Thursday, January 26, 2006

“Girl, Someone’s Got to Teach You How…”

Today I ended a journey I began last August. During one of the final weeks of August I found myself meeting more people than I ever had in my life. I was shaking hands with ex-prisoners, individuals suffering from what is believed to be some of the most disturbing mental illnesses, individuals who just wanted a friend, and individuals who wanting a hot meal.

From August till today I found myself working several days a week with the homeless population on the Southside of downtown Fort Worth. This experience has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever experienced. Now THAT is a lot of “experience” as you could probably tell! ;)

I helped individuals in many ways, as they too helped me by showing me where the light was in many “dark” places.

So, as the time for my departure approached, many of the individuals I had had the opportunity to work rather closely with began to see the end more and more in focus.

One of my most treasured experiences during this internship came from a women’s discussion group I co-lead with my fellow intern. This group averaged about 8-10 women around the ages of 48-58. There’s no doubt these ladies grew to treasure out Thursday meeting times, as they often would express that to us. So, with that being the case, today’s final meeting together brought a time for embracing at the end.

Now let me give you more of the setting…

My fellow intern and co-leader is a big-time hugger. That’s great. No problems. Now I am not a hug initiator, but I have no problem with them.

So as the ladies began to come up to us to give us hugs, I gladly accepted.

So as my final hug came around, it was a lady who has definitely been my favorite client to work with and to have in the discussion group during the whole semester.

She gave me a hug and I remember as she walked off, we heard her sniffle. I thought that was cool…

So as then my fellow intern and I began gathering up our things from the living room area that we meet in. Everyone else had left the room, but then “my favorite client” kept coming in and sort of walking around and then would leave, and then come back again.

As I have always been one that is big on observing people’s behaviors, I was carefully noting her behavior, though in a manner to not be obvious.

Finally, after having left and returning to the room 3 or 4 times, “my favorite client” approached me. She said, “I have one more thing,” as she walked up to me.

“Girl, someone’s got to teach you how to hug!”

HA! Well, I laughed on the inside, not out loud of course, though my fellow intern was laughing out loud…HA!

Before I could do anything, I found myself giving a TRUE hug.

It’s funny because just earlier during the group that I had lead this week, we discussed thoughts from a book that I had just completed reading and one of the thoughts was on how people can tell when you are talking to them whether you really mean what you’re saying and really care about it or not.

I think that was what “my favorite client” had picked up on during our original hug at the end of the group meeting. She was fully aware of my lack of hug when I hugged her back.

It’s funny but I’ve never been told that before: “someone’s got to teach you how to hug,” but I’ve never been a good hugger.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love hugs! I have no problem with them. It’s just that, as I mentioned earlier, I am not a very good hug initiator. Sometimes I really wish I was, but I just really am not always comfortable in initiating them, even when I really do want to give someone a hug.

I’ve been thinking lately about hugs in general and there are so many kinds and types of them. Many of the times, we’ll fall into the “I’m supposed to give a hug” times. You know, like when the family is leaving and won’t see each other for a long time, or when someone sees someone that they haven’t seen for a while, or when you’re thanking someone for something. Granted these instances mentioned can be times for truly genuine hugs, but just because a hug goes on during those times does not mean it is a whole-hearted embrace.

Something else I’ve thought about in reference to hugs is the power of the human touch. Some of my favorite hugs are those when someone NEEDS one. Though those can be some of the HARDEST hugs to initiate, they are always some of the most memorable ones. I truly believe the energy that is exchanged between two people when they touch, whether it be a hug or a pat on the back, can be so powerful!

Whatever the case, hugs are a good thing in my opinion.

One of my good friends is one of my favorite people to hug because she hugs all the time. HA! Because of this, I now many of the times initiate the hugs....HA! I can not recall a time I’ve spent with Misty where either our time hanging out started with a hug or it ended with a hug. And I love it!

Misty’s hugs are remembered because they are so frequent, but also because they are REAL hugs. Some hugs just stand out. Some hugs will always standout in my mind, whether that is because they were REAL hugs or more of a shock-type of a hug.

