Archive for March, 2014

Hugs, Not Thugs
22 March, 2014

A friend of mine heckled me the other day for stating that I am not a hugger. Perhaps the fact that he is a hugger affects his assessment of others. My birth mother has complained that as a child I suddenly stopped wanting any sort of physical affection. (Although she stops short of admitting why that happened.) I hug my spouse, my children, my grandmother, my cousin, and my dog but that is about it.

Fundamentally the reason is that all hugging feels like grappling to me. I interpret hugs in terms of underhooks and overhooks. I am conscious of where my hips and center-of-mass are. I am aware of the placement of my feet relative to a trip. I recognize that none of this is even remotely normal. But that is my experience.

At university there was a student from Britain who was noteworthy for his above-average and firmly-preserved personal space. The other students assumed that it was because he was British. Whilst I have heard that Scots have one of the largest personal spaces, I wonder if it was more than just his nationality.

As I have said, it is not that I am comfortable with fighting, rather that I became accustomed to it. I was too young to remember but I am sure that my transition from cuddle to skedaddle occurred when I was involuntarily dropped into combat. I learned to stay out of arm’s reach. (I wonder if I would have an even greater personal space if I had been around a kicker.) No place was safe but at least that much distance gave me a head start.

For me a brofist is about as affectionate as I get.


1 March, 2014

A fortnight past I encountered the aftermath of a bad wreck. An ambulance passed me and then I encountered the stopped traffic. A tow truck arrived and dragged what remained of the vehicle across the road and out of the way. The front of the SUV was missing, just gone.

The similarities between this wreck and the one that took my dad triggered me. I knew it immediately but did not realize the magnitude until later. In session a few days later, an image from decades past came to me. I would not call it a memory per se because it was just a flash, an instant of experience. After we had been released from hospital, we must have gone to retrieve what could be salvaged from the wrecked truck and camper. I have this sense of being in a garage, standing next to the wreckage. (Even as I type this the emotion is almost overwhelming.) The phrase that popped into my mind and stuck is “Now what do I do?”

Whilst processing the past and present wrecks, I made a surprising discovery: a strong feeling of abandonment. I would never have said I have an issue with abandonment but, in retrospect, it is should not be surprising given my childhood. Things like being left in a two-by-four-and-chicken-wire pen. Or getting separated from the group and lost amongst the buses at a stadium. Or being ditched at Disneyland by my family of origin.

My traumatic childhood left a steaming pile of anxiety for me and I have always known about my trust issues. Perhaps everyone else knew about the matter of abandonment. (My therapist congratulated me on coming out of the closet on my abandonment issues.) I think it got mixed and confused with the anxiety and mistrust. But it makes sense that it would be of significance to me since a pack means no one gets left behind or forgotten.