PRO Hugs (Topic#014)

Giraffes

Giraffes

Hugs. Touch. Physical contact. I believe hugs are possibly one of the most important things in my life. I actually doubt anybody in my life knows it. My life is literally not worth living without the potential for some kind of platonic physical contact (e.g. a hug).

This is kind of weird because of my asperger diagnosis. If you’re familiar with that, you might expect me to avoid a lot of touch. Which I did. I never hugged my friends in elementary school, which was very common at my school. My best friend asked me once why we never hugged like everybody else did. I tried but it was very, very awkward for me. I did hug my mom goodnight. My dad is more on the autism spectrum than I am, and he did not hug me (which did not seem weird to me at all). I actually recall the last physical contact we had when I was little. I was younger than 5 years old, and I had asked him to read to me. We had done this before– I sat on his lap while he read to me. Don’t ask me why– it has NEVER seemed weird to me until this very moment as I type this out– but our seat was the toilet (with the lid down). On this particular day, I sat down on his lap and water started flowing out of the toilet. It must be that the toilet was clogged or whatever, but I believed we/*I* had broken the toilet. I was afraid of the toilet anyway. I didn’t ask him to read to me again for many, many years (sometime in elementary school, when he’d read my horse books to me [I’d be in bed already, and he’d sit somewhere in my room], often making up horrible things and I’d have to stay alert and notice when things didn’t fit in right, like suddenly two of the wild mustangs would fight to the death. I’d be horrified at first, but then we’d get a good laugh. I love those memories ❤ ).

Come middle school, our family’s dynamics were extremely complicated. I don’t want to go into it here and now.

But there came a point when my mom and I no longer hugged goodnight. I had no contact with anybody. This coincided with the onset of my first severe depression, but I am not trying to imply that one lead to the other. It was just very, extremely complicated. As middle school went on, I remember writing in my journal about how I had no potential for hugs at all. I was so lonely and so depressed. I wrote that the only contact I ever had was when people bumped into me in the crowded school hallways.

In 8th grade, I had one teacher who braved potential lawsuits and would actually rest a hand on students’ shoulders. Once, when he could tell I was severely depressed, he actually gave me a hug. I froze. I didn’t dare even breathe, it was so special to me. I started staying later after classes, hanging around more, heading past his portable after school, etc. Sometimes he would be there. We would talk. If I was extremely lucky, maybe we’d be heading out of the portable at the same time and maybe he’d pat my back or something as I left. It was everything completely innocent in every way and it meant the whole, entire world to me.

Now, all along I was also learning to wrap myself very tightly in blankets for the pressure sensations I needed. I also would pile heavy blankets on my bed. I literally slept with 7 heavy blankets on my bed. I needed the pressure. This is long before a diagnosis of ANYTHING. To this day, I sleep with as much weight on me as I need, even if it means wearing very cool clothes to bed or lowering the thermostat.

Anyway, high school was better. I started getting along with my parents again. One day, I actually decided to start tucking my mom in at night, and at some point we started to hug goodnight again. My dad would let me hug him before I would leave on an airplane and upon my return. I had boyfriends who hugged me. I don’t recall ever hugging my friends still.

College years {Dear God}. There was hugging. The first year, it was all well and good. I believe I was actually re-introduced to the concept of hugging my friends. The second year, well, that doesn’t count. I had to hug the young woman I had accidentally started care taking. But outside of that, all was lost. I was starting to have a breakdown anyway (it’s complicated) but a huge part of what came up in me was a strong, strong, strong clinginess I think I will talk about in a future Topic post. (I would literally start to cry when people would leave the table after a meal, for example. But a strong desire within that was also for a hug / contact / to be held, etc.)

When I got back, and had to attend therapy twice a week, I essentially begged my therapist (who turned out to be a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE therapist and was eventually run out of town) to hug me. It had become basically the only thing I wanted in the entire world. I was only hanging on to the world by a thread at that point, and my focus had reduced to one thing: hugs. He did eventually agree to it. He was kind of fatherly, I remember that feeling. He had it on some checklist or something, to give me a hug at the start of the session. Only he kept forgetting and only would do it when once he’d start looking at his notes, so I felt like he didn’t really care. That took away some meaning for me. During this time, I spent most of the week laying on the couch in the fetal position. The only thing I could think about was waiting for my next therapy appointment, and specifically a hug.

Once I started getting better, I met people. I dated. I did also have a male friend who was HUGE into hugging. I wasn’t interested in him romantically, but I SO LOOKED FORWARD to the greeting and goodbye hugs. He was huge into hugs, hugging anyone he knew and anyone he’d met. And he was the kind of person who had that enveloping, safety, comforting sort of hug. It’s so hard to type all of this out but why be ashamed of it? It’s all I lived for at times.

Even now, when I came here after my divorce and mental breakdown leading up to it, it was my uncle’s welcoming hug that seemed most vital. When he asked what could he do to help with my depression, I told him a two hour hug every day would do the trick. Of course that hasn’t happened, but he didn’t ever mind if I said I needed a hug. When my therapist asked, after several weeks of therapy with her, why I was feeling more stable, I was too embarrassed to say the entire truth. I said, I was feeling more secure…that I could stay here for now. Really the sentence was, I was feeling more secure that I can have a hug when I need one.

If these feelings are “wrong” or shameful or embarrassing… It really doesn’t matter. It’s me. It’s a part of me. It’s one of the central, core motivators in my life. It’s life blood. It’s the air I breathe.

And I’m very damned sure that a whole ton of people right now, at this very second, could really, really use a hug.

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3 thoughts on “PRO Hugs (Topic#014)

  1. Pingback: Today’s Goals: Improved Mental Focus | innerdragon

  2. I understand. I feel the same way about hugs but they have to be from certain people. I often feel starved for physical affection. My boyfriend lives in another state. I do not get hugs when I need them. He will hug me anytime , when I do see him, but it is far in between.
    I hug the dementia patients at work, the ones that like that. I hold their hands and that is helpful to them and me.
    Annie

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  3. I think physical contact is important to all human beings, it’s kind of the way we are made. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed by. My own life is kind of “hugless” I guess, but my alienation from the rest of the world is basically my own choice, or at least the result of my own disability, so it probably doesn’t affect me quite as much as it would other people, but even I feel the need at times for human contact. So I’m just thinking that people that don’t have my disability, must feel that need on a much more regular basis. I really do hope things work out for you. You deserve all the good you can get out of this world.

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