Proprioception, I Love You (Sometimes)

I am in love. Sorta.


It's a temperamental thing, really, this love. There are no daffodils or bonbons, no kisses. I don't smear red paint around my lips in anticipation of his arrival. We have our awkward moments. There are days that I feel cursed and days that I feel especially lucky to be this person in this body on this planet swirling around the sun. But when I am in love, I am head-over-heels in love. A laughing-madly-at-passers-by sort of love. An every-song-reminds-me-of-our-love kind of love.

Today, I am in love with proprioception, the sense of where my body is in space. Because in case you haven't figured it out by now, I am a Sensory Processing Disorder advocate and author, and I will literally never ever blog about another topic.


Proprioception is a double-edged sword and one of my greatest sensory challenges. I'm not lying when I say I rarely know where my body ends and the world begins (the proof is in the bruises I sport all over my limbs like a decorated war hero). Feeling untethered to any physical reality, my body frequently bobs and weaves above itself like a kite lost along the shore, even as I am sitting still and looking (semi) calm. Certain things help me almost connect: a weighted lap pad. A husband/handler willing to sit on me and not make any judgments. A laptop used on the actual lap. It's the sense with which I am always craving to connect and often cannot find. It's like a Missed Connection for the senses. It exists, I've seen it before, and I dream of seeing it again. Life without it is meaningless. And then without any warning, my stars align and I am suddenly physically grounded for a juicy, sugary, delicious moment.

Take today:

In the middle of a very humid, very warm, very hazy, very rainy, very blindingly cloudy and supremely white NYC spring (the epitome of uncomfortable and gross, IMHO), today emerged from the night with a bright azure blue sky and unseasonably crisp temperatures. The wind howled through our open windows. I peered out and down to the street, and watched people scurry past our door clad in coats. It used to be that each morning, I jumped into my Lululemons and scooted out to the gym without a second thought, eager to immerse myself - even if briefly and safely - in the world outside. Since my bold move away from medication and into sensory shutdown territory, it's been harder to engage with the noisy, bright, crowded, busy sphere outside of our apartment. Seeing and processing sight has been touch-and-go, making a walk outdoors nightmarish. Who doesn't love walking down the street when their brain can't properly interpret what it's seeing? I mean, really. I've had to lure myself outside with padded accolades and using my most gentle motherese (It's okay, beautiful, you can do this, I swear! Coo coo, my little shmoo! You should win an award for the triumph of the human spirit over the human brain! Look at you walk down the street like a boss!) and all of this for a five minute walk around the block - something most people don't think twice about. Oh SPD, you creature. So today, almost four weeks after officially going off those nasty benzos and after 27 days of feeling like a sensory stranger trapped in a wacky neurological jail, I cautiously stuck my face out from behind our building door. A rush of cold met my cheeks. MY CHEEKS! I had almost forgotten where my cheeks were, or that I even had cheeks. Cheeks mean that I have a body. Feeling my body means that I know where I am in space. I exist!


In my love affair with proprioception, cold air is the catalyst. Maybe it's a love affair with proprioception by way of a pleasant tactile experience. I have always loved the feel of cold against my skin. Hungry for soft, chilly fidget opportunities, I still run my fingertips along anything that may fit the bill. In the late 80s and early 90s, this meant I adored any mature woman who ventured outside in winter in a fur coat. Now, my chenille weighted blanket is this tactile seeker's delight in December. I stroke the fabric as if it's the downy hair of a beloved child.

I suppose that this makes sense. If skin is our largest (sense) organ, and I seek tactile input, the act of having cool air blow against my skin will be especially soothing for me, allowing me to feel calmer and more connected to my body in space, or the following RachQuation©:

 Relief, AKA Proprioception

Cool Air


This Theory of Rachitivity© is so supremely simple to construct, and yet so difficult to arrange with Mother Nature. It is why I feel as if I come alive in the fall after floundering against the excruciating moist heat of summer. I have vivid daydreams of moving somewhere in the world where it is always autumn - crisp, blue, sunny - a day not unlike today. (I should note that thanks to the weather, I made it further on my walk with less tools than I have in the past month. With my proprioceptive sense feeling more present, I was able to rely less on my iffy visual processing for guidance outdoors - it's amazing how the senses work together when they are indeed [finally and suddenly, even if temporarily] working!)

So yes, today I am a swooning sensory teenager wearing my heart on my sleeve. I am a young bride on her wedding night. I am eternally grateful to the forces of the universe, the local weatherman, and your favorite weather god for allowing me to feel the presence of my body for a few brief minutes in an otherwise endless stretch of questionable time. After my short-term shift in ability these past few weeks, it's nice to think that I may actually feel like my best self again one of these days. Love is, in fact, a random cold blue day in spring. It's feeling your body moving through the air in a world that isn't always hospitable to your neurology.

It's regaining the thing you thought you'd lost for good, if even for a few moments.


  1. Why do you refer to your husband as your handler?

    1. Take a look at this:

  2. Charissa JacobsonJuly 22, 2015 at 8:58 PM

    I'm so thankful for your work here. I never imagined that someone would be able to articulate how I experience life. We'll done. I don't read blogs as much as I follow articles on FB. I will look for you there. That's how I learned about you was from a great SID FB page that linked you.

    1. This is perhaps my favorite blog comment ever :) Thank you, Charissa, for saying it! I always tell sensory adults and teens - anyone who's come to their senses, really - that they're in very good company. The same for you!

  3. Now it makes sense to me why my child that struggles mostly with proprioception loves the wind and fans so much. Also never seems to be cold :D


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