Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lovin', and Huggin', and Kissin', and Squeezin'

I grew up with a skewed sense of touch.  I was never hugged as a child.  It wasn’t that my parents didn’t hug their children, my mother couldn’t hug my brothers enough. Perhaps I was an odd child and didn’t allow the interaction on the onset, because she never hugged me. I spent so much of my life angry and hugging just wasn't an acceptable affection.  Everyone that knew me noted my reluctance, earning me a few nick names.  I didn’t trust people, especially enough to let them touch me. 

In school, I was the same way with my friends.  While many of them hugged each other, (I thought it seemed odd to me the way girls were always going around hugging each other) they didn’t hug me, nor did I hug them back.  I’m sure that was also some unconscious decision on my part. I’ve purposefully tried to change that habit over the years, especially since getting published and going to signings and meeting fans. 

I don’t like to be touched on a regular basis.  It took me years to get okay with the people at church, especially here in the Deep South who have no concept of personal space and without permission would just wrap their arms around me and squeeze, to always hug me on greetings and salutations.  Well, quite honestly, I've never become okay with the action.  I just tolerated it because I understood it was the custom.

I don't have to worry about hugging at work, because I an a professional, and professionals shake hands. That’s usually my first response when I meet someone – to push my hand out there.  It serves as both a greeting and a barrier to protect against an invasion of my personal space.

For the twenty years I was married, my husband was a gentle, caring man, but we rarely hugged and never kissed. Yet, he knew the boundaries and knew what forms of touch would calm me.  He had this way of sitting next to me and gently rubbing my arm.  It was a small amount of touch, but it had a huge result, because it would calm me, reassure me everything was going to be okay, and let me know he cared.  There were times I was afraid, and all I needed was that little bit of contact, and my fears would go away. 

When my children were little I covered them with hugs and kisses and told them I loved them all the time.  We used to have these early morning sessions before school where they fought over who got to be beside me and who loved me most.  But as they grew, I apparently taught them to hold back when it came to touching me or showing affection.  Sometimes this hurts my heart.  I know they love and care for me, but somehow I still managed to build this barrier between us. They don’t hug, kiss, or touch me, nor do they tell me they love me. When they do, it's awkward.

I don’t believe I’m opposed to being hugged, touched, squeezed or told I'm loved, but I sure do make it hard. I dream of it often. I desire to be kissed, to be caressed, and to be cherished, to be romantically persued. My fantasies are most often very simple, surrounding the act of being held. There are so many nights I curl into a tight ball and hug myself because I’m scared, lonely, and physically ache for human contact. I have wonderful friends who are always quick to give me words of encouragement when I’m down, and I love them for it.  But the ones I love most can’t put their arms me when I’m scared.  The ones I trust most can’t hold me when I’m hurting.  The ones I desire most are very far away.  Part of me wonders if that too was a subconscious decision. I’ve only ever felt comfortable and trusted one person’s touch, surely there’s another out there.

I know there is something special about human contact.  There’s something special about lovin’, huggin’, kissin’, and squeezin’. I just haven’t found the key to making it a reality, yet. I'm very comfortable being on my own now, and know that I don't need anyone in my life to be happy.  I WANT someone in my life... to hold me. If you have someone in your life you can wrap your arms around, do it, and be thankful.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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