Happiness Challenge Day 18

I am a hugger. I love giving hugs. I love getting hugs. There are very few occasions when I don’t like being hugged. If I’m angry, the last thing you want to try to do is give me a hug. That’ll work out like a fart in a telephone booth for you.

I’m a very touchy-feely person. I guess maybe that’s why I went into massage therapy. I was damn good at what I did. I still am. I was able to find knots, adhesions, and scary tissue and get it to release. The piriformis trembled at my name. When someone would come in with sciatica, I told them, “Nobody should walk around with a pain in the butt unless they married it or gave birth to it.”

I loved doing massage. At the time, I wasn’t aware of this thing called touch starvation. This is a serious problem in our society. You see it mainly among senior citizens but it is starting to affect younger people. I’m not talking about forty and fifty year olds. I’m talking about people in their twenties and early thirties. People who don’t have a partner or a friend, a companion, someone to give them a hug. Someone to rub their shoulders. They don’t have anyone to make physical contact with.

I saw a video on Facebook that was making light of such a thing. It showcases a guy about thirty years old going through security at the airport multiple times just so he could have physical human contact. If you’re on social media, you may have seen posts about days without sex someone has had and the consequences that is having on them. You’ll see things that say, “Day two hundred and twenty nine. The demon in the corner of my room that only shows up with my sleep paralysis is starting to look pretty cute. Day one hundred and sixty three. Filling out an application and in the box labeled SEX I said, “Yes,please.”

These are funny. But I think it highlights a serious problem in our society right now. If you have been watching the news or paying attention to the world around you, you have seen this has been a long time coming. And I’m talking about touch and all I can think of is, “This is a touchy subject.” There’s a lot of talk about consensual and non-consensual. It’s really hard to be on social media or look at the news and not see someone else having allegations of inappropriate behavior brought against them. I am neither judge nor jury on either side. I wasn’t there. I didn’t witness anything. But I know it’s damn hard to listen to the news and hear somebody tell their side of the story and not relate it to your own experience.

I’m not wanting to get too heavy with this. After all this is supposed to be a happiness challenge. The only good and happiness that has come out of my experiences has been the fact that I can share them and help other people through their healing. And that includes my own daughter.

You would think for someone who has been assaulted several times that hugging and touching would not be comfortable for us. That’s just simply not true. My daughter is also a hugger. Hugs are comforting for us in times of stress.

Oh, and with the holidays approaching, let me drop this wisdom for you. Neither you nor your children are required to hug. You and your children do not owe anyone a hug. At no point should you be forced or should you force your children to hug any family friend or relative. See if they would agree to giving a handshake. If not, have them wave. But, do not force physical contact on yourself or your children.

I’ve got a feeling this is going to be one of my empowering moments. Less humor,more motivation. Buckle up. Here we go.

As a female in today’s society, it is standard operating procedure that we owe things to men. We owe them hugs. We owe them a smile. If we exchanged phone numbers in the guise of friendship, we owe them sex. Again, this is simply not true. You don’t owe anyone anything. I have a friend of mine who went to the laundromat. She struck up conversation with two couples, trading military stories and such. They exchanged phone numbers thinking, “Yeah, we can hang out. We can be because friendly and friends.” One guy had his wife there. The other had a girlfriend. My friend is married. Now, this guy with the girlfriend is blowing up her phone by texting her four, five, six times a day. He’s texting her with things like, “Hey, beautiful. Hey, sexy. When can we hang out? Would your wife like to join us?” This is just wrong. Why can a female not be friends with a guy? Is it because it’s with a guy?

The language might get a little rough around here so if you’re offended I’m sorry. But I’m really not sorry because I’m not going to edit myself on this and I’m not going to water it down for anyone. That includes you, Ma. Sorry. I love you. I saw something on Facebook about the friend zone. If you don’t know what the friend zone is, let me explain it to you. It’s real simple. It’s when a guy has feeling for a woman and that woman sees him as a friend. Just a friend. Platonic, not romantic. And instead of respecting and understanding that she’s just not that into him, he decides to use her as a sexual conquest. This guy is now in what is known as the friend zone. He sees it as a challenge to get out of the friend zone. He will do this by being insistent and persistent. He will wear her down, not give up, and not take no for an answer. This is supposed to show the girl in question how much he actually loves her ans what he’s willing to do for her. So, they’ll try to do the nice guy routine. The one where they’re always there to listen to her and always be the shoulder she cries on. This is the most offensive thing in the world to me because this guy is not acting out of friendship. He is acting out of wanting to fuck her. He is just wanting to get a piece of ass. He’s not acting in any capacity that an actual friend would be. In fact, he’s looking to take advantage of a vulnerable moment to make his move and claim her as his own.

And while guys are being stuck in the friend zone, can we talk about being stuck in the fuck zone? Could you imagine what it’s like to know that you’re worth is oy based on your fuckability for someone. To know that the only reason this person is hanging out with you and acting like your friend is because they want to get laid. But we’re supposed to feel bad for someone being stuck in the friend zone?

There’s a reason you’re in the friend zone. Maybe if you were actually a friend and genuinely cared about her emotions and her well-being you could creep your way out of the friend zone. But even if you never do and she never winds up with you, are you always just going to be trying? Wouldn’t your effort be better directed toward someone who would actually care about you? Why waste your time when you could actually find reciprocated love? Instead, you’re on social media always making comments and dropping hints hoping she’ll pick up what your laying down. For the record, it’s your pride and self respect that your leaving all over the place like a snail trail.

