Over on Friday's TAKE TOO post, I joined in a little round of hugs. Many years ago the gift from a client of A Little Book of Hugs was received and it struck me at the time to think 'what is the state of the world that we need instruction on hugs?' The giving of the book itself brought up a point. Giving it to one such as myself, known for hugs, was a pretty safe bet and a warm extension of a relationship already understood. The thought arose, though, as to whether the book might be given by one to another where the lack of hugs had been felt? In the role of counsellor and in therapeutic healing environments generally, hugs - or the refusal of them - can reveal so much more than words.
Another client once said "your hugs feel like coming home to me". Honour indeed, but it had to be accepted in the context that the person concerned had been hug-deprived for many a long year. There were very many who would not have accepted a hug even if it were offered; and knowing just when to offer and when not is something of a skill in itself. Even as a hug enthusiast, there have been the odd times when I have not wanted to accept one, for the simple reason that I did not trust the nature of the hug being offered, whether on an instinctual, physical level or on the basis that there was implied control which came along with it.
There are those in the world who, culturally, will not participate in public hugging. Then there are those who learn that hugging leads to negative experiences.
Perpetrators of such hugs are, in many ways, more damaging than wielders of weapons (not that such is anyway being condoned!). There is no need for me to give you graphic breakdowns of the walking devils who would lure the innocent and betray the trust of love. I have seen the results of that. The flinch at any approach, the abhorrence even of being touched. The veil in the eyes.
It has also been my privilege to see the dawn of affection again in such lives. Trust restored in an act that is universal and so necessary.
It has been appropriate at times to advise others, who are desperately seeking affection, not to 'chase' hugs; equally there are more who have needed it pointed out that their demand of hugging is little more than a threat of bondage.
Hugs, like any language, require correct usage and interpretation.
It is a language the better for being practiced. This much I know.