Shock-type hug (n): a embrace that takes place and the recipient of the hug tends to be shocked that it occurred, or shocked of the real meaning that was put behind the hug from the hug initiator.

A few hugs that I will always remember:

--Ellison—she had come up to me and gave me the BIGGEST bear-hug following our final performance of Sing Song our Junior year. Little did I know when she approached me that it was a hug meant to be a hold-down so I could be attacked by all her fellow GATA officers as they poured the remains of the confetti from our Snow Day act down my pants. Thanks, Ellison! ;)

--Laura S.—she saw me for the first time for Homecoming weekend her senior year as she was coming up the stairs for chapel on Friday. I’ll never forget the joy she had as she came up the stairs and saw some of her returning alumni friends for the first time in a long time. She gave me a big hug and I’ll never forget that one because she is not a hugger and that might be one of the only hugs I can remember from her.

--Becca O.—it was her senior year Sing Song and I hadn’t seen her yet and I had snuck into the gyms where the groups were to be warming up. I was chatting with some fellow GATA sisters at one end of the hall and all of a sudden out of the darkness of the hall she comes running up and totally just attacks me with a bear hug. Honestly, I was a little scared at first because I couldn’t tell who she was because the hallway was dark, and though I’m still not a hundred percent sure it was her to this day….HA! I’m pretty sure it was and I give her credit for that hug, because it was a fun and memorable hug.

--Julie G.—I’ve never known Julie to be a hugger, so when I got out of my car in the darkness of the early morning hours for the GATA Homecoming Breakfast this year and she came up to me and gave me a hug, I was a little shocked. I had no problem with it, but it just kind of caught me off guard. I think it really made me think that whether or not we were very close when we were in club together we can call ourselves friends now.

--Ellison—yeah, so…she made the list twice, but if you look at that first one, it is definitely a “different” kind of a hug…HA! This one was for real! And though I know Ellison can be a hugger, I think she is a lot like me in the fact that she normally doesn’t have a problem with hugs, but she just doesn’t seem to initiate them. Because of this, I’ll never forget the time when I met her at her hotel here in the metroplex because she had come in town to go to a wedding and when she opened the door to her room and saw me she gave me this huge hug. Though I know I’ve hugged Ellison before that one just stands out to me. It was definitely a REAL hug and it really was great to see her again!


julesforstenholm said...

Haha! Good blog! I'm a terrible hugger! Terrible and I don't know why! GATA girls gave me heck about this all the time, and I've recently been reminded of it by my family! Regardless, hugs are good! I just don't hug well. :(

A. Lo said...

Misty does give great hugs! She is a world-class hugger!

Ellison said...

I agree with both of the comments. Misty does give excellent hugs...some of the best ever outside of my mom. And, Julie does suck at giving hugs...some of the worst ever outside of, well...a corpse:) Just kidding Jules, but I'd like for you to work on that.

Kim, I do remember both of those hugs. The Sing Song one was great...pretty sure I was elected to give you that "hug" because I was the only one who could hold you down. I also remember the "hotel hug." It had been forever since I had seen you, and I was just so excited that you were there...I had to hug you.

I'm generally not a hugger...Pretty much, if you get a hug from me, it's because I really wanted to hug you, or knew you needed one, or it actually meant something. I'll do the "side hug" all day long...those are less personal, but to give a "full-frontal hug" means emotion.

Good blog Kim...keep hugging, it's probably healthy!

A. Lo said...

Well, and a "full-frontal hug" can also be gross if the wrong people take advantage of it. I call that a "boob hug." It's mostly just when a guy is trying to get a better idea of the size of your boobs by squishing them into his chest. Not good times. And guys, we can ALWAYS TELL, so don't go getting any ideas.

FeedingYourMind said...

Ellison--I think you told me that part before about you being the only one that could have held me down....that makes me laugh everytime, since I'm about 6'2" and all. ;)

And yes, I DO count myself honored to have gotten a real hug from you! I too go through Ellison withdrawels, what can I say! ;)