The friend zone is not the worst thing in the world. Finding out someone was only your friend because they thought they could get a piece. That’s fucked up. Thats the kind of actions that makes trust almost impossible to gain. Its demoralizing and dehumanizing.

This brings up non-toxic touch. I know there’s someone out there reading that and saying, “Oh Lord, some more of this liberal hippy-dippy trippy nonsense.” Let me define non toxic touch. It’s touch of caring nature with nothing else to it. It’s a hand on the shoulder that is not alluding to anything else. A hand on the shoulder means, “I’m here for you if you need me.” Non toxic touch can be a hug. I know a lot of people were confused when I hugged a random person at work the other day. I had overgheard the conversation she was having with a supervisor. She had just lost her grandfather and needed to leave early. As she left, I called her over and I gave her a hug. No, I didn’t ask her consent. No, I didn’t wait for a reply. But in that moment, she needed non-toxic contact from a human being. She needed to know someone cared for her and was there for her even though no words were exchanged.

There are so many different forms of non toxic ways to show love, caring, and friendship. I used to be a massage therapist. One of the things that I do at work is massage people. I go around randomly and work on people’s necks and shoulders and scalps.. It’s a hard habit to break out of. Our job consists of sitting down a lot. It can be a high stress job. When you’re dealing with money and school and people, that comes with a lot of tension. w

We carry that in our necks and on our shoulders. I want the people I surround myself with to be happy. So, I do what I can to release that tension and stress in an HR appropriate manner. And I love that my co-workers are on board with my non-toxic touch quirks. I wore my corgi leggings the other day – and they feel nice, oh my God, my Corgi leggings feel so amazing. I was asking people, “Do you want to feel these? Come feel these. They feel amazing. Do you want to come over here and feel these?” And I had people feeling my lower legs to feel the leggings. They weren’t feeling my legs up. They weren’t groping me in any fashion. They were feeling my leggings. Which feel amazing. Are you kidding me? They are buttery soft. I would never have believed you could get buttery soft leggings for five bucks at Walmart. But I did. And I’m so glad that I have them. They make me happy. Take that happiness challenge.

That’s another thing. Can we talk about the textures that we surround ourselves with? We are clothed ninety percent of the time. What are you putting on your body? What what are you subjecting your skin to. So many times we don’t think about the types of fabrics that are touching your skin on a daily basis. I’m not saying only clothe yourself in satin and silk. But maybe the reason you’re so crabby and scratchy yourself is because the clothes you’re wearing are crunchy. Before we had a dryer, I used to have to hang my laundry up outside. There is nothing worse than crunchy underwear. They will make you very grouchy. Crunchy socks too, but a crunchy pair of underwear is just not anything you want to experience. When we got our dryer I was so happy for fabric softener sheets. Oh my goodness, thank God for Snuggle.

And speaking of snuggles, how often do you snuggle? This is mainly towards the people who have kids or partners. Do you snuggle with your significant other? Do you snuggle under blankets with your kids? There’s a big thing about skin to skin contact when children are newborn. Skin to skin contact helps brains grow. They brain grows when the skin is touched. It actually builds neurons and pathways. Touch helps to make your brain stronger and more capable of learning. Even more so, it helps you to retain the knowledge you learn. That doesn’t stop at the age of two. This continues on until the day we die. Touch strengthens your brain and your immune system.

That’s a huge problem for the senior citizen community. These arw people that are in their homes. A lot of them are by themselves. With a lack of human contact, the brain actually starts to shrink and atrophy. Their immune system drops. Depression sets and drops their immune system more.

Touch is crucial for us as social beings. And we are social beings. I’m an introvert by nature. Yes. I don’t like being out in crowds. But I still socialize with my family, people at work, and lately the fifty or so people i speak to on the phones at work. But the physical contact comes into play when I come home to my family. Everyday, I am greeted with a hug and kiss from my husband. I get a hug and smooch from my son. And sometimes, a miracle occurs when the Bunny rises from the couch or emeeges from her tomb – I mean room – to give me a hug.

I let her dictate when hugs happen. Both of us are prone to anxiety attacks. So, it’s not uncommon for either one of us to say to my husband, “I’m having a moment and I need a hug.” Those hugs are life-saving. Those hugs are the reminder that our brains need. Those hugs tell our brains, “You are safe. You are cared for. everything is okay and everything will be OK. You are not alone. I’m here with you.” And the best thing about those hugs with my husband is he won’t let go until we say it’s OK to let go. He will hold on to us for as long as we need him to. I wish that for everyone. I wish everyone had an anchor. I wish everyone had a safe base, someone that they could go to and know they can get a hug feom that person with nothing else expected of them. No expectation of payment or payback. No you owe me. Just calming, grounding, hugging.

So, today I will hug my family. I Will even ask my stepdaughter if she needs or wants a hug from me. And it’s OK if the answer is no. I just want her to know the option is out there for her. I will work on my husband’s neck, shoulders, and scalp. I will offer hugs to my daughter until she tells me to get out of her room. I will snuggle with my son tonight. I will make sure that I hug my kids goodnight. Tonight, I will enjoy the feeling of my husband’s lips on mine and the feeling of his arms around me.

Today, I will make physical contact.


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