I’ve never really been a hugger. In college its like people find validation in the number of hugs they receive/give with reciprocation. Someone is always trying to hug me and it drives me absolutely crazy. The conundrum that I so often find myself in is that if I deny the hug, a person feels that I don’t like them, but if I accept the hug, as per custom with open arms, squeals, and a smiling face, then the people around me are led to believe that I enjoy the ridiculous, friendly gesture and are then so incline to wrap their filthy limbs around me more, and more often. But the thing about hugs is that such a simple form of human contact, something that people participate in almost daily, can mean so many different things. For me, a hug means that I need you.
Do you remember the first time you cried? I sure don’t. But parents tell you things. They tell you the reasons you would cry when you were pocket sized, and how as you aged you learned to abuse the system. I’m sure you remember the tears that seemed to flow endlessly until you got an ice pop. You know, the freeze pops that were basically just colored sugar water. The one’s that summer just wasn’t complete without. Those were the days. But do you remember, right before the pop, the moment when your parent took a look at your right knee, which had lost some skin to the pavement after you crashed your tricycle for the first time? Do you remember when they scooped you into that never ending bear hug? The type of hug where your tiny little peanut head fit perfectly into their neck and they just held you as you cried and they told you that everything would be okay? Do you remember that feeling? Safe. In that moment you feel like nothing can touch you…
But, back to the crying bit… that’s not the only memory I’m talking about. I’m talking about the first time that you were so emotionally wrecked that you broke down…and you knew you couldn’t get through it alone. I’m talking about that day in fourth grade when you came home from school and the minute you got off the bus you shed giant golf ball tears as you ran to your house. I’m talking about when you lost that best friend that you thought you would have forever, or the first time your heart broke. Those times when you needed that shoulder, when nothing else could get you though aside from that feeling that you had when you were three, and your mom or dad would just hold you and let you cry. And they might have said a line like, “let it all out”. Do you remember?
At a certain age I decided that crying was a weakness and that to cry at all was ridiculous…let alone crying in front of someone. Or, God forbid they try to make you feel better while you are emotionally unstable. After I turned six or seven I just shut down. When my parents would try to comfort me I would yell at them to go away or if they tried to touch me I would scream like their touch was acid.
What I’m trying to say here is that I never felt safe. I am not even comfortable enough with my own parents to allow them to comfort me. I don’t like touching people, or allowing others to touch me because even that small amount of comfort, that little human moment, shows that I have a weakness…that I have flaws. I refuse to feel broken. But recently I have realized that I might not need repaired, but rather, saved.
I have forced myself to rely on no one and in doing so have pushed everyone away. But there are times when I attempt to let my guard down and I am just hurt worse.
Sometimes you meet a person whose presence alone makes you feel better. They make you feel warm the way your favorite blanket does on a cold night, or warm you from the inside out like a cup of tea. I use to feel that way with you. Safe.
Now, it feels like my insides are on fire and to extinguish the flames all I have to do is reach out and touch you. Sometimes that comfort, that safety, is just out of reach.
When I’m with you I’m locked in a cage aflame and the key sits on the welcome mat. I’m so close, but always without.