I was thinking about hugs today.
Recently, I saw a friend for the first time in a while and I think I hugged her too many times in the course of that meeting. It happens sometimes when I am feeling uncomfortable. I say something stupid involving far too many words for the situation, or I hug because I don’t know if I’m supposed to, or to fill a bit of space for which I can’t find words. I think I’m also really bad at knowing how long said-hug should last. I tend to pull away while they’re still hugging and then there’s that whole awkward end-of-hug dance. Do you know the one? And then, obviously, I think about it way too much later and am analyzing it when most people have moved on to completely normal thought processes!
That’s why those of us who are true introverts coping in a world FULL of people prefer our tendency to avoid those huggy, wordy, inevitably awkward moments.
Introvert, you ask? Yup. And proud of it. Give me a book and a quiet house and I’m the happiest girl. Give me a room full of people and I’m a mess on the inside dreading small talk like the plague.
I wonder often if this is just me since birth or some product of my environment.
I don’t like to be a blamer of childhood so I won’t venture too deeply into the vaults of my memory for this one, but I will say that ours was hardly an affectionate family. Imagine four people living in bubbles that never joined and that should sum it up. Our family never hugged, snuggled, wrestled, tickled, or used laps for comfort. I know my dad loved me, but I’m pretty sure he thought any affection with his daughters was somehow inappropriate so he just kept his distance. I did try to hold his hand occasionally, and I distinctly remember wanting to as a little girl, but somehow I sensed his discomfort and let go. With my mom, I just don’t think she ever wanted to be near us. Other factors help prove that point.
Close to adulthood, some hugging happened, but mostly in public and rarely genuinely.
This led me to having my own issues with personal contact.
Since I knew this about myself, I made a conscious choice to change when I had children. But strangely enough, it was the easiest thing in the world for me to shower them with affection. Granted, we’ve never been much of a kiss-on-the-lips kind of family (like my husbands family, God bless ’em), but I still hold my grown son’s hand and snuggle my girls when they let me.
To clarify, I tell my children that I kissed them all on the lips until they got old enough for their breath to stink, and I don’t think that’s the least bit unreasonable.
My Addie has this natural aversion to physical touch. Give her a hug and she will cringe. Well, if you do she will. She’s just gotten used to us. She’s not the girl who climbs into her daddy’s arms for a snuggle despite his willingness. Granted their have been moments for that, but not on a typical day. She just prefers for no one to touch her. She hasn’t always been this way. Mostly in the last few years. And she’s one of my extroverts! I really have no doubt whatsoever that she will overcome this as soon as she has that first baby.
As an adult, I had to learn what affection should look like. Isn’t that weird? Like, when we led youth group, some of those girls would practically sit in my lap and snuggle, and I probably sat with my eyes bugging out of my head trying to look like this felt normal. They sure thought it was! Funny how much those beautiful kids taught me. And through friendships. Beautiful ladies have sat with me during rough moments and held my hand or kissed my cheek. It helped me learn how God gave us each other to feel His touch.
So, next time I see you, please don’t mention the awkwardness. I’m sure it will just make things weirder. Just hug me anyway and it’ll be just fine!
For now, this has left me a bit uncomfortable even in my own skin. I think I’ll go find Christian. I need a hug.