My personal space bubble is getting wider and thicker as I get older. Growing up, back when I still cared about fitting in and being like everyone else, hugs were automatic, if not enjoyed. Everybody hugs, right? But why?
Honestly, I don’t like to be touched at all, unless you are a dog, in which case snuggles are mandatory and you can sit on my lap, climb me like a mountain, lick my face, and I will skritch you anywhere you would like to be skritched.
Him, I will hug. Probably more than he would prefer.
I have to have an eye exam soon, and after that I desperately need to schedule what I’m sure will be the first of a long series of painful, face-touching appointments. I’m going to need lots of drugs. The really good kind. Partially for the expected nerve-searing agony, but also because I’ll be super stressed out having people touching me.
I don’t even get my hair cut and colored anymore because there is literally no way to accomplish this without being touched, and it is also customary to chat with the stylist. I have decided to embrace the gray and see it as a fashion choice rather than advancing crone-hood. I grab my craft scissors every couple of months and whack off the dead ends and call it good.
I don’t go to the doctor, and I haven’t gotten a new tattoo in three years. These both involve way too much personal contact. I don’t want people to shake my hand or touch my arm when we’re talking. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of the talking part either, but if we can do it at a reasonable distance, I’ll probably survive. Recommended distance = text me from your house. No, don’t call. I don’t answer the phone. Phone calls are like your voice touching my ears.
No manicures or pedicures, and forget massages, because that is professional, therapeutic touching, and it’s not happening. Ever.
Still, hugging is expected, and people who enjoy it can’t comprehend that not everybody is okay with it. Any group event…so much hugging. Friends hug greetings, people meeting for the first time are all “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to finally meet you!” Hug.
And family…the hug machine cranks into overdrive. This is when I most often have to give in, because not hugging family you haven’t seen in a while is apparently offensive. Or something. I’m not really sure, because figuring out people is not my strong suit.
I try to limit hug exposure by hanging back until everyone seems to have the hugs out of their systems, then slip into the group unobtrusively. With farewell hugs, the best strategy is to edge to the outer perimeter of the group, sidling toward the door or your car, and hope a friendly wave will do. (Spoiler alert: It almost never does.)
In addition to all the anxiety I have about leaving the house and the Direwolves, the conversations I’ll have to participate in, whether there will be any adult beverages to numb some of my neurological worry centers, if I’m dressed appropriately to blend in and not attract unwanted attention, if I’ll have to use someone’s bathroom (I have developed extraordinary bladder control to avoid this situation)…I don’t really want to have to factor in hug-avoidance. But failure to remain vigilant results in far too much person-to-person contact.
It’s not that I don’t care about all these huggy people. I do. I am happy to see them. I’m stressed about it, but I’m happy. I just don’t want people inside my safety-bubble.
I’m not a germophobe. My lackadaisical attitude toward household sanitation guarantees my immune system is regularly challenged by all manner of microscopic threats and is in top working order. My aversion to touching people isn’t due to fear of illness. I just don’t like it, and I’m at an age where I’m about out of rats’ asses to give about whether I’m socially acceptable.
The struggle is real.