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February 3, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload Part One: Touch

“If you had to choose between losing your vision or losing your hearing, which would you choose?”

This was a question posed during one of my small group meetings several months ago, but  the question has stuck with me. I don’t know why because it was asked during a bunch of other icebreaker questions that we were all answering for fun, but that’s not the point. It made me think about all the five senses, and I started thinking about which one of the five I’d give up if I really had to. After pondering all the ins and outs of the question (let’s be honest here – I’m single and have WAYYY too much time on my hands), I still can’t really come to a conclusion. During these times of reflection, I’ve managed to stir up some really great memories, as well as some habits I can willingly admit to as weird.

Also, this is going to be a series of posts. There are a lot of reasons behind this, namely the fact that I can have 5 posts from a single topic (thus making it easier for me to post consistently rather than sporadically like Krista and I have been doing for some months now). I also have a lot of stories associated with the different senses, so unless y’all are interested in reading a super-post, I’m going to break them up so it’s not SO crazy. That being said, this week’s topic will be the sense of touch.

I have a lot of OCD tendencies in my day-to-day life. None of them dominate me or have control over my actions, but the tendencies that present the strongest obstacle for me are the ones related to touch. When I was younger my mom would take me shopping with her, and because I found shopping to be very boring unless we were shopping for Littlest Pet Shop accessories and animals, I had to find ways of entertaining myself. My favorite stores were the ones that had the clothes displayed on racks like these:


because I could walk between the two bars and be completely surrounded by fabrics and textures. I don’t know how else to describe it without sounding like a clinically insane person, but feeling all the different types of cloth on my face and hands presented me with all kinds of euphoria. Even now if I were short enough to walk through those clothes racks, that’s where you could find me on a slow Saturday. Just feeling all the different kinds of fabrics. Looking like a crazy person.

I have another OCD tendency where I like to touch the wall while I’m walking in a hallway. This habit went unnoticed by me until I went to college in 2007. Just like there are a ton of different textures to be felt while walking in between rows of clothes, different walls have different textures. The walls in my house growing up had popcorn texture on them (you know, the kind of texture that was razor sharp and could slice you with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel with even the slightest hint of pressure?), so touching the hallway walls wasn’t much of a problem until we moved to a new house. The new house had a non-lethal texture and every few steps I would touch the wall or tap my finger against it while walking. My high school building lightly textured wall paper on them, the company I worked at had a mix of wall paper and textured paint, and my dad’s friend who is a retired professional painter redid all the walls in my dad’s church with a variety of textures. As previously stated, these habits went unnoticed by me until I went to school at ORU. My first couple of weeks there I guess I had been going about my life as I normally would, until one day when I was coming back from my last class. I tapped a particular portion of the hallway wall and proceeded to the end of the hall where mine and Krista’s room was.  I had just stepped inside my room when I heard someone throw open their door and yell, “Who keeps tapping on my wall?! Seriously! It’s like EVERY day and it’s not funny anymore!” As I was the only person in the hall at that time they were clearly talking to me, which made me stop and recount my actions, which led to the discovery of obsession with touching/tapping walls. I recognized the behavior and ever since I have been very careful to resist any and all urges to run my hand along a wall or tap my finger against it.

As much as I love to feel different textures and such, I cannot handle life when I have to touch my own finger tips. And I guess it’s not so much touching my finger tips that’s the problem, but having to manipulate small objects which forces me to touch my own finger tips. I have no idea how to describe the sensation because I feel like not very many people can relate to it, but this fact about me made life as a child horrible. At the end of the day in grade school our teachers would tell us to pick up X-number of items off the floor so we could leave the classroom clean. I’m all for having a clean classroom, but the items we had to pick up were always miniscule – paper shreds, pencil shavings, grass pieces that were carried in on our shoes, etc. Every day at 3:25pm my own personal hell would be gearing up to unleash itself, and I had to steady my nerves for the torture they were about to undergo. Other activities I hate doing include having to count lots of change or put coins into paper rolls, any and all forms of jewelry-making, soldering circuits for my Broadcast Electronics class in college, and untangling necklaces if there’s a knot in the chain. I defer these activities to any other human being that is not me when I can.

My final anecdote: sometimes when I’m bored at work or I’m at a point where I can let my mind wander, I imagine items – with textures I don’t particularly like – being rubbed against each other. I have no idea why I do this or what made me start imagining these things, but the result of it is getting the chills all over and being mildly disgusted at the combinations. The worst combination I’ve been able to come up with is construction paper being rubbed against a really rusty nail.


Leave a Comment
  1. Valerie / Feb 3 2014 7:40 pm

    This post explains why you loved the physics note cards better than anything else ever could. It’s odd quirks like this that are the reason I treasure you and our friendship so much, Bekah. 🙂

    • bekbekbekah / Feb 4 2014 11:50 am

      HOW DID I NOT INCLUDE THAT STORY IN THIS POST?!?! Maybe I’ll just have to write a post about that physics class.. There is not shortage of stories from that year to be sure!


  1. Sensory Overload: Hearing | The Awkward ChronCicles
  2. AP Physics | The Awkward ChronCicles

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