I’m a hugger. I think people fall into two camps when it comes to this oft times public and spontaneous show of affection – you’re either into it or you’re not. This human style of endearment suited me well for the first four and a half decades of my life – I certainly took both giving and receiving a good cuddle for granted anyway until Adult Onset Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD) made its unwelcome and progressive presence known in my world.
I have had pause to reflect on my hugging penchant lately especially after very dear friends of ours came for a Saturday evenings dinner and drinks recently. I enjoyed the best bear type greeting hug I’ve had from a friend in such a long time and I really, really loved it (some folks have just got it) but I couldn’t adequately reciprocate and haven’t been able to for some time. We as humans are an affectionate and emotional species. We need to touch – to seek energy from each other. We use hugging and cuddling as an extension of our feelings and a reciprocation of love, warmth and solace. We cling together when we are cold, lonely, scared and sad. We hug to be intimate and to feel loved. We embrace in warm and hearty greetings. And we cuddle because sometimes – well – it just feels good.
I have been on the receiving end of a squeeze from a few excellent huggers in my day – my first true bear hug mentor was my big, tall and verbose Uncle Jim who would encircle us with much gusto. My father in law was also a champion who fortunately for me passed that trait onto his son. My sister and her arms are also effusive in this affectionate activity. I have a few close friends who are great with a cuddle too so I certainly haven’t been entirely devoid of this form of contact.
Nothing makes a hug more awkward than being seated in a wheelchair though and not just because I have been unable to respond in kind for a few years now as fully as I would like. When I could stand, unassisted but very unsteadily, I would be fearful of falling. Now I am in a wheelchair it can be a bit unwieldy at times for people to bend over either due to the space around us; their physical limitations; the fact that getting your arms around someone seated is problematic or their fear of hurting me in any way.
Finally, in the last two years my arms have weakened enough that raising them and then being able to use any normal squeezing pressure is getting nigh on impossible. Forget about the holding of ones arms out to invite your intended into them – my new T- Rex arm style just doesn’t cut it anymore. When meeting an acquaintance, the cues that we silently give to one another to gauge whether we are going for the hug are skewed and can make for awkwardness – although even when able bodied I think we have all had THOSE moments.
So I have concluded that I will simply ask for a hug now and will telepathically transmit my return embrace. I am happy to be all take and just give in spirit . I hope you understand.
F*&^# you LGMD – I remain a hugger.