Thursday, May 17, 2012

Please Don't Touch Me

I hate hugging people.

I will hug my kids and husband, but that is it.  My bubble of hugging comfort doesn't extend beyond the walls of my home, or beyond those to whom I am married or to whom I gave birth. I DREAD hellos and goodbyes with relatives. I have a negative physiological reaction whenever I am in the vicinity of these French people who moved to Rexburg at the same time as us. They are barely even acquaintances, but I am so scared that they will make me kiss their cheeks. When they come around, I almost have a heart attack. "Oh, no!" I whisper to Mike, "Here they are!" 

Listen, I know you are thinking that I must have had something bad happen to me that forces me to put up psychological "walls" and not be "open" to "hugging." But that isn't so.  Nothing bad has happened to me re: hugging. I am just not a huggy person.

Well, maybe something bad did happen to me:  One time I hugged a boy at seminary graduation. It was a heady time, my friends: the end of high school, people moving on, a lot of emotion in the air, you know? And I had always harbored a tiny crush on this person, though we were never meant to be (he was a "bad boy" type and I was, well, VICE president of the Botany Club). Anyway when we hugged I did an involuntary sort of "mm" sound. It was like the "mm"sound one usually makes while snuggling down under the covers or finishing a delightful meal. I have no clue where it came from. But it was humiliating. Much like when Hank Hill is so overcome with appreciation for his boss that he blurts out "I . . . I . . . I love you!" And it's horrible and awkward for everyone. That's what it was for me and I have never forgotten it and I can never look this person in the eye again.

And who's to say that being kissed on the lips by a well-meaning leader at Girls Camp didn't have something to do with it? I know she didn't mean anything by it, but it was gross to me. Maybe it was her proverbial "Hank Hill I Love You Moment" and she regrets it now, too. Somehow I doubt it. Something tells me she hasn't thought about it since, yet it has replayed itself in my nightmares for years. Just a hunch.

But really, I think I am just not a hugger by nature. Normally it's not completely debilitating, but there are some instances in which it is a hardship.

Like, my hatred of hugging makes it super hard to be in the Relief Society presidency.  I am not so backward that I CAN'T hug, but I never initiate it and I usually act uncomfortable and awkward. Like one time me and the R.S. pres were visiting somebody, and it was time to go. So I stood up and made for the door, but when I got to the door I knew I was alone. I turned around and to my horror, the pres was hugging the person we were visiting. What could I do? Stay at the door and give off the impression that I hate people, or make the long trek back across the whole living room and stand in line, awkwardly waiting for my turn to do a long hug with extra squeeze at the end? I chose the latter, of course, but it was against my instincts. Basically all hugging that isn't with my kids or husband goes against my instincts.

It's also hard to not be a hugger when your friend is suffering. I usually just stand there looking anguished while a friend is crying to me. Sometimes I make a grand gesture by walking over to her and weirdly touching her arm. It's hideous! I can't stand myself! I wish I could rush to someone's side, call them "sug" or "honey" and put my arm around them. Why can't I be like the ladies in "Steel Magnolias"? I don't know. I think I am a pretty decent listener--long-winded blogs aside--but I am just not a comforter. I'm not going to wrap you up in a warm, loving hug, but I will possibly leave a Wendy's gift card on your doorstep--no strings attached.

Hating to hug is hard when people stand too close to me when they talk to me. Or when they put their arm around me, or when they sit by me too close on the couch. Hating to hug is hard when I have to say a sad goodbye to someone that I know I may never see again. "I care about you," I want to say, "so let's not spoil this with an awkward hug." Hating to hug makes it hard to be friends with anybody who doesn't hate to hug as much as you, and we're a rare breed.

So anyways. Don't get your feelings hurt if I don't ever hug you. Or want to hug you, or stand very close to you when we talk. I probably will instinctively move away from you when you sit by me, but it's nothing personal.  I have simply been rendered an emotional cripple by my Girls Camp director.


  1. I'm glad we don't ever have to hug. I don't want to either.

  2. I don't like hugging either. It possibly started with the hug heard 'round the world. Never feel pressure to hug me either. Let's just high five.

  3. I hug you every time I see you and I am not ashamed. And now I might start hugging Kacy every month, too. :)

  4. Hahahaah! Sorry, maybe you don't think it's funny, but I do. And I also understand. I was blessed with the ability to hug people on my mission but not before nor after. So, I hear ya!

  5. Hi, I have an idea for a blog post. You've seen the trailer for the "Alive Inside" documentary? Very old people in nursing homes who seem nearly comatose get all spunky and talkative when they listen to music that they loved in their youth. You can watch it here: Warning: You will probably cry, but they'll be happy tears.

    Ok, so my blog post idea is for you (and maybe lots of other people) to post their lists of "What To Put On My iPad When I'm in the Nursing Home." See, I'm slightly worried that well-meaning young'uns will just ASSUME that since I grew up in the 80s, I'm going to want to listen to Tiffany and Peter Cetera and "Careless Whisper" over and over again. (Oh man, how I hate "Careless Whisper.") So I think it's important to record your preferences while you still have the chance. For posterity, see?

    So, what would spunk YOU up in the nursing home?

  6. Lisa, you had me at "nearly comatose." I'm on it. Thanks for the tip!

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