Affection and Emotional Support

Emotional affection can be as healing as physical affection.

Posted Apr 07, 2018

C.S. Lewis once said, “Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.” As I look around at my wife cuddling the animals (and me), I have to believe that’s true. Even with meditation and the goal to maintain a peaceful existence, the only time I completely relax is just before sleep, when we are holding each other and her hand is on my heart. The second I feel it, I exhale and am in bliss with dreamland not far away.

Lewis had huge issues with financial insecurity (according to CNN, he was so afraid of poverty he seldom fixed his house). He also created the Chronicles of Narnia along with many other books and was a professor at Cambridge, and found comfort in his imagination and close family support. Like the rest of us, the stress of daily living could get to him, and he realized the value of affection and his need for it.

I recently rewatched the 2010 HBO movie about Temple Grandin, an autistic veterinarian who literally rewrote the way animals are treated when they are raised for food. She herself had difficulty accepting human affection, although she knew she needed it, her autism would not allow her to be physically close to another person. So, she invented a machine, similar to the ones used to calm cattle, so that she could feel held without having another human involved. Her work evolved, as did she, and now she is respected all over the world for creating new methods to keep animals calm during their life.

Emotional affection can be as healing as physical affection, and I don’t think that either Lewis or Grandin would disagree.  Even though they both found human interaction difficult, both connected to the world through their writing and that feeling of acceptance from the rest of the world is very, well, affectionate.

Although this is not how most people live, getting public adoration can lift you up and make it easier to deal with your personal world. That being said, that life is not for everyone, but finding a way to get the attention and affection you need is.

If you don’t have someone in your life with whom you feel comfortable being close, I have to point out the value of having an animal to comfort you. Indeed, emotional support animals are now accepted onboard by nearly all the airlines, and they are allowed in most hotels. Getting your pet certified as an ESA is not really that complicated — your doctor can write you a note — because we now understand that what these animals provide to their human companions is remarkable. At one of the darkest times in my life, the majority of love I received was from my pets. They needed me and I needed them, and even though I have a loving family and supportive friends, I will never be without a dog and a cat for the rest of my life.

Whatever it takes, allow yourself to absorb as much real affection as you can. It will make your life sweeter and help you deal with the sour parts much better.