You know when you come back from a long day at work? Deadlines are coming up and your hours are stretching out into times that they have no business stretching into.
When you splash your feet in an indeterminately muddily deep puddle and start to question what else life will throw at you today.
Because it’s just quite simply been that sort of day when an asteroid might as well hit.
It’s when you’re in those sorts of mood that you come home from work and see that the dishes still haven’t been done from two days ago and your son’s stupid sports equipment is draped over the kitchen floor like it was meant to be there. It wasn’t. And you feel like you’re about to cry. Kids mean well lots of the time but when they’re careless it can really cause you to wonder why you bother with it all. But then, lo! What is that vision before you?
Your husband walks in the door five minutes too late to prevent you seeing the nonsense, but not too late to prevent the meltdown which is threatened. It was raining outside. You remember that fact. You remember that when he drops his briefcase to the floor and enclosed you within a big bear hug inside the shell of his suit. It’s all awkward angles and limbs and strange smell from his lunch still inside his jacket pocket.
But it’s perfect. Utterly, effortlessly, commensurately perfect.
It’s because you love them. It’s because you feel safe there. But mostly, it’s because it’s exactly what you needed then. Sometimes you don’t even realise what you’re missing until you are presented face to face with the material reality of it’s absence. We must always remember that what we acclimatise to is not a marker of what we can bear long term, nor a reflection of what we deserve to experience. We’re better than that; we are worth more. Simple as.
But yes, back to the purpose of today’s assemblage: hugs.
Love them or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that they are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Granted, some people are sensitive to touch, intimacy and physical contact and that is absolutely to be respected, but for those of us open to the warm embrace of all that a hug offers, gather round. We’re about to start a circle of positive affirmations about it.
Hugs represent the ultimate reciprocated gestures. Sometimes you will see a person from hundreds of metres away and start running into each other’s arms. You know that there is no fear or qualm that that will be fail to be reciprocated or followed through. With a hug, it’s impossible to be satisfied with a limp or half-hearted hug. Therefore, it’s go big or go home. No in betweens.
To feel the arms of the person you love around you – is there a greater feeling?
It doesn’t even need to be romantic. Platonic and filial works just as well, if not better, because that is a sensation rooted deep into the boughs of who you are. Childhood and nostalgic comfort. Security. Safety. The sensation of feeling loved. All these hallmarks of emotionally complex realities that you took for granted when you were younger. We all did.
We all always assumed that there’d be someone there to love us unconditionally. Let me be clear, there always is someone who is there to love you unconditionally. Your friends, your family, your relatives. Lovers. You, yourself, believe it or not – you do count! But all that is great in childhood memories is there too in the humble hug.
You can take your third base, fourth base anxieties and insecurities, because I personally believe that personal intimacy will always peak and tap out at the level of hugging. It’s carnal after that; pleasure and physical touch – and trust and that’s excellent, truly.
However, the hug doesn’t pretend to offer someone else something or some act that you will never repeat again.
Or that is theirs exclusively, as is the case of kissing, sex and many other physical contracts. What a hug offers is personality. Uniqueness. A hug can be different every time. Each person. Offering something important, distinct and valuable to each person. That’s why we hug to console each other in groups. At funerals. Weddings. In park runs, and at the end of a Gilmore Girls marathon.
We need to share in the lives of other people. Make contact, but also receive feedback ourselves. Feel others and find ourselves felt, received. I’m starting to sound like a dodgy therapist here, but stay with me. What I mean is that in hugging someone it’s not a solitary act. It’s one that stresses the unity between two people, that connection. Sometimes hugs can bring one another to tears. Sometimes hugs can stop the tears altogether. We love to see it.
You can also see just how bad a day someone is having by how hard they cling to you and how long they linger in the hug.
The unspoken rule of society is to never be the person to withdraw a hug if another person initiated it who seems like they need a little more comfort. A hug can, in short, make someone’s day, and possibly their month. That’s the power of physical connection and emotional trust that comes hand in hand with just how ready you are in that moment for a hug.
It’s a form of release and a form of connection. It’s not one to scoff at when your Granny comes in for a great big hug at the latest family gathering. Just earnestly gather yourself, brace yourself for the squeaky ear kisses that she revels in giving and making us squirm, and soak up the affection.
We all need validation, support, love and affection. Don’t waste time looking for it in places where won’t be. Easier said than done, I’m aware.
But you owe it to yourself to go and find your nearest family member and solicit a bear hug from them. Right now.