Every once in a while my husband will say to me, “You must not have been given enough hugs when you were growing up.” He says this because I am not a big hugger. I do not subscribe to the “you need 12 hugs a day to be happy” theory. I do not feel as though I need hugs in order to be happy, or know that I am loved.
But he is right, I did not receive a lot of hugs when I was growing up. The first time he said this to me, I felt really insulted because it felt like a judgment. Actually, it still feels like a judgment but it’s one I am able to accept as based in truth. I never connected my lack of hugging skills to my childhood until he brought it up. I got defensive because it hit a nerve. I felt like he was telling me that I was not a loving person because I do not go around shouting I LOVE YOU a million times a day or grabbing my children or him and insisting we hug the life out of each other. I find him really needy with all this hugging business and it irritates me because I am not needy in that way. It’s hard for me to understand what the big deal is about hugs.
You see, for me, a hug means nothing if five minutes later you’re on my case for not cleaning out the refrigerator. I’d much rather be shown love than be told I am loved. It’s the old “actions speak louder than words” routine that I live by and subscribe to.
This hugging thing has made me think about how much we are products of our upbringings. Our childhoods are spent soaking up information which shape us. We move through the world based on how we learned to live while we were growing up. If you haven’t been hugged a lot, you do not know that you should miss it or that you should do it regularly without being prompted or asked, which is what happens all the time with me.
I cannot pass by my husband without him saying he needs a hug. I have to consciously tell myself not to look annoyed or let out a big aggravated sigh because that’s my first thought when he keeps requesting them. I am thinking, “Don’t you see how I do everything for you and can’t you make the jump from that to knowing that I love you?” Because that’s what I do. I see the things he does and I instinctively know without being told that I am loved. A five second hug doesn’t change anything for me. It seems simple enough to me.
I worry, though, that maybe I have failed my children in the hugging department. I mean, just because I don’t require hugs doesn’t mean that others might not need them. And it's not like I never hug them, because I do--just not every single time they pass by me like it seems some people do. I trust that they know that love is more than words or hugs. It’s the day to day living and giving and nurturing which translate into love. I think back to my childhood and ask myself if my lack of hugs made me feel unloved and I can honestly say that no it did not.
I find hugging superfluous and have to force myself to hug all the time because it does not come naturally.
But that does not mean I love any less because I don’t.