don’t want to? I know we’re supposed to say no, but I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I could just run out now.”
And then the deeper reason behind my train of thought rears it’s ugly head…. “What if no one wants to cuddle me? What if I just sit like a weirdo in the middle of the puddle. Alone. With no one to give me snugs…”
“What if I’m rejected?”
And that’s really what the fear was all about, and it was likely experienced by everyone in the room…
And guess what? That’s how almost all of us walk around this Earth. Wondering if anyone will want to touch us, love us, belong with us, be companion’s with us, accept us, find us worthy to stroke our arm, hold our hand, and embrace us in a true hug.
Not the bullshit formality hugs that most people offer out of habit and obligation. BUT a hug offered out of true compassion for the human condition, quiet love and acceptance for who you are, and honest longing for connection with another being inhabiting a human body in this same Universe.
That kind of hug requires vulnerability. Just like a cuddle puddle. Although, you know you’re in a safe space, that fear of rejection, of unworthiness…it still seeps in.
Okay, back at the puddle again: So, I’m sitting there. And I’m reminded of the glacier fed lake that I grew up swimming in. It didn’t matter how hot it was outside, the lake was still ice cold. You would dip a toe in to test the water, before taking the icy plunge, and there would always be hesitation because it just feels SO COLD! That’s what the cuddle puddle was like. You want to jump in, but it feels too cold, and you’re waiting and hesitating… And then you finally jump, and once you’re in, you realize it’s really not that bad.
Once I “jumped in” to the puddle, I was invited by the arms of a vibrant mid 60s woman who asked to spoon me, and I said “yes.” Why not? We spooned, cuddled, hugged, and chatted for a couple hours, in between a tangle of arms, hands, massages and caresses on either side of us and around us. She was pressed up beside me in some way, shape, or form the whole time. Caressing my hair, my arm, squeezing my hand tightly, and most importantly laughing hysterically throughout. She told me about her marriage that was devoid of touch, and how she just “wanted to be hugged” once she got out of it. And I learned about how she grew up sheltered, and over the years had blossomed into the radiant, expressive, dynamo of a dame, that she is now.
I was loved on by so many people. Hugged, big spooned, little spooned, arm caressed, hands held, and hair tousled and massaged, and I was asked and I agreed to each request. It was a give and take, where it felt like for every touch you gave, you were receiving another in return. A dance of acceptance and belonging.
I got thinking afterwards…how many of us are devoid of such touch?
As a culture, this starts early. Often, we demonize co-sleeping, and work to have babies sleeping independently as soon as possible. Breastfeeding can be shunned or seen as inappropriate. Both of these things being beautiful ways to connect and bond through touch. And let’s not forget, what would cavewoman do in both these scenarios?
Human touch is a necessity of LIFE in the early stages of bringing a baby into this world. They would die without it. That is not hyperbole. It’s actual science.
Children are institutionalized weeks after birth, only to graduate to the educational system. Touch is often prohibited by the adults who are around them the most, and if they’re from parents who have experienced the same travesty, who is to teach them the importance of touch, and human connection? We educate our children about BAD TOUCH, and protecting themselves in that sense, but at what point to we educate them about GOOD TOUCH and consent? And for those who are victims to the BAD forms of touch at young ages or old, they are often never cleared of those traumas or re-educated on how good touch can be powerfully healing and transformative.
I don’t know what the answer is…
So, I ask…when is the last time we met our own needs for human connection? When is the last time we sat and cuddled someone that wasn’t our spouse, or wasn’t someone that we have a sexual relationship with? When is the last time we laid in our best friend’s arms to watch a movie and enjoyed being loved and belonging in a completely platonic way. When’s the last time a male, whom there is no intention of sleeping with, held our hand and caressed it while telling them a funny story, or a sad story, or any story that relates our human experience to them?
What about this…. As an adult, when is the last time your parent held you? Caressed your hair? When did our parent’s stop touching and holding us? When did we, or them, decide that we were too old to be loved on?
Touch is often equated to sex, so much so that we have eliminated a lot of physical touch and created a barrier in human connection. And how often is human connection confused with sexual connection because we are so far removed from touching one another?
I got thinking about my poor father’s final days in a nursing home. If my mother hadn’t been around to touch and love on him, when would he receive that kind of comfort and care from anyone else? And how many elderly people in these scenarios are left untouched by another, after their spouse of decades passes? How long does the widower go before they are lovingly embraced by someone? As age ensues, in our current culture, so does isolation, and institutionalization. So, where does this basic human need get met? It’s one thing to have someone wipe your ass, and help you to bed, but who caresses your cheek, and holds you lovingly against their chest as you near the end of your days?
I don’t know the answer to these questions.
I do know that it is something we all need. And you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think you do.
I do know how I felt after the cuddle puddle.
I do know that as I age, I pray that I am blessed enough to be surrounded by people that want to cuddle, hold, caress, and touch me with love and acceptance.
I do know, that if I’m fortunate enough to move into old age, that I hope there are people around me to love on me without feeling weird about it.
What would cavewoman do? In a time before language, communication and connection were king. How do you do that without words? Through your eyes, and your body. The age old game of charades, dance, and for sure touch…
So I encourage you to ponder the following questions: how much human touch and connection do I get each day? How does the thought of attending a cuddle puddle make me feel? Why? Look deeper… And finally, what does it feel like to be hugged, and cuddled, and loved on? Don’t you want more of that in your life? Do you think the world would be a better place if this happened more often?
Have you ever been to a cuddle puddle? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!