To Hug, or Not to Hug. That is a question for people all the time. And for others, no question at all.
Before I start, let me preface this by explaining that I am a well-known anti-hugger.
I couldn’t stand to be touched for years. I thought that my touch phobia was brought on by motherhood and the constant clinging that I associate with being the parent of a small person or three.
I am certain that there are mothers who will agree. It’s a bit disconcerting when you lose your body to a Klingon. When you finally start to have control again, the appeal of being touched has diminished. Certainly, if there’s a defining moment in adulthood, it’s when you mutter to yourself, “If I could have one wish it would be to get to go take a shower, alone, and maybe even pee without company once this week.... just once.”
I took some pride in my anti-hugging campaign, and it became sort of a thing. People would threaten to hug me and I would grimace, cringe, or duck out and avoid the contact all together.
To top it off, runners are touchy people. They seem to enjoy nothing more than hot sweaty gross hugging. After a run. On the street. At Marathon Training Team. During the run. In Starbucks. Runners are weird, and huggy.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like the person who was hell bent on engulfing me in their hug, it was that a hug did not sound like a safe or even reasonable option.
And all this seemed fairly innocent until my husband and I divorced. Without going into gritty and unnecessary details, I’ll try to explain that my ex and I had a tumultuous relationship. There were times when it was full of passion, but for the most part, it was full of angst. We were, ironically, laughing about it this week when we were exchanging the children. Never a day went by when we didn’t have some kind of heated exchange of one kind or another.
During the divorce process I went to see a therapist. Anyone who is strong enough to process a separation without a therapist is truly stronger than I can imagine being, or they have friends far more tolerant than I ever expected of my friends. I relied on my Therapist, and found hours of sense and reason in her small warm office. One day, during one of these appointments, I was telling her a story about something that happened in my life and she said, “Well, that explains the PTSD symptoms you’ve been exhibiting for the past 6 months.”
“Yes. You know, the anxiety at loud noises, the ‘waking’ dreams you are having that are actually repressed memories, the physical symptoms of illness when you are exposed to a stressor, and the touch phobia you describe in exquisite detail... there’s more than that, but it’s PTSD.”
As though having it explained to me unlocked a door, I was suddenly flooded with repressed memories. I broke out in hives, threw up in class, freaked out when my former upstairs neighbors fought, and in general, had a little break down.
My therapist was thrilled.
But my symptoms got better. And better.
Until I accidentally hugged someone one day. It was so odd. But its how I knew I was better.
Within a few months of being released from therapy, I was on hugging terms with all kinds of folks. People who’d been trying to hug me for years, my children, my Good Dr, my friends like Catalyst J, MCM Mama, and others...
I hugged a waitress I didn’t know recently. I hugged my massage therapist after a particularly violent deep tissue massage.
And I am coming to grips with it... I am a hugger now.
I am GBA GF, and I’m a hugger.