So the other day I was talking about touch with a friend. This conversation came about because someone was rubbing my shoulders in public. Although it felt nice I was a bit uncomfortable with it. My reaction to this made me think. And then I thought about it a lot and I realized, I am touched A LOT. Every day. By people that I’ve come to care about. My caregivers touch me when they help me dress, bathe, move, etc. My physical therapists or trainers touch me to transfer me, they touch my legs, my butt, my thighs, shoulders… now this is sounding erotic but it’s not. This touch is purely functional. When their arms wrap around me, it’s not to hug me but to move me and there is no enjoyment in that touch.
I was hugged a few days after this conversation and I posted a status update on Facebook that read: “Someone gave me a REAL hug today. It was nice.” This generated a lot of likes which leads me to believe that, in general, people like hugs and knew what I meant when I said REAL. A few days after that, a friend asked me what it meant when I said REAL hug and he was very curious as to how this hug went and if it was a man or a woman. So I will explain to you this hug.
First off, IT DID NOT GO LIKE THIS: You and a friend go out for coffee or tea, maybe a movie. There is conversation, catching up and then you two are on a sidewalk headed to your cars making “end-of-the-night” conversation:
You: …yeah I heard that movie was good too
Him/her: we should see that one next.
(you come to an intersection)
You: Oh, I’m that way (point to the right)
Him/her: Oh, I’m this way (point to the left)
(You lean awkwardly to the opposite side your friend is leaning, take a step forward open your arms and lightly pat each other on the shoulders. Say bye and go separate ways)
THAT WAS NOT A HUG! It was an expected social interaction! Ok, I will get on with it…the hug…
This person (I am purposely being gender neutral because this is not important) was standing and leaned down to me sitting in my chair. We both opened our arms and leaned into each other until our shoulders touched. With a full embrace our chests were touching and there was a long deep breath. As I exhaled my eyes closed and a slight smile broke the line of my face.
I go into such detail because everyone knows what a hug like this feels like and how appreciated it can be during certain moments in our lives. This hug made me happy and then immediately made me sad to think that I don’t get a lot of hugs like that and maybe it was because my wheelchair gets in the way. You know, medal and wheels aren’t squishy and stuff- not particularly conducive to hugs. And it is even more difficult when said hug is between two wheelchair users.
Just a couple years ago when I was moving away I went to say bye to my very good friend Stevie. After talking awhile it was time to say good-bye. Since we both have big clunky wheelchairs, he said, “We can’t hug, so let’s hold hands.” In that moment all I wanted was to hug him so hard and I refused to leave without doing that. It took us some tricky wheelchair moves but in the end there was a hug, and it makes me smile to this day when I think of it.
Sometimes I think people in chairs don’t get hugs that often…and just now, I rethink my thoughts and conclude that I should get out of my self-pitying, hug-lacking bubble and realize that probably everyone in this world is not getting enough real hugs or just a pure touch, a solid handshake, a genuine smile, or an authentic “How are you?”
And maybe it’s the naïve, innocent little girl in me walking through the zoo, with a red balloon in hand, looking for penguins… but maybe it’s not. Because it made a difference in my day and can you imagine what that could do exponentially?!?
Ok, let’s not get carried away, world peace will probably not be achieved with hugs, but they sure feel nice on the quest to get there!
In conclusion, I don’t think this blog actually has a point to be made so just accept my HUGS TO YOU!