chronic pain/fibromyalgia · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · Los Angeles

Keeping my hands to myself

Back from Los Angeles and of course, incredibly jet-lagged. Oy. And I’m scheduled to go to a Yael Naim concert tonight. The best laid plans of mice and men….
I figured I’d write up more about my trip before I head out for the evening. One particular awkward moment sticks out in my mind. After a great meal with some of my in-law’s friends, one male guest reached out to shake my hand. The man is married to a Jewish woman and recently had a non-Orthodox conversion.
But when he stretched out his hand to me, I kept my hands to myself. My husband wasn’t sure if that was the right decision and I started to doubt myself, too. The host laughed it off, mentioning that he had once given me the awkwardest hug in the world. I clarified that it was probably more awkward for him than me.

After all, it’s not like I’ve never touched a man before who isn’t my husband, but fibromyalgia pains and a special sensitivity to touch have made me look at touching…the opposite sex or otherwise, as something significant.

But I worry that people will mistake my actions for fervent religiosity. That the Modern Orthodox crowd I run with in Los Angeles might think that I think I’m better than them somehow because I don’t touch. Not that my actions are based in a deeply thoughtful choice that is intertwined with pain and religious preference.
In case you missed it, I previously published an essay about: Fibromyalgia & The Power of Touch.

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