Gimme A Hug

People who don’t know how to hug.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  It’s more than a pet peeve, it can be a deal breaker.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Hollywood ‘air’ kiss?  Well there’s an ‘air’ hug too.  I’m sure you’ve felt it – or more accurately, haven’t.  Someone leans his/her upper body into yours, vaguely placing one arm within breathing distance of your back and perhaps patting your shoulder.  I realize this isn’t very generous of me, but I jump to some pretty quick conclusions about people who don’t know how to hug – really hug (a caveat – I am culturally aware enough to know that in some places around the world, open affection like this is not common practice – you lucky people are exempted from my gross conclusion-jumping, which I know is wrong, but I do anyway – sometimes).

– I think you’re emotionally self-protective

– I think you’re not comfortable in your own skin

– I think I’m going to spend most of our time together trying to knock down your walls

– You’re missing out on one of the most renewing, reaffirming, loving gestures in the world

–  You don’t like me

– You’re not into nurturing

I could go on, but I won’t.  You know how much I dislike a lot of negative redundancy (positive redundancy however, is completely ok).  There is nothing in the world that feels as wonderful as a really good, wrap-your-arms-around-someone-with-all-you’ve-got-hug.  When the boys were little, we would often drive up to Westchester to see my parents.  My dad was their primary male role model – and he filled this role with enthusiasm.  He would come into the driveway as I was extricating the boys from their car seats, and they would start yelling for the “boa constrictor”.  They’d all run into the house and dad would sit down at the first opportunity and the boys would stand in front of him as he slowly  began to coil his arms around them, one at a time.  “And now” he would say, “the mighty boa constrictor winds his way around his prey”.  The boys would start to giggle and put their arms around his neck mimicking him “and I’m the boa constrictor…!”.  Slowly they would squeeze each other until their laughter dissolved the embrace, dad kissing their baby cheeks, each boy giving himself completely over to these powerful hugs.  The memory makes me cry – sadness yes, but I can feel their delight.  That man knew how to hug.  My friend Jo is an amazing hugger – she hugs so well that though we see each other rarely, I feel her hugs all the time.  Lori writes with hugs in her words – I want to learn how to do that.

I want to feel a hug so I can carry it with me.  Hugs send a message – a message of love and delight, of support and friendship, of spirit and life.  Hugs make you laugh, they can prompt your tears.  They help explain our humanity.  They let us throw our arms wide open to the world and then hold onto something so we don’t fly away, carried by the sheer magnitude of it all.  I hope you get a hug today – and I hope you give one.  Hold on with both arms.  Put your heart into it.  Tell me you don’t walk away feeling that much more connected to something wonderful.  Feels pretty terrific doesn’t it?  I told you.

40 thoughts on “Gimme A Hug

  1. I know what you mean!!! My Aunt gives the BEST hugs! BTW – I LOVE that picture with the bloodhound and the kitty – so adorable!!!!!! I don’t think that would work so well with my teenage pup! 😉

    • Thanks John – talk about serendipity, I’ve just been on your site, and signed up to get email notifications. As a retired CHRO who enjoyed being provocative and successfully irreverent in my approach to my role, I enjoy your posts from tremendously. Bravo! (I just read the one about Billy Budd – can you tell?)

  2. Ahhhh hugs, a subject near and dear to my heart! I LOVE HUGS–love givin’ ‘Em, love gettin’ ’em, and love how much you can say without saying anything at all. :-). This is a great post, Mimi (and I am tickled pink that my “literary hugs” are being received.). Thx for capturing the power of this gesture so eloquently….

    • Oh wow – I LOVE this!! Thank your nephew from those of us who aren’t cool enough or technically creative enough to come up with an icon for hugs!

  3. I am a terrible hugger. I am a germ a phobe and the thought of someone hugging me makes me want to take a bath. I guess this means I move down on a notch on your friend list 😦

    • No – it makes you an even better friend, cause you told me. So now I know there’s a really legit reason and it isn’t about any of the things I would assume. So I think it enhances our friendship, because you trusted me enough (in the cyber sense) to tell me…:-)

  4. I LOVE HUGS! Giving them and getting them. The worst for me are the people who just leave their hands down at their sides when you hug them! UGH. nothing worse.
    ((((mimi))))) hugs a plenty
    R

  5. I love to hug and be hugged, but I like to choose whom I’m going to hug, whom I’m going to kiss or be kissed by, and at times to just shake hands… sometimes a nod, or the tip of a hat. The fact that some sort of expression of affection is obligatory, turns me off right away. Some of us come in contact with a lot of people, but want their own space. You seem very liberal and open minded to me… so I suppose there’s a chance you could understand someone like myself as well.

    • I do understand very well Shimon, and I am sensitive about my personal space too. But I appreciate a good hug from someone I know and care about and have initiated a hug when someone is in pain (while first making sure that it will not make the person uncomfortable) or is celebrating a personal joy. There are people who I would prefer not to touch as well, and I think I give off a vibe when I don’t want someone to approach beyond a hand shake…

  6. What an interesting post! Years ago someone gave me a very official looking pin that said Hug Therapist on it. I thought it was very funny, but haven’t worn it for years. I knew a woman who cringed at the thought of a hug. She told me she was abused throughout her childhood by her father and older brother–that would certainly affect your protective boundaries. I try to be sensitive to what other people want and need. It is refreshing to get past that point in a relationship with a person when you never have to question, but can greet them with a big hug that you know will be welcome.

    • Thank you for stopping by!! Hugs can be so powerful (with the caveat that one has to know where the other person’s comfort is with personal space. Fortunately, I think most people give off their own ‘vibe’ which can be easy to discern), and what a compliment to you to be given a pin like that! You must be a wonderful hugger..:-)

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