An anecdote about guilt and repression…and…hugs.
J and I went out on a date on Saturday night.
(We stayed in and finished watching Mind Hunter on Netflix and started watching Undone on Amazon Prime and ate knock-off homemade burrito bowls. We’re wild and crazy, I know. The Boy can’t watch those shows and J’s early work time on weekdays prohibits us from staying up late to watch them on evenings that aren’t date nights. Anyway…)
Date Night means The Boy goes to stay over with my parents for the night. He packs a bag of video games and other assorted things to entertain himself while he’s there, because my parents aren’t really the kind to engage him. They are to him on Date Nights what they were to me growing up…required supervision to a self-sufficient kid. The Boy usually takes enough stuff with him that he needs help carrying it into my parents’ house, and sometimes he needs J’s help setting it up. So J helped him get it all into the guest room and start situating things and then The Boy said he had it from there, and J stepped in to hug me.
J’s a lot taller than me, so a close hug for us when we’re both standing up is me resting my head against his chest and wrapping my arms around his waist and him wrapping his arms around my back and shoulders and resting his chin on the top of my head. We weren’t kissing. He didn’t lift me up off the ground. We weren’t being loud or gross or inappropriate. He didn’t put his hands on my ass or anything. It was kinda like this, only I’m shorter, so…
Nothing untoward. Lots of people hug their friends and children and some folks will even offer free hugs to perfect strangers on the street that look like this. But when my mom walked around the corner to check on our set-up progress, her reaction was shock, and embarrassment, and upset. She said, ‘Oh…sorry…’ and walked back down the hallway in a pronounced hurry.
J and I exchanged a confused look…WE kinda felt embarrassed and guilty…for…hugging?
I asked my mom why she said, ‘Oh…sorry…’ and ran away and she said it was because she thought we wanted/needed privacy. For…a hug. ???
I don’t know why I was so discombobulated by my mom’s reaction to J hugging me. I guess spending the past (almost) 16 years with J and the security I have now with casual affection has finally overtaken the two decades of strict physical contact repression I grew up with. My parents didn’t hug me at all after I was 7 years old. Ever. They still don’t hug me. They don’t offer me hugs when I leave their presence or if I’m having a shitty day or if I’m proud of myself. My son gets one hug when he leaves their presence. That’s it. They don’t hug each other. They don’t hug my brother. I’ve written about this before, but that, ‘Oh…sorry…’ dragged something out to the forefront for me that I guess has always been there in the background.
My parents…particularly my mom…really do associate all human touch with romantic/sexual intimacy. ALL of it. It’s why they never touch each other in front of anyone else (and maybe they don’t touch each other much at all). It’s why they never touched me or my brother beyond parenting necessity when we were growing up and it’s why they don’t touch us now.
My mom thinks a hug is an affectionate gesture that calls for privacy.
She was embarrassed to see J and I hugging. And she heavily implied that WE should be ashamed for hugging…where she could see…where The Boy could see…
Maybe we should be ashamed for hugging each other at all.
Again, I feel the need to state again here that J and I are in our 40s and coming up on completing our 16th year together as a couple…but we should feel ashamed for…hugging?
I guess I’m writing this post as gratitude to and for J (like a lot of the stuff I write).
Because wow. I’m glad that I’m no longer living a repressed, guilt-ridden, touch and affection starved life. I’m glad our son won’t grow up that way. I’m glad I’ll never pass anyone…family, friends, or strangers…hugging or holding hands or leaning on each other or innocently touching each other in a gesture of casual comfort or affection…and feel the need to say, ‘Oh…sorry…’ and rush away.