In these first days of hot sun my skin starts to steel itself in preparation for the annual attack on my Celtic ancestry. How to get a tan when underneath your clothes you’re tartan. Blue and white totally unmoved by decades of cancer-baiting on the beaches of the world.
Our attitudes to our skin reveals a great deal of what’s going on inside. Physically and symbolically our skin represents the boundary between us and the outside world. The boarder of our bodies which protects us from unwanted invasion but porous enough to let stuff in and out.
Our skin is also where we come into contact with each other. Our edges providing the emotional landscape where intimacy is played out. As a thin skinned type, this experience ranges from a tickle to a slap, and I’m often overwhelmed at the prospect of being unable to ride the rough and the smooth of contact. How to maintain a psychic skin thin enough to feel stuff but at the same time thick enough to survive the blood and gore of family holidays?
Tempting as it is to brutalize your skin into insensitivity, less English Rose more French Riviera, the reality is that it’s precisely this rawness that makes contact with each other possible. In the face of the naked fear this may evoke I like to remember the words of the magnificent Marianna Fotaki, “ah, but relationships are so worthy”. And remember the irony that for all of us Sensitives what with our sublime sense of touch if we take some basic precautions we actually excel at intimacy.
Whenever the first days of sun arrive I remember my first job in the NHS, working as psychic cannon fodder in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. 10 exotic creatures with diagnoses from borderline to multiple personalities these ladies’ skins were paper thin. Unusual as this may sound it was the happiest time in my working life, kicking my prejudices towards the full spectrum of human experience to base. The only time I was genuinely sad was in these first hot days of summer. Despite there being a garden equipped with full smoking privileges, nobody ever went into the sun. Preferring to scuttle into the cool dark isolation of the ward, unable to expose ourselves to the pain of direct sunlight. Locked in syndrome of the heart.
As unready as your bikini body might feel it’s very important today that you expose your psychic skin to the people around you. By all means use a factor 50 but show us a bit of skin because life is really truly worth it.
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