When I was in my late 20s, I was a strong independent woman who don’t need no man.
Let me rephrase that.
I was single and lived alone with seven cats. Just kidding. Zero cats. But definitely single, definitely living alone.
I partied a lot, obviously, because I was extremely popular. I led a very fulfilling life.
Shit. More lies. I got out, but my outings were limited to drinking at my friends’ homes.
Un-single friends, to be precise. I spent every spare minute with friends who were in devoted relationships. I had no single friends.
Before that, when my friends were single too, it was awesome. People wanted to stay out late and drink lots. We went to bars and lounges. I could crash in a male friend’s bed without it getting weird. I could go out with a girlfriend and not face the inevitable disappointment of having to unexpectedly be third wheel. Wait a second, you say. Inevitable + unexpected in one sentence…? Yup. Learning lessons is not one of my strong suits. And you’re right on another point: this is also another mediocre example of me incorporating a little foreshadowing into my post for ya.
It’s not like my life was shitty. And to be honest, my anxiety level at that point in my life was actually relatively low (although, I would later attribute my singledom to being too anxious to reveal any emotion to dudes). But there was a problem with my lifestyle. I was the single girl who hung out with couples, who all only knew couples, and who didn’t care to venture past their doorsteps. I never met guys anymore, and the couples physically clung to one another like two-way stage 5 clingers.
That meant there was no physical human interaction for me anymore.
And kids, I am not even talking about the dirty deed. I am talking about good clean fun. I’m talking about hugs.
Just that natural resource of human touch!
I didn’t realize it until one day when I found myself really, really craving a yoga class. Which is ridiculous because I have an exercise sensitivity. Like gluten, except with like, push-ups.
My yoga teacher always ended every class by massaging our temples during savasana. It was a simple thing, but I noticed after a while that it was the only physical human interaction I experienced like, ever. I started really looking forward to those 3 seconds where my meditation was sort of enhanced and the scent of lemongrass wafted through the air.
Sidebar: Please, seriously – be cool. Don’t ruin it by thinking for even a moment that there was any sexual element to my enjoyment of this whatsoever. There was not.
It was just those moments of human touch that touched my heart. Here was the woman who I knew on a very limited basis, who placed her fingertips on my temples after my workout, giving that to me. You’d think that there would be nothing to it. But for me, it was really important. I’ve often thought about emailing her anonymously to let her know this. But of course, I don’t want her to panic and (understandably) be concerned that she has a lunatic stalker on her hands. Ahem.
If you look into it, the human touch is actually pretty much vital to our being able to thrive. And even to our survival – I read an article that suggested that when babies aren’t hugged, even if they have all the nutrition in the world – they stop growing and can even die. You guys. Not to be super dark on Christmas – but orphan babies are dying because they aren’t hugged. Many large North-American cities have baby hugging programs where you can sign up to hug babies. YOU CAN VOLUNTEER TO HUG BABIES SO THEY DON’T DIE. They do not, regrettably, have this program in my smaller city. I checked.
Sorry, my ovaries took over for a minute there and *digressed.
There are studies that have found that human touch reduces anxiety. It slows down our heart rates. We feel protected, cared for, empathized with. We become calm.
And when we don’t get that key human contact? We can become pretty pessimistic, unhappy, unwell, and of course, alone. It’s a recipe for depression and anxiety.
Those few moments between me and my yoga instructor were helping bridging the gap between me and happiness, when you think about it. That’s because touch triggers a release of oxytocin – which is the neurotransmitting hormone that helps oversees positive social interactions. It’s essentially what is responsible for allowing us to create relationships.
Sorry, that was more science than I typically want to subject you to.
Personally, I have always been in the hugs > kisses camp. Because hugs can comfortably be longer, not sloppy, and they’re toasty warm. I’m obviously a hugger. I hug my best friends when I see them, even if I saw them yesterday. I hug Boyfriend when he gets home from work. I hug my very reluctant cats. It doesn’t have the same effect, but I hug my pillow at night.
Hugs are pretty much imperative to my recovering from a panic attack.
And that’s why I invented the Two-Minute Hug.
All it is is a hug that lasts about two minutes. It is not complicated. You hug someone, and they hug you back, and then you just keep hugging for two minutes. It does not need to be exactly two minutes. Oftentimes it only takes 20 seconds or so for the effects to kick in. I call it ‘two-minutes’ because by accepting it, Boyfriend commits himself to two minutes and cannot wriggle free beforehand if I don’t want him to.
I can go from crying, hyperventilating, and hurting badly on the inside to experiencing feelings of warmth, calm, and love within a matter of seconds. It’s like washing anxiety away. A hug just makes everything bad run down the drain.
Anytime I’m feeling even somewhat nervous, I yell/whine/blubber “TWO-MINUTE HUG” to Boyfriend, and he immediately opens his arms to me and holds me. It always works.
I recommend that everyone indulges in the Two-Minute Hug every single day. Take multiple doses. The more the better, actually. It’s addictive but in a super healthy way and your mother won’t judge you for it.
It doesn’t need to be from a boyfriend or girlfriend. You can hug your mom or dad, friend or sibling. Anyone who is willing (i.e. Do not hug your boss or young children you don’t know). I think hugging a pet totally works, too, although I would urge you to choose a pet that enjoys being hugged. Maybe a tree would work for you — I have no idea. The only requirement is that you need to feel the love.
Honestly, just go hug someone. They might be the one who needs it. You might be the one who needs it. But the lovely thing is that you both win.
So, it’s Christmas Eve. Get off the goddamn computer, and go hug your great-aunt Ida.
PS!! I was awarded the very, very prestigious Liebster Award by the beautiful blogger Pages of Paige.
I love Paige because she reads my blog, apparently, which is something that astounds me every day, and because she has a prima facie appreciation for puns. Also, because her blog is deliciously hilarious and I feel like we’d be BFFs in real life. I need to pass this award on to a few other amazing blogs – and I already know who I’m thinking of – but Christmastime = zero time for such endeavours. I mean, this post alone took me 2 weeks to write and I don’t even have a job. But I will do it, I promise, because I am so, so thrilled to have received a blogger award and I want to share that feeling.
So thank you, Paige. If you are ever in Canada, you can crash on my couch (or sleep in the guestroom if you’re fancy), and I’ll take you to see a cactus so you’ll feel right at home. Truly. Canada does have cactuses. And by Canada I mean any of Canada. My place is close to all of it. That’s how Canada works.
This also feels like a good opportunity to thank Damn Girl, Get Your Shit Together for featuring me on her blog this month. Lady, your advocacy for pumping other female bloggers’ tires is fucking wicked, and I thank you from the bottom of my black heart for choosing me, and for the new followers you sent my way, and I apologize to those followers for not having the answers to curing anxiety you undoubtedly followed me for. Although, in retrospect, I wish I’d provided DGGYST a link icon that said “FREE PORN HERE” or something, because I think it would have generated tons more traffic and I could have ended the year as a internet millionaire. Feel free to update my branding for the remaining few days of December. Also, you are also welcome on my couch/bed. We can both try maple syrup for the first time together.
*Every blog says “I digress” at one point. I promise I won’t do it again.