I’ve mentioned this before, I dedicated a whole post to it, but I’m not a hugger. It goes beyond not liking it or finding it peculiar. I have a strong visceral reaction to a hug from a stranger. My throat clenches, my pupils dilate, my muscles tighten, and I become as stiff as a cardboard cutout. If you listen carefully, you can hear my joints creak and groan as I force them to unlock.
Hugging is awkward, and it’s not for me.
However, a part of me really wants to like them and, right now, I could use a good bear hug. I want someone to pull me into a solid embrace, hold me, and tell me that everything will be okay. It’s the kind of reassurance that’s more believable when it’s accompanied by a strong hug.
But then someone tries to fulfill that wish, and I become somewhat catatonic.
Oh, but they look cozy and comfortable! Am I having a moment of doubt? Am I reconsidering my previous sentiment? If I was anything close to a functioning human being? Yes, I would because not all appearances are deceiving.
Then again, when you really think about it, break it down into its base eliminates, then it’s a strange way to greet someone you’ve never met before. Someone I know and trust? Yeah, no, that’s okay within reason. I prefer being asked first, but I’ll be fine as long we have an established relationship.
When strangers do it?
I just don’t understand why two people, who have no prior relationship, would walk up to each other and smash their bodies together. They entangle their limbs, inhale each other’s germs, and attempt to squeeze the life out of each other. In a loving way! Of course, they mean no harm, and they stop short of suffocation, but the intimacy of this greeting is baffling.
Leading me to, once again, question whether I’m human or something else entirely. Am I an alien that’s been sent to this planet to study your ways? To truly assimilate, my memory was wiped, and I was embedded into the lives of authentic earthlings. Cleverly disguised in this female form to throw off any suspicion. A perfect copy in almost every way.
Except, a lot of humanoid quirks baffle me to such a degree that I question their true nature and, in doing so, reveal my own. It would explain so much! My sinuses expressed displeasure with the earth’s environment. My gastrointestinal systems disagreement with just about every morsel of, what you call, food. Then there’s my inability to behave in ways that seem so easy to most but escape my meagre understanding of human interaction.
Hugs. Small talk. Intimate social gatherings. The dreaded phone call with copious amounts of chit-chat. I shiver at the thought! How are these things acceptable? How are they, and I’ll use quotations, “normal” in any way? I am well and truly, bewildered.
And that brings me back to where we were a few minutes ago. Yes, my friend, I might be an alien. A Non-human entity. A visitor to your planet. Earth, who dat?
Was that cool? Did I fit in with the hip humanoids? No, no, I failed miserably. Damn it, my mission has burnt up in the atmosphere. My alien brothers and sisters will shun me forever, and I will be forced to live out my days on this planet. Now, I have to let out a dramatic sigh. It’s warranted. It’s needed. It’s coming… I did it.
Oh, but the odds of me being an actual alien are minuscule. I’m simply an awkward person. A person who never learned basic social skills. Someone who has more allergies than white blood cells. But being an alien would explain so much!
It’s like the time I believed I was adopted until the bloodwork came back. Seriously, there was a blood test, but it wasn’t a DNA comparison, and it was purely coincidental. It was a part of my transplant workup, and they tested my family for organ compatibility. We’re a perfect match so, that means I’m not adopted or an alien.
Unless everyone in my family are aliens too? Hold up. Mind blown! Waaaaa… There will be a conversation about this later.
Okay, no, none of us are extraterrestrial. We’re ordinary-terrestrial. Is that a thing? Did I just make that up? Basic-terrestrial would work too because I am a pretty basic capital B. I ask silly questions and think way too much about the origins of things like hugs, eggs, and… Why do we have to put everything in our mouths?
I do have a tendency to overthink, overanalyze, and tear things asunder. I have an innate curiosity and an underlying need to explain everything so I can control my life. If I can understand the why’s, then maybe they won’t scare, baffle, or bother me as much. Breaking things down into their base eliminates, separating the parts from the whole, and dissecting each piece of a complex puzzle. If I do that?
Well, there’s a chance that I’ll feel more comfortable in my own skin and safer in my small corner of the galactic empire. How’s that working out for me? Go back and read just about anything I’ve written. I’m good. I’m great. I’m fine. Stop looking at me like that!
Is it time for a classic distraction technique? Yay, my favourite! If I keep going, I’ll end up writing I’m fine over and over in a desperate attempt to convince myself that it’s true. You’re too smart to fall for that ruse so, let’s try a smokescreen instead.
