Confession: when I was in Miss Dimitroff’s class in fourth grade, I anonymously put a suggestion in the suggestion box asking that she not call us “honey” and “sweetie” and the like because not everyone liked being called things like that.
In fact, I hated it. It made me incredibly uncomfortable.
I’m pretty sure that’s why my mom put me in that class though– to get a dose of the touchy-feely crap she thought I needed.
Was she right?
Did I like it?
Not one bit.
So it was quite a relief when in fifth grade I moved on to the non-touchy, non-feely Mrs. Lavery aka Mrs. Slavery, as kids were known to call her. Man did I ever love that class. (That is, until I got that fateful haircut and things started going down hill… but besides that, it was good.)
Touchiness… feeliness… just not really my things. I’m kind of a cold fish. And I especially dislike hugs. Always have and still do.
Except when I don’t. Which seems to be happening more and more often. Because, as you know by now, I’m nothing if not a walking, talking, big-haired contradiction.
In high school youth group, everyone hugged at the sign of peace while on retreat. It was terrible. People did the same thing at the big CTA conference I was recently at. Terrible!
Then again… I ran five miles with my friend Marie on Thanksgiving morning. It was her first race and I was crazy, ridiculously, deliriously proud of her as she crossed the finish line.
So, once I was done taking photos of her crossing the finish line and crossed it myself, I ran up to her and gave her a big hug.
That’s not me.
Except that in that moment it kind of was.
And now I find myself completely unsure of my stance on hugging.
Another example… my friend and former co-worker Michele recently left her office next door to mine to pursue grad school at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. When she left, I hugged her, of course, because it seemed like the thing to do. But if I’m being completely honest, although we miss each other very much and it was very happy/sad when she left, neither of us really liked it because neither of us likes to hug. Except… when I went to Nashville to visit Michele a couple weeks ago, the first thing I did when I saw her in her happy bright yellow sweater on a breezy and beautiful Nashville day was give her a hug.
No explanation there either. It was spontaneous. It just happened. And I didn’t hate it.
So I grumble and groan and tell people about how I hate hugs and terms of endearment and everything touchy-feely, yet… I’m always begging Seth for what I like to call “huglets” (you know, mini-hugs) and I hug on my pup and call her my little sweetness. I could squeeze my nieces’ cheeks until they were bruised (I wouldn’t of course… just saying it wouldn’t be entirely unpleasant) and I constantly hug their little mama, my Fisky Sister. And just on Saturday night, I noticed myself affectionately grabbing my newest cousin-in-law’s arm while telling her how beautiful she was at her wedding reception.
Is it age? Is it time? Is it comfort level?
Is it exposure to some sort of toxin? Do you think I have holes in my brain???
Who knows what it is. But I appear to be going soft. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Most of the time, I’m still awkward and kind of shy and mostly uncool and definitely more of an ugher than a hugger. It’s just that lately, there seem to be more of those moments when a spontaneous hug just happens.
Except, hugs? Are all hugs really the same?
When I’m having a rough time and I talk to my dad on the phone, he always gives me a virtual hug. He says, “Ready for a hug? [squeeeeeez-ing sound!]” and I always feel better just knowing that my dad wanted to hug me. And lately, I’ve been getting and giving lots of other virtual hugs. (Related: Have you seen my friend Dawn’s most recent post?! Someday I’ll tell you about the conversations behind the scenes– talk about virtual hugs. My goodness.) And what that makes me realize is that we can hug people with more than just our arms!
We can hug someone with our words. With a smile. With a facial expression. With some cookies, a note, an email, a text, a phone call, a Facebook poke, a blog comment, a held door, an emptied dishwasher, a well-intentioned prayer, any other small thought or act of kindness. And even if you’re disinclined to actually touch, except certain people on certain occasions, like me, there’s still lots of ways to hug– to show you care.
Physical hugs sometimes.
Metaphorical hugs always.
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