I've never enjoyed outward displays of affection. My parents didn't hug me a lot as a kid. Not because they didn't love me or didn't want to but because I would stiffen like a board and squirm awkwardly until they released me. I've always know this is hard for my mom in particular because she is a hugger so as I matured I tried to initiate hugs more often. I don't think even that effort was much of a success.
When Mr. Awesome and I got together I realized that if this marriage thing was going to work I probably shouldn't cringe every time he tried to hug me. Gradually I got used to his huggy nature and eventually I came to enjoy his hugs ... on a limited basis.
Then came Dude. And Crafty. And Mischief. Then I understood what it was like to want to hug and be hugged. I couldn't get enough of those pudgy baby arms, those sticky toddler embraces, those awkward teen squeezes. With my kids I am a hard core hugger and I grab them every chance I get ... whether they're into it or not.
I have had friends who have spent a lot of time breaking the hug barrier. These pals have been patient and understanding and have put up with my crazy very well. They have hugged me through many of my darkest days and I have always felt safe and accepted in their embrace but I always thought that that sense of safety had everything to do with who they were and nothing to do with the hug itself.
During the past year I have come to understand something that I previously had thought was only true for maternal affection and those chosen few hugger pals; hugs have power where words fail. Hugs transfer strength and hope. Hugs surround and protect. Hugs break down barriers. Hugs build connection. Hugs bring hearts together, physically and emotionally.
Many times during my cancer battle, it was a hug that spoke to my soul much louder than words. It was feeling the strength and warmth of those who cared about me so close that community became a tangible thing that carried me through. It was literally being embraced by my friends and neighbours that finally made me feel connected to them.
National Hug day is traditionally in January but I'm declaring today National New Huggers Day. Hug someone today. Communicate community, friendship and acceptance through a quick squeeze. Pull down your barriers and let someone feel the power of your heartbeat. Overcome your awkwardness to give someone else your strength.