Hug O’ War

"Hug O War" by Shel Silverstein

I battled with myself about whether to write this post or not because I predict that’ll it’ll evoke feelings of pity, and please understand that that is the LAST thing I want here.

I have this deep ache to be hugged. Either my primary love language is physical touch or I just didn’t get enough “good touch” as a kid, who knows… (That sounded like a bad Lifetime movie.)  Regardless, it’s a desperate longing that has been with me since I was a young child.

I would never admit to this desire of course because to me it felt trivial and meant that I was weak.  To long for something so seemingly childlike was embarrassing. Infants wanted to be held and I was not an infant– I was capable.  I could take care of myself.   Still though, in the most intimate moments of private prayer I found myself begging for this kind of affection.

I’d plead with God to send me someone to hug me in a nice way.  I must have journaled down a couple hundred times a yearning for someone to walk up and hug me– that somehow God would supernaturally tell certain people to embrace me.  I sure as heck wasn’t going to ask for this sort of thing, nor was I going to admit my desire for it.  Besides, it might seem to contradict my point but I’m also incredibly picky about who these embraces come from.

Of course, in every classic neglected kid way, this led to me finding a lot of my fulfillment in the affection of men.  Sadly though, I would have honestly been all the more pleased with a pat on the shoulder from a friend.  I lay here tonight, single and alone and reminiscent feelings of that physical longing return.  What I would give for someone to sit next to me, with their hand on my head as I try to sleep.  What I wouldn’t give for the long embrace of a friend.  As I’ve prayed a million times before, Lord, please hold me as I rest.  Please nestle up against my heart to keep me safe, secure and comforted by Your love, by Your sweet physical touch.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

(Post originally written 4/25/12)

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  1. Hey friend- I stumbled upon your blog whilst searching for Shel Silverstein illustrations, and I’m so glad I found you. While I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to have been trafficked, I do know what it’s like to want nothing more than to be held. So, from Washington DC, consider yourself embraced :).

  2. You are not the only one. Even having an affectionate mother, in my case, didn’t ward off the longing for good, safe hugs. I needed them from men because it was a man who hurt me, who said he was my dad and completely betrayed and failed me in that role. My first boyfriend never fulfilled that need either~he was needy and overall not safe enough. Mostly, it’s something I’ve grown out of, not that it’s childish, just that I healed past it. I think it’s universal to child abuse survivors.

  3. amy

     /  April 26, 2012

    i was trafficked within my family—and I totally get this. As much as I crave hugs, I have to say I hate them as well. I hate the people (who don’t know me from a stranger) trying to hug me at church. It feels unsafe and superficial. I long for a loving safe man that is committed to me in marriage—just so I can feel what it feels like to be held. (Not quite sure what I would do about the sex part, which I’ve heard is also part of a healthy marriage!)

    I love your blog, it is an honest-educational-encouraging. the Lord is using you, in a big way.

    grace grace


    • Amy – thanks so much for sharing that with me. I couldn’t agree more about the love/hate relationship I have with physical touch. Most people who know me know to keep out of “my bubble” as I call it. But I’m trying to do better about allowing myself the good type of physical touch from safe people… not the overbearing stranger lady in the church hall though. 😉 So sorry for you experience and all your pain my friend, I hate that we have this in common.

  4. Nik

     /  April 26, 2012

    You’ve received some beautiful responses to your blog this time. I haven’t much to add for I agree with all. I’m a hugger by nature and that nature has taken at least one guy a lot of years to loosen up enough to allow me to hug him. There is indeed something very powerful in the human touch; somehting very nurtering and binding in it’s mechanism. I just heard part of a sermon yesterday concerning the power of the human touch. God meant it to be so and He knows of the needs of us all. When you pray about it, or anything else, know in your heart that your prayer is already answered. That’s faith and faith pleases God, very much. He, in fact, tells us to have faith in Him, and how can we not considering what He’s done for each one of us on the cross. I predict that He has someone in mind for you even as you read this and that this mans touch will be that of Jesus’.

  5. I LOVED this post…its very powerful and vulnerable to admit that we all want safe, nurturing types of physical affection….this is so beautiful and sweet….I know what you are saying about the hesitancy of putting our words out there but I’m so glad you did….Heck I have 4 dogs cause I can’t get enough good touch, always got one snuggled up and tucked next to me….Good stuff! (((HUG)))

  6. good! i’m glad now that it was several days ago, somewhere inside your blog, and unprompted that i already extended my long and loving hug to you 🙂 i feel kind of claire-voyante now 😀 and the nagging doubts are gone that i overstepped the limit unknowingly or shouldn’t have done that for some reason. oh, and still no pity here. still hoping that compassion is okay? heike

  7. Jaime

     /  April 25, 2012

    May our Lord Jesus, who loves you very much, snuggle up to your heart tonight. You are very wise to pray that… He knows of your need of physical touch and He will be faithful and provide! Thank you for your ministry… To victims AND to those of us who just don’t understand. We are moved to action because of your bravery. Thank you!!

  8. SynthesistChronicles

     /  April 25, 2012

    I think that everyone longs for safe, platonic expressions of affection, and many women, especially those of us who have lived through violent encounters, can relate to your inability to figure out how to get that need met in a way that is comfortable and nurturing. It can take a lot of time to build up enough trust with someone to ask for a hug, but when you think that you might be there with someone you know well, I say go for it. Not to sound like your mother or anything, but please make sure that above all the person is trustworthy and safe! * hugs *

    P.S. Shel Silverstein is awesome!

  9. monica

     /  April 25, 2012

    sending a hug your way!

  10. I was just saying to some friends the other day, how I miss human touch too… This is the longest I’ve been away from family and friends without seeing any of them at all (5 months), and I’ve barely made any friends here, so I’ve probably only gotten about 5-6 hugs in that time. My friends and I are all pretty huggy people, so I really miss that. There’s nothing quite like the reassurance and love you get from a hug, a pat on the back, or a kiss. Babies can die if they aren’t cuddled when they’re young… and I don’t think the need gets any less when we’re older!


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