I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.Ann Hood
Recently, a very a brave and amazing friend of mine shared something that she went through with the group. I was very moved by it. I teared up. While she was telling her story, I listened. I was amazed at her strength. I was amazed at how she managed to love, so purely, and have lost that love. That is not something I have experienced yet. To have loved so purely and lost. Her story, her strength, her love truly amazed me. I could feel the pain she had gone through. It was raw and honest. It was real.
Naturally, when talking about an event that has a lot of emotions and history attached to it, you are bound to get emotional and cry. When she started to cry my first instinct was to hug her. I wanted to comfort her, as a friend should. Another friend of mine had hugged her and stayed with her so I stayed where I was.
At the end of the day, before leaving, we all got up and she started to hug everyone. I wanted to but I couldn’t. I want to comfort her, let her know that it’s all going to be alright. I wanted to let her know that she is brave and strong for doing what she did. I wanted to let her know that I am here for her should she need someone to talk to. I wanted to let her know that she is not alone, that she is loved.
I stood in the back contemplating, should I go or is she going to come and hug me? I felt so awkward in that position, not because I am not her friend or didn’t care about her at all. It’s because I have an issue with hugs and contact with women in general. During the time I wasted contemplating, she had left.
I felt like shit. I made it all about myself rather than comfort her. I should’ve told her all the things I wanted to say in support of her. I was too weak to go and offer my support.
“What did I do?”
“Why didn’t I go?”
“Why did I make this awkward as hell?”
All these thoughts ran through my mind. I felt like shit when I got home. I had let myself down. I was disappointed in myself. I could not believe that I did not have the courage to go and comfort her. I sent her a message saying the things I wanted to say but I felt bad. This has been a running theme in my life. I thought I had grown…gotten over it but clearly I hadn’t.
My whole life I have avoided any sort of intimacy or contact with women. I believe it has something to do with the way I was raised. From an early age I had been made aware of the issues that women go through on a daily basis. Men putting women in uncomfortable positions on a daily basis. Creepy men who go in for hugs when the woman is clearly uncomfortable. Men who catcall women and harass them. Men who can’t take a hint that the woman is clearly uncomfortable. Men who go initiate a handshake and the woman is forced to comply because it’s “just a handshake.”
I grew up in a society that looks down on women. Anytime a woman tries to grow and be better, men like to put them down. Anytime a woman voices her opinion or takes a stances, men like to put them down. I grew up, surrounded by this. I grew up being aware of this. I grew up being aware of how men objectify women. I grew up surrounded by men telling me “it’s a woman’s job to take care of the house. Find yourself a wife that will cook for you and give you kids.”
How fucked up is that? A living human being is reduced to nothing but a glorified slave. There to please every little desire that you may have. I grew up with men telling me that “a wife cannot say No to her husband for anything. She cannot deny him sex or whatever else he may want. It is the husband’s right to demand these things.”
I think growing up surrounded by all these things has traumatised me. I get very uncomfortable around women regardless of if I find them attractive or not. It’s the weirdest thing ever. I have a hard time shaking their hands, hugging them or even give them a friendly tap or touch. I was told that you never shake a woman’s hand unless she initiates it first. That’s how I’ve been living my life. I guess this is why I barely had any female friends growing up. Now that I do, I have noticed how I am unable to provide the support they may need such as a hug in a time of vulnerability.
Being around this group of friends and seeing how they interact with each other makes me realise this even more. I want to be a part of this but I don’t know how to. I want be normal but I can’t get myself to act normal. I see them hugging and playfully pushing each other and I cannot be a part of that because I feel uncomfortable.
Another reason could be the relationship with my mother. From what I can recall my childhood was good. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty good. Everything that I could possibly need was provided to me. Except for the emotional support. Both my parents worked. When I would come home they’d be taking a nap because they were tired from a full day of working. After the nap, mom would wake up and get the house in order. Food, clothes, cleaning etc.
Anytime I had an “emotional” issue she was unavailable to help me deal with it. Her usual responses were “this is what happens when you trust other people” or “this is what happens when you don’t listen to me.” Both parents were very pessimistic in their way of life. They had this outlook on life where everyone is evil and you cannot trust anyone other than yourself. I think that caused me to develop this issue I have with emotional intimacy.
Displaying emotional intimacy makes me very uncomfortable. It takes me back to that hurt boy who just wanted some help in dealing with the overwhelming emotions. All I want is for someone to say “It’s Ok” I suppose. I don’t really know what I want. All I know is that I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be emotionally disconnected. I don’t want to freak out at the prospect of a fucking hug to comfort someone. I was legitimately on the brink of having an anxiety attack when I saw my friend walk in my direction and hug the people in front of me.
I guess the point of this is to let other people, who struggle with the same thing, know that they are not alone. I know I need therapy for this so that I may process it better. I do want to improve in this aspect. I do want to be there for my friends. I have no problem in striking a conversation with anyone or introducing myself to strangers. The problem arises when there is a touch of intimacy whether that may be physically or emotionally.
I do believe I have gotten better at it. I believe that me acknowledging the problems in my behaviour is a good start but I am not happy with how I dealt with the latest situation. I want to get better to the point where I don’t need to second guess anything. I can just be a good friend.
I hope all you are staying safe. Keep loving yourself and each other.