Can I Hug You? – Part 2

“I’m through accepting limits
Cuz someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try I’ll never know
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love, I guess I’ve lost
Well if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost”

~ Defying Gravity from WiCKED

So today was my first day back at work from my medical leave and it was truly a day I will not forget and for those of you who remember my blog post called “Can I Hug You?“, I think you might find my days findings interesting. As discussed in the earlier post I have always been one to seek out hugs from others. It’s extremely comforting for sensory issues and just makes my day besides.

Well, usually I am pretty picky about who I want hugs from. In fact, a lot of the time they tend to be people who are not the type that would randomly hug an acquaintance or friend. My brain seems to be wired backwards.

But I have been learning to watch my own behavior much more closely and be more aware of the real reason for reaching out to someone and really thinking of what type of person can or would want to meet that need which is usually not the same person I generally initially want to talk to or spend time with at first.

I tend to have those powerful urges to seek out a hug or to talk when I feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. In fact, it’s so powerful that I tend to not realize what I’m doing until I’ve potentially embarrassed myself for an emotional response from the wrong person.

Well today, I learned a wonderful lesson. I walked in nervous and scared that I would suddenly become sick again and dizzy and have to leave but as I approached my desk I was greeted by countless smiles, waves, and a whole bunch of hugs.

What caught my attention and made me really stop to think was when they asked “Can I hug you?” (Which we have to do anyway, company policy) and something really hit home. It is true that I have done a better job of stopping myself from reaching out to the wrong people more recently, but I do still make plenty of mistakes as I’m learning and sometimes I just misunderstand myself at times which sounds odd but true.

But I am the kind of person who jumps to help someone in need if I can – so why do I seemingly punish myself by subconsciously deny myself having my needs met?

Well I read a very interesting article about the reason why people seek out emotionally unavailable people and it generally has to do with trying to heal a wound from our past by finding someone just like the one who hurt us with the thought that they will in turn help us without realizing that it’s really just asking to get hurt again.

I had a day filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Those hugs were actually (for the most part) from people who don’t even often interact with me and for the first time, instead of pushing them away and seeking out the wrong people- I embraced the moment. (Pun intended)

Because why should care and concern have to come from people who hurt me? It shouldn’t. It doesn’t have to hurt! It doesn’t have to be intense and dramatic. It can genuinely be just comfort.

I think from now on I’m going to be consistently making a find a concerted effort stop taking my real friends for granted in ways I didn’t even realize I was – and just stop expecting everyone to embrace the real me. That’s my job- to accept who I am, Aspergers and all, to stop judging myself quite so harshly and to stop focusing on failed friendships and embrace the ones who do care with no strings attached.

What an awesome day.

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About Gretchen Leary

I am 30 years old, I live in the Boston area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism, Music and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Can I Hug You? – Part 2

  1. hypercryptical says:

    Hugs are the best medicine and ‘no strings attached’ friendships the best friendships.
    Take care Gretchen and loadsa hugs!
    Anna :o]

  2. davidbaileyalmeida says:

    Hi Gretchen,

    I enjoyed reading this post! Your blog and writing is extremely informative. I’m not overly familiar with of the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, but I do know that some people were not raised in “loving” environments. This fact could possibly give some people the appearance of having a condition that looks like Asperger’s syndrome. Hugging is a behavior that we are taught as children. If your parents did not practice hugging, chances are you will not either. My immediate family members are not touchy feely. I was not taught to walk up to strangers and give them hugs. What I am saying is that showing public affection is often a learned behavior.

    Sometimes a person we perceive as being “unemotionally unavailable”, has been raised in culture that frowns on acts of public affection. I have worked in worked in social services with abused children for many years. For obvious reasons touching and affection is discouraged. This attitude has been perpetuated in our school systems. This country has taken on a “do not invade my space” policy.

    I want to say that just because a person does not feel comfortable engaging in open acts of affection; this does not mean that the person is incapable or uninterested in expressing love . . . not that you said that. I’m saying this for the benefit of your readers. This is true whether the person has a condition like Asperger’s syndrome, mental illness, or they were brought up in home where feelings were not expressed.

    If you are involved with a person who seems to be “emotionally unavailable”, my advice is that you encourage the person to express his or her emotions. Don’t be afraid to be a “teacher” to the other person. Show the person how to be express love and affection . . . if you are truly interested in having a relationship with this person. After all, the true purpose of personal relationships is to help us learn. You can certainly learn a lot from person who possesses Asperger’s syndrome or a person with qualities like this.

    Gretchen if I ever meet you in person . . . I promise you will get biggest hug from me! 🙂 No strings attached of course!

    All the best,

    David

    • Hi there, well I’m happily married but when I am out on my own I still get that urge for a hug because of sensory issues but it’s not socially appropriate except under special circumstances. Having Aspergers has been quite a challenge for me as for anyone with AS but I do try to have a good attitude even when it’s hard to understand the world around us like others do. My issues with constantly missing social cues, sensory issues, issues making friends, extreme challenge to make small talk – it’s almost painful to do it and I’m rarely successful at it- but I do my best 🙂

  3. davidbaileyalmeida says:

    I understand what you are saying Gretchen. Do not feel that you have a problem. The issue you are describing is one that many people have. It is not necessarily a symptom of Asperger’s syndrome. It may be a condition of society.

    If you find accepting the Asperger label useful in helping you interact with other people, and in managing your life, then that’s fine. Just keep in mind that this so-called “disorder” does not define your character. If anyone calls you an “Asperger person” or an “Asperger patient”, I suggest you do not internalize this false belief. You are a human being. Always remember that you are a human being like everyone else on the planet. It is good to know yourself, what makes you tick, and how you relate to the world, but don’t make the mistake of allowing this “limiting” label become you; or become your life. Any false belief like this can consume you.

    I like that you have accepted the “as best you can” philosophy. That is all anyone can do.

    Best wishes,

    David

  4. davidbaileyalmeida says:

    I understand what you are saying Gretchen. Do not feel that you have a problem. The issue you are describing is one that many people have. It is not necessarily a symptom of Asperger’s syndrome. It may be a condition of society.

    If you find accepting the Asperger label useful in helping you interact with other people, and in managing your life, then that’s fine. Just keep in mind that this so-called “disorder” does not define your character. If anyone calls you an “Asperger person” or an “Asperger patient”, I suggest you do not internalize this false belief. You are a human being. Always remember that you are a human being like everyone else on the planet. It is good to know yourself, what makes you tick, and how you relate to the world, but don’t make the mistake of allowing this “limiting” label become you; or become your life. Any false belief like this can consume you.

    I like that you have accepted the “as best you can” philosophy. That is all anyone can do.

    Best wishes,

    David

    • I don’t feel defined by my Asperger Syndrome diagnosis but it definitely is a challenge. I’m not sure what you mean by what you said about me not having a problem… but I am definitely not self diagnosed.

      Thank-you for your input!

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