I Miss Hugs

I have gotten too good at going it alone.  I am an affectionate person who has learned not to be touched.  I live, work and travel alone.  I eat, sleep and dance alone.  My wires got crossed somewhere along the way, COVID was far too easy for me.  I only started to question it, question why social distancing was so easy for me and ponder that maybe that’s not something to be proud of, when a girlfriend told me how  badly she was doing, how hard she was finding all the screen-time hang outs to be.  I, on the other hand, have been disappointed when someone wants to meet up for a socially distanced walk instead of Zoom.  I prefer the safety of the Internet for my friendships, the comfort of getting to remain in my house alone and still see my people.  

I went over three years without sex.  Thirty-nine months without being touched, cuddled, held or slept beside.  During that time, a yoga teacher came up behind me in class and made an adjustment to my form.  When she put her hands on my back and hips I gasped and my eyes welled up with tears.  In that moment I came back into my body.  I hadn’t noticed the effects of the time-lapse because I couldn’t see what I couldn’t see.  I couldn’t see that  I was getting stiffer and stiffer and more and more disconnected from my body having no one to connect to through it.  I am an incredibly affectionate person who had no one and no thing to affect.  That moment felt like the moment you get outside of the city for the first time in months and, without realizing you weren’t up until that point, you begin to inhale fully.

Sex caused me a lot of sadness in my twenties.  I mistook sex for intimacy a number of times when I was younger and lost my heart and dignity in the process.  I was looking for one, settling for the other, losing pieces of myself in the process.  The year I spent as a nanny I received more physical touch than any other time of my life.  It was a hard year as I was new to the job, the city and the life, but those little ones constantly putting their hands on me gave me a comfort and grounding that made all the other stuff easier to bear.  The alone did not go unnoticed, but the touch made it all less lonely.

And now, being a single, introverted person who lives alone 14 months into a pandemic: I miss hugs.  I miss touch.  I miss being close to people.  COVID hardly changed my lifestyle, but seeing the effects it’s had on the lifestyles and mental healths of others has opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing and where I’ve been selling myself short.  To protect myself I closed all of my gates to all travelers instead of just doing a better job of determining their intentions and my expectations.

My Gran died in another province this month.  The family there grieved together, the family here grieved together, alone.  I am now used to crying alone, I’ve done a lot of it over the past year.  I’ve gotten good at it in the sense that I am incredibly patient with myself.  There is no fighting it, no rushing it, no failing to understand it.  I am the confidant I always wanted.  I miss being touched.  I miss my friends and parents.  Finally, 32 years and 14 months into a pandemic: I miss hugs.

Published by Pam Stewart

I am a writer living in Victoria, BC, Canada. I got my start in spoken word and am now a frequent contributor to Elephant Journal. My writing is the result of a deep dive into the world of self-help. I don't profess to know how others should do it, but am interested in having the conversation. I think there is real value in revealing our blindspots, our vulnerabilities and our fears; which is what I am trying to do through my essays on mindfulness, self-exploration, and living honestly. I have found God through writing, which is to say, I have found myself through writing. My book, I Really Thought It Would Be Easier Than This, is available now.

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