But babies can die from lack of touch. We have a nerve ending that exists solely to register any form of gentle touch. Even a hug or a handshake can reduce stress, blood pressure, and heart rate. It can stimulate the release of oxytocin, the natural antidepressant serotonin, and the pleasure chemical dopamine. Even the touch of a total stranger can soothe feelings of loneliness.
I felt overwhelmingly lonely and depressed in that marriage. The canary had been dead for ages, and I was still toiling in the mine, slowly suffocating. The body we’d cared for would blink to let us know it was still alive, but I was wasting away with it.
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People sensed my loneliness. Men and women. Some men seemed to even be attracted to me because of it, as if they had honed in on the beacon of a susceptible…