Because that always works. *Sarcasm*
Who was the first person to see a chicken crap out an egg? And, at what point did they think, hey, I should put that in my mouth? Anything that comes out of the rear end of a living creature is fair game? Did they try eating cow patties? What about human… Nope, I don’t want to picture that. Did they think, at any point, that they should stop putting rear end deposits into their front entrances?
But if they stopped after pig urine, then we wouldn’t have scrambled eggs or omelettes. A cake wouldn’t be as fluffy and delicious. Is a life without cake really a life worth living? I really like cake so no, I can’t imagine my life without a slice every once in a while.
Every day is too much or, so I’m told by alleged experts. What do they know? Let them eat cake! Didn’t that queen lose her head after saying that? Well, now cake has lost some of its appeal.
Speaking of losing things… No, horrible transition. It’s in poor taste. It doesn’t matter that it was a historical event that happened hundreds of years ago. Losing things? I mean, come on, get it together, woman! Sorry lost my, uh hea…No!
Okay! I’ll move on.
I find a great deal of comfort in the individual pieces of a gigantic whole. When something feels too big, I get overwhelmed, and I have no idea where to begin or how. There’s a moment of hesitation that leads to complete resignation. It’s too big. It won’t fit. I can’t do this so, bye, I’m going back to my home planet.
It’s a coping strategy that has its place. For instance, sitting down to write makes me nervous. Seeing a blank page is overwhelming, and I always have a moment of doubt, hesitation, and a tad bit of fear. If I let those emotions take over, then I’d never write a single word. But when I break it down into its base eliminates, it gives me a place to start.
I make a cup of tea and turn on my laptop. I do twenty minutes of journaling to clear my mind and dump out the negative thoughts and feelings that get in my way. Then I open a new document, think up a working title, take a deep breath, and type one word after another until I have nothing left to say.
Focusing on each step rather than the massive whole is so much easier. I don’t get overwhelmed by word counts or readership. It’s just me, my computer, and my thoughts. Simple, not easy, but I can do it.
Breaking things down can make our lives more manageable or make them more absurd. My alien theory is one prime example. Life on this planet is out of control, overwhelming, and somedays it feels like the earth is a giant banana wearing bellbottoms and a bright neon wig. If I’m not a resident of this planet? I can escape it and go back to a plant where bananas aren’t bombastic retro weirdos.
Wait, that sounds more like a breakdown than breaking things down. Reset and… I’m in a mood!
Hugs then! Let’s use that as our example because it actually makes sense. If you look at the mechanics of this very peculiar greeting, then it sounds even more bizarre and kind of dirty. You know, if your mind strays that way from time to time with a little wink and a nudge.
Two strangers latch onto each other with gangly limbs and pull their bodies together. Cloth-covered flesh presses against cloth-covered flesh. Their internal heat radiates outwards and mingles together as if it too is an active participant. Lips come close to ears, and soft words are exchanged. The two bodies move together rhythmically until they reach mutual release.
No, I haven’t been hugging wrong all these years! I dramatically broke down the act itself into its most elemental components. It doesn’t work, does it? No, it sounds creepy, and we finally understand each other!
Huggers, am I right?
Except, I could really use a hug, and it makes no sense when I break it down into its basic form. The one thing that gives me comfort! It’s been replaced by the one thing that baffles me the most. How bizarre. How bizarre.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was one coping strategy that worked in every situation? Boiling overwhelming moments down into small, more manageable steps is a great tool. It helps me get through stressful situations, and it gives me a sense of control when my mental health decides to take a turn down a dark alley.
But when I try to use this technique to overcome my aversion to hugs or agricultural activities? Nope, it just doesn’t work because I just ate something that came out of a chicken’s rectum, and that’s creeping me out. I suppose this is why, when we’re taught about coping strategies and techniques, they use the plural form rather than one screwdriver for all jobs.
Coping strategies are like Swiss Army Knives. A collection of tools in one convenient package because every job will require one or more. If you have the right tool, then you can manage just about any situation.
Sometimes breaking things down into small steps takes the edge off. Other times, I need to open a journal and perform a mind dump. I go for a walk to clear my head when my emotions feel like they are taking over. I call a friend when I’m on the verge of losing my shit altogether. I pray. I cry. I listen to loud music or watch the Sound of Music because it’s my favourite movie, and it makes me smile.
Finding the right tool for the job, when it comes to our mental health, is a lot harder than putting IKEA furniture together. It takes some experimentation, some trial and error, but when we find a few things that work? It can be a lifesaver when it feels like you’re an alien on a strange planet.