As Valentine’s Day swiftly approaches, memories of last year’s Valentine’s Day come to the surface. On that day, a friend’s unexpected, platonic hug provided a fleeting sense of comfort, allowing me to take a much needed deep breath.
For some reason, perhaps the Valentine’s Day atmosphere, I permitted myself to quietly accept this hug and savor this much needed moment. However, almost immediately, I withdrew everything back inside and haven’t released it since.
Now, almost a year from that hug and that breath, I've decided to revisit the experience. I want to explore if there has been any progress, if anything has changed within me, or if I have allowed anyone else in during this time.
Being Truthful About Craving Physical Connection is Critical
The sad, but honest answer: No.
The truth is, I want that breath. I want someone to come up and hug me again. Unexpectedly, warmly, safely.
But sometimes things get in the way for many of us. Maybe your loved one is still in the active addiction mode. Maybe they are in the depths of early recovery, and just trying to stay sober from one day to the next. Or, perhaps a mood or personality disorder renders your loved one unable to step into this space as they navigate their own terrain.
For whatever reason, touch can get lost in the shuffle of the everyday, whether by choice or chance. As a result, this can affect our mental and emotional health.
Research shows that experiencing physical touch triggers the release of oxytocin, often known as the “cuddle hormone.” Hence, physical touch can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhance immune system function, and provide relief from pain.
So if we are lacking physical touch in our lives, it is our responsibility to pursue it. Because in the end if our loved one cannot give us that hug, I realize that it is all, really, just an excuse.
Seek out Touch to Prioritize Your Own Well-Being
So with that being said, it is truly time to be honest with ourselves. Admit to ourselves what we want and need, even if it is something as personal as touch. And then, go out and find it.
So for me, here are some things I’ll finally admit to, in hopes that you might also make some progress in the things that you desire:
- I want someone to unexpectedly hug me. Safely, openly, honestly, allowing me to breathe once more.
- I will receive you with open arms when you come up and talk to me. I want people to know I don’t always pick up on things. If there is something you want from me or need me to know, tell me.
- I will almost always, undoubtedly love you. You can be my friend, the old man in the movie, the lost dog, or a person in need on the street. I will want to hug you and love you.
- Even though I crave it, I’m nervous about touch. When you’ve been through trauma, you fear rejection almost immediately. You not only fear it, you expect it. You prepare for it. Yet, I still crave connection beyond fear.
- "That moment” when everything comes together. I want it. The elusive dream we all harbor, but rarely dare to pursue. You know the one we hold in our heart, but never allow ourselves to consider it. Ya that. I want it.
The prospect of the next hug fills me with anticipation— a chance to once again breathe freely and safely, and happily once more. Maybe even, this Valentine’s Day.