In the heart of a group hug, powers of the universe living inside every one us, unlock to heal untold hurts.

At once uniting, liberating, moving and restorative, a group hug refills the empty glass of doubt you may have in humanity.

After hearing a classroom of high schoolers slam their bodies, faces, personalities, their whole being (anything was fair, sickening game), I stood up and told the beautiful, tender teens if they didn’t stop with the self-slander, I was going to call a group hug. You may remember reading about this event in my previous Good Men Project article, My Journey Into the Spectrum; A Mother’s Visit to a Gay-Straight Alliance Meeting. A few minutes later, unable to listen any longer to these fragile kids breathe horrid, echoing life into their condemnations, I made good on my threat.

We all came together in the center of the room in front of the overhead projector, varying body types and ethnicities, our arms sneaked around each other’s backs and over shoulders until we’d transformed into a single living being. Breathing as one, feeling as one, touch transferring emotions. Sadness, humility, shame, pity, pride, each raw human revealed and on stage, we were present. Unsure where we ended and another began. Shuffling closer toward each other, smiling, our eyes bright and dancing at the miracle, our hope was so much larger than the co-op of tragedy saddling every person. We divided the pain to make it bearable. The truth, surprising, a wound traversing the limbs  and organs of many, was a revelation. This is how you feel? Oh, your agony, my baby. My God, I’m sorry your pain is unrelenting.


Doesn’t come close to describing what happened in that hug.

We rose above oppression, racism, body dsymorphia, any perception a person carried. Weak as one, yet strong enough as 20 hearts, as 40 arms now repurposed into wings, we took flight above each fragment of pain pinning us down.

Our scars, different, identical.

And the love. I accept you and I never want you to leave. I don’t believe your shredding self-talk, because you are perfect. All of us are, and we are bigger and more precious than we could have fathomed. I am you. You are me. We are each other. We are memories, anticipations, passions, fatigue. Because you cannot cut off your own arm if you hate it, so you bring it closer to protect it.

Create the opportunity to group hug people you barely know, disappointed children, elderly people distraught at sterile, hospital surroundings, estranged family members, embrace each of them and you will have taken the chance to become whole, renewed and infinitely loved, you will have become a shining spark flaring in the the galaxy. You will have erased any doubt of yourself, if even for a second, coaxed into existence a time in your life, when all the love in proximity rained down. If you hadn’t felt lovable until that day, you learned, by a tide of reassurance, you were. Even if it didn’t last long. It still happened. You still were. You still are. I hope the love and self respect of those youngsters burst free that afternoon in the generic classroom festooned by a rainbow flag hanging from the ceiling, tinting the windows to reflect multi-color squares, the classroom where anything but a generic exercise transpired.

Each group hug contains its own energy. Ingest it greedily as you become an appendage, a member of a team propelling a larger body made of many bodies toward greater truth, love, acceptance, and the confirmation a damaged soul remains a worthy soul. You will never run out of this free-flowing heart food, you will never deprive your giddy, clutching neighbor by wallowing in the wonder of the group hug. You will however, comprehend mysterious, alien emotions of the people around you. And when strangely familiar arms curl around your body, surrender. Change your life and your assumptions of humankind forever in the heart of the group hug.

Original article appeared at The Good Men ProjectReprinted with permission.

Photo: Flickr/Adam Baker/Edited

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