Monday, May 9, 2016

To Hug or Not to Hug

I don’t feel comfortable when people hug me.  There, I said it.  Usually when I tell people, they give me a weird look. 

“What’s wrong with you?” 

“Don’t you like showing affection?”

I like to think there’s nothing wrong with me.  I just don’t feel comfortable with someone stepping into my personal space.  Then again, I’m fine with someone sitting next to me.  I’m fine with bumping elbows or hands.  Hey, I’m fine with shaking hands.  Maybe there is something wrong with me!

Nah, I’m pulling your leg there.  I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with not wanting to hug someone.  Growing up, I knew I was loved and I loved my family hard.  We didn’t have to show affection to know the love was there.  I hugged my mom when I was sad or when she was sad, and I cuddled with my maternal grandmother when she read to me.  That was it for hugs.  We didn’t kiss either.  (Unlike those sparse moments of hugging, we never kissed)

Teachers and friends never hugged me, and I still felt safe, happy, and accepted.  I wasn’t neglected (as I was told once when I didn’t want to embrace an old colleague) and I wasn’t abused (another comment thrown my way).  I was held a lot as a baby.  There are photographs to prove it.

When I was younger, I had no filter and if someone tried to hug me, I told him or her not to.  Age made me a little more tactful.  Now, I will hug, but I don’t feel comfortable, and I have a feeling you know it.  I get all stiff.  Rigid.  Who knows what my expression looks like.  I try to get the whole experience over with as fast as possible. 
If you see me and try to hug me, I will hug you back, and if it appears to be torture for me, then sorry.  Please don’t take it personally.  I would be more than happy to fist bump, shake hands, and/or talk.  It isn’t you, it’s me – literally.  

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