Thursday, 13 June 2013

My Left Cheek

Some years ago, nearly 20, I was having a tantrum after what I regarded as bad service in a restaurant.   To be clear, I was late 20s, but it was definitely a tantrum.

We stood near the top of the Mound in Edinburgh, and I grabbed my wife's hand and held it to my left cheek and got her to stroke it.

I've no idea how I knew to do that.  But ever since then, if somebody strokes my left cheek, I can't stop myself smiling.  And even feeling happy while it's happening.   It's a very weird feeling.   It's something like being tickled except I'm smiling instead of laughing.   Unlike tickling, I don't mind it.  I am ticklish but I hate being tickled.  But this is nice. Also unlike tickling, I can do it to myself - well at about half intensity: it's much better if somebody else does it. Since I need it when I am miserable or crabby, I often play-act at not wanting it, which is kind of fun because inevitably I grin foolishly.

It is my left cheek, not my right.  It doesn't work on my right cheek.

Later, when my father died, I found a piece of paper with his very frail writing on it from his last days.  I broke down, and my wife tells me that my mother stroked my left cheek, but I don't know if she knew about it or whether it was instinctive.

Since I discovered this that day on the Mound, it has been a small but significant pleasure in my life.  It's also an oddity: other people may have equivalents but they don't get talked about.

The only relevance to this blog is that it doesn't seem to work well with depression.  For anger, frustration, sadness, it seems to help.   Or just for a small piece of pleasure.   For depression, it doesn't seem to work.  Sometimes I actively fight it, rather than play-act fight it, because I am miserable and I know it would make me happy, which at that time I don't want or feel I deserve. On the other hand, it seems to just be a momentary lift, rather than taking me to another place where I feel better.

This has been a long way of getting nowhere, but I wanted to share this mental oddity with you.

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