Growing up, my family was of the tight-lipped, no-touching genre. There were no kisses goodbye if I went to my girlfriend's house for a sleepover, no tearful I-love-you's when I headed off for university. We were more of the "tough love" set. I remember one night, when I was about 9, my parents were fighting and my dad went to stay at his parent's house to cool off. He was crying and my mom told all of us to go give him a hug before he left. That was the most contact I had had with my dad for most of my memorable pre-teen to adult years.
Now that I'm an adult, I can see how this has shaped me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting the blame on my parents. Their childhoods were a lot rougher than mine and I know why they are the way they are.
I couldn't let people inside my bubble. I remember how hard a time I had opening up to my first boyfriend, my closest girlfriends and eventually to my older sister when she left the house. I remember living with one girlfriend who said "I love you" to her family members everytime she hung up the phone and how weird I thought that was. And the hugging? I was a bumbling fool, awkward when my friends went to hug me, and never EVER the instigator. Don't even get me started on the little cheek kisses that I still manage to mess up! Is it one kiss, or two? Some people go three! Even in my late 20's, I still bump heads trying to avoid it.
My brother's girlfriend Kristi always comments on how un-touchy-feely my family is. From her influence, my brother has gotten much more huggy in his adulthood. My sister is similar, especially with her newborn. The last time we visited while she was pregnant, we were all huddled around her tummy with our hands on it, waiting for Ashley to kick. I know that I have gotten much much better under Jason's influence. His family is extremely open with expressing their feelings to each other, which is great. In fact, Jason is known in my family for being all about the man-love, hugging all the men in my family as well as the women! Funny! It threw my brother and dad off at first, but I think they secretly like him for it. Jason and I always tell each other we love each other, before we leave the house, hang up the phone or just whenever the feeling strikes. He will kiss me goodbye in front of his friends, or hold my hand in public or give me a hug while we're waiting for the crosswalk.
The other night, I was meeting someone for the first(ish) time at the house for dinner - the time before was a brief intro - and I surprised myself by going for the hello hug! I think I surprised her a little too! It felt good. I felt like I had been cured a little.
As my wedding date approaches, I find myself wondering how weird it will be to see our two families meet. They are so different. I know Jason's family will say wonderful glowing things, love love love... I wonder if my family will still be the tight-lips? I know Jason's family will be all hugs and kisses and tears and I'm really hoping that will open the floodgates on my side as well... okay, maybe not the floodgates. I would settle for a teeny tiny crack between the doors. The hinges probably need oiling.