There was a breeze in the room from an open window.
I could hear children outside, playing on the grass.
I needed a bit of white noise.
The thought of laying there, listening to the sound of our breathing, made me nervous.
I was surprised by this.
I know Melanie. I've hired her to cuddle one of my clients and the experience was nothing but positive.
And yet . . . as soon as we entered the bedroom, I felt a small flutter of panic.
I checked in with myself: Was this something I needed to pay attention to? Or was this first-time jitters?
I decided it was just a normal reaction to a new experience and got onto the bed.
Melanie set up the timer on her phone, then laid down behind me and put her arm around my shoulders.
And just like that, I was getting spooned by a professional cuddler!
And it wasn’t as weird or awkward as you might think. Melanie was kind and intuitive, asking me questions. "Are you comfortable? Do you want to adjust anything?"
“You can hold me tighter,” I told her.
So she did.
But as much as I tried to be present for the process, my monkey-mind kept interrupting me.
"Maybe I should tell her she can relax her arm if she needs to—I don’t want her to be uncomfortable."
"Just stay in your own business. Melanie can take care of herself."
I reminded myself to focus on what was happening inside of ME.
I tried putting my attention on the place where our bodies met. I felt the warmth between us, her arm around my shoulder . . .
And then my mind kicked in again, taking me on a strange tangent.
"I wonder if anyone has just turned around and tried to kiss her?"
"WHAT? Yikes! Why are you thinking that?
"Well, maybe it's happened!"
"Will you STOP it? What's the matter with you?"
With effort, I brought myself back to the session.
"Just allow yourself to receive," I told myself.
But as I laid there, I realized I wasn’t truly connected to the experience.
The cuddling felt completely . . . benign.
My body wasn’t starved for touch like many others are. The whole thing felt like an experiment—not something I truly craved. The cuddling wasn't sinking down into my bones, relieving any kind of childhood need.
Minutes later, the timer went off and the session was over.
Melanie sat up to turn off her phone and I rolled onto my back.
"Is it okay if I take a picture of us?" I asked. "I want to share it with my readers."
"Sure," she said, laying back down beside me.
I took a couple of photos, but each one was horrible.
We started to laugh.
I took another.
Neither of us seemed to know where the lens actually was.
She looked one way, I looked the other.
We laughed harder.
And wow, it felt good to hang out with her like that. I felt like a kid at a sleep-over.
That's when the AHA hit me with its full, emotional load.
I wasn't looking for the touch of a mother. I was craving the fun and connection of female friendship.
I thought of my preteen years, when my best friend would stay the night and we'd lie in bed, talking and laughing until morning.
THAT was the cuddle-session I wanted!
I didn't tell Melanie this at the time, but I knew I'd hit on something important.
Later, as I drove home, I remembered something else.
In 2005, after I'd been released from the hospital to recover at home from injuries caused by a car accident, my dear friend Deb had driven over to my house and had climbed onto my bed to be with me.
This was new.
Deb and I met as adult women. We were close, but at that time in our friendship there was still a semi-formal boundary between us.
That changed when she walked into the bedroom and got onto the bed.
The living room is the realm of the PUBLIC self—let's have everyone over for drinks!—but the bedroom is different. It's the realm of our private INNER self.
It's where we (literally and figuratively) take it all off.
The bed is at the centre of this.
And only the people who have earned the right to that degree of closeness, should ever join us there.
In my life, Debbie's one of those people.
And as we sat together, talking and laughing, the armour of adulthood gave way, freeing our nerdy, nine-year-old selves.
THIS is what my heart was calling me back to.
I've come to realize how important it is to create and inhabit places where we can take off our protective layers and put down our shields.
The world is filled to the brim with social arenas and that's great!
But our public personas are not who we really are.
We need more party rooms for the precious, tender, inner self.
Places of comfort, safety, and intimacy.
I don't know about you, but I want to be silly more often. I want to tell my trusted ones all my secrets. I want to be open and vulnerable, geeky and weird.
I want to feel the sweet sense of well-being . . .
Like I'm in a cozy bed with a very good friend.
Sending you so much love,
PS. Melanie is a certified member of the Canadian Association for Professional Cuddlers (CACP).
She's also a Spoken Word Artist, a Free Lance Writer and a Model and has her own website that you can find here.