Last Sunday was rough. I was in a lot of pain and haven't been sleeping much, so I am not at my most tactful or kind. I cringed at the idea of having to shake hands, not to mention what would happen if someone tried to hug me, but I cringed more at the thought of telling people not to touch me. Also, I've been trying not to let the pain be my excuse for skipping church. So I went to church, craving invisibility, so I wouldn't have to shake hands or move or say anything. The problem with going to church right now is that I am new at this church, so I can't just stay seated and hide away and be antisocial like I want to. (Even if I had tried to do so, people move around so much there, to make sure they greet everybody, I would have had to keep getting up to let them past anyway). So I shook hands with a pained smile. Days later I'm still paying the price.
Why is it so hard for me to just come up with a line to deflect people kindly? (I think this must be related to how hard it is for me to say I'm sorry. A lot of the same choking up and rationalizing in circles and excuses seem to occur.) It's kind of silly, but I hate the way people's faces fall or they stop making eye contact when I tell them I can't touch them/be touched, and I can't think of anything to say because I'm just so tired, so I just don't say anything about it while I'm shaking their hand, and it's like someone's driving spikes through my wrists, and then I pay the price in increased pain and decreased sleep for days and have to fight even harder to make myself go to church the next time it's Sunday morning, and I'm in pain. If only I could find the perfect words . . .
I am convinced that most people would hate to cause other people pain like this. I also think that some people hate knowing they caused pain more than actually causing pain. Like maybe they'd rather cause the pain and not know than be told to stay away. Did I mention I'm not at my mental best at times like these?
I think I need help. To flip the question around, for those of you who attend warm and welcoming churches where folks greet each other affectionately with a handshake or a hug, what could someone in pain say to you to prevent physical contact that would leave you still feeling loved and greeted and not awkward and offended and unlikely to ever talk to that person again?
And if you are a person who deals with this kind of pain, what do you say in this situation?
Thanks in advance for your advice.