I got mad today. Maybe mad isn’t the right word. But it’s a word that might describe how I felt today. Along with a few other words.
How do I say this kindly, without offending anyone…. I’ll just say it.
Someone hugged me today.
And I got mad. I know, it’s inexcusable.
Do you need to know my entire history to know why this bothered me? Maybe. But for the situation that happened today, no, you do not.
I was sitting in a meeting at work. With my co-workers. We met with someone. All work related. Information sharing and gathering. You know how that goes. You listen. You talk. Thank you. Amen. Done.
Visitor stood up to leave. As is habit, I stood up. Visitor took a step. I was prepared to shake hands. But I looked up as I stood and visitor’s eyes grew large. I knew what was coming. There was only a matter of three feet or less between us. It took everything I had to not sit back down and let the visitor go flying over my shoulder and into the filing cabinet. Visitor literally lunged at me and I mentally and emotionally braced as arms were thrown around me while visitor gleefully exclaimed “I’m a hugger”.
Very dead pan (in my opinion) I said “I am not”.
Co-worker remained seated and stuck out her hand for a shake. I stepped in to the hall.
Visitor stepped out to the hall and carried on about hugging.
I was extremely uncomfortable. Unhappy.
Visitor went on to say “everyone needs a hugger in their lives”.
I replied with a smile on my face “I married mine”.
Does this seem harsh of me?
I think it does to some.
I don’t mean to be rude. I don’t mean to offend.
But I believe it is rude and offensive of anyone to assume they have the right to touch me. If you don’t know me then it is an assumption.
If you and I know one another then we know our comfort level. And that is between us.
Your being comfortable with hugging and touching others is perfectly fine. I have no qualms with how you feel. I actually understand people who are like that. I find comfort with some people being like that. But the people who I find comfort in? They are respectful of others. They do not assume because they are comfortable with touching others/strangers, that the other/stranger is comfortable being touched. Humans, many of them anyway, find great comfort in touch. I find comfort in touch. But I find comfort in safe touch. Comfortable touch.
Would it have been different if the visitor had said “can I hug you?” In this situation probably not. Because what was the need? Why do you need to hug me? Why do you need to touch me? But we don’t know how that would play out because the visitor assumed they had the right.
They. Did. Not.
In case I’m not being very clear here…. no one has the right to touch me. Do not assume that I am comfortable with you, a complete stranger in my life, embracing me against your body.
Do I trust you?
You don’t know do you?
You have absolutely no idea the anger, frustration and control you try to take from me when you assume you have any right to me and my body. You crossed a line. My boundary. I have boundaries not because I am weak and a victim. I have boundaries because I am strong and can outline them and live comfortably with in them. Maybe my boundaries were developed because others assumed they had the right to touch me at a time when I was defenseless. Maybe my boundaries were developed because I saw others hurt or abused. Maybe my boundaries were developed out of insecurities. Maybe my boundaries were developed out of respect for myself and others.
Whatever my reasons are when I say I’m not a hugger, don’t look at me like I need your sympathy or your enthusiasm for hugging. Your need to hug me does not in any way shape or form make you healthier then me. For the record, I am not broken. My boundaries are a very healthy set of life bumpers.
Never were my boundaries developed to accommodate you and your assumptions.
Just last night I was telling my daughter I don’t think her child should “have” to hug anyone. My kids know how I feel. I don’t think any child (or adult) should be made to feel obligated or guilted in to having to hug others, touch others, or let others touch them. I think that sends a very bad message that could go very wrong.
My issue is not physical touch. I am not revolted by touch. I will hug those I love. I will hug in celebration, in thanks, in mourning, I hug hello, I hug goodbye, I hug if we win and I hug if we lose. If there is not a mutual understanding of acceptance I ask if hugging is okay. What I am offended by is someone else feeling they have a right to touch me in an intimate manner.
Hugging is intimate.
It may be different levels of intimate. But it is intimate.
I just met you. I have no level of intimacy with you. And this is work. Not a social setting. You aren’t my friend’s mom who has heard so much about me she just has to hug me.
I’m not mean. I’m not trying to be mean. I’m trying to tell you that you cause anguish, discomfort and possibly fear or pain when you assume you have the right to touch others.
If you care, then now knowing this will help you be a little more aware. Considerate.
If you don’t care, then you will continue to touch others without thought or concern for other’s. You have no right. Please don’t cross that line again.
Maybe mad is the right word.