**Trigger warning for mentions of childhood abuse and neglect**
Considering all of the recent scientific evidence that cuddling is good, even necessary, for humans [Google ‘science of cuddling’], it seems likely that most of us were quite literally born with the desire and skill set to cuddle and be cuddled.
But what if you’re not naturally cuddly?
For a long time, well into adulthood, I did not consider myself a cuddly person. Since I now cuddle strangers on a fairly regular basis, this may be surprising.
So, here’s the story of how I became someone who ‘hugged like a robot’ to someone who gets paid to hug people:
I obviously don’t remember my infancy, but I suspect I was not the most cuddly baby. Those who knew me as an infant have never commented on my cuddliness — rather, they’ve told me how colicky I was and how little I slept and how much I screamed. (Sorry!)
My mother had/has substance abuse problems. She had them while pregnant with me, and she continued her addictions after my birth. So, that may have had something to do with my crankiness as a baby. But, then again, as a parent myself — I’ve seen first-hand that some babies are just more cuddly than others.
However, due to my mother’s neglect, substance abuse issues, and other abusive behavior, I know I was definitely an ‘insecurely attached’ child. But kids are smart, yo, and I did the best I could: I carried around not one, not two, but three security blankets. I also had a stuffed animal (Mr. Mousie) that I took everywhere with me. (And I sucked my thumb until I was 10. This last one is in parentheses because I kinda’ find this embarrassing, even now!)
There we’re adults who helped (shout-out to my big sister, Jeannine!). And some that hindered (Mrs. Fry, spanking me in kindergarten for running in the halls was Not Cool.)
And then there was the adult relative who molested me between the ages of 4-8.
Eventually, I became pretty suspicious of anyone who wanted physical affection.
I became shy. Stand-offish. And kind-of a weird, lonely little loner.
In my heart, I was still a silly, wild, and a loud-mouthed little tomboy. And with my (very small) group of friends, I could be myself.
But I was pretty scared of adults and large groups of people.
It took a LONG time for me to be comfortable with physical affection. The three things that helped me develop my ‘cuddling skills,’ were (in no particular order): 1.) Therapy, 2.) Having children who needed to be cuddled, 3.) My partner, John.
However, I think if I’d had access to professional cuddling earlier in my adult life, I would have learned to trust people sooner. And that’s one of the benefits of professional cuddle therapy — especially for people who may experience certain types of anxiety or PTSD.
The takeaway? Even if you’re NOT a naturally cuddly person — it is a skill you can learn! With the right people and tools, you can become more comfortable with physical affection.
How about you — are you naturally cuddly? Leave a comment below!
Interested in possibly increasing your cuddly-ness with a professional cuddler? Check out my page: Schedule a Cuddle Session.