Hugs the Awkward Jean Way


Regardless of hurt and heartache I’ve learned in the past two weeks that one thing will never change – at my core I’m still Awkward Jean. Case in point, this last weekend I attended a wedding of two close friends from work. It was a rather intimate affair with only 38 people in attendance – including the wedding party themselves! I’d never experienced such an unpretentious wedding and felt very honored to be included in their special day, especially given the limited number of guests. In my excitement to share in their celebration of love and commitment, it never occurred to me that it may be hard to sit through a wedding ceremony while still reeling from the loss of a relationship I thought was headed that direction someday.

Sitting in the audience, I knew the exact moment the bride walked out from behind the curtains in the back because the groom teared up and was visibly shaken – his face showed every emotion. The love. The disbelief. The adoration. The joy. This was his moment, this was his bride. And looking back to see her I switched from tearing up a bit with him to breaking into a huge smile with her—she was stunning. She looked amazing in her dress and just had this glow of excitement and love about her. Maybe it was the smaller setting, but it seemed very real – like they both got that this wasn’t just an event, this was a life commitment filled with good and bad alike, but they were ready to embrace it together. It was beautiful just to be a part of.

The officiant did a great job being personal and making us all laugh at the right times, say “ahhhh” at the right times, and tear up at the right times. Then the reader stepped up and read a poem I hadn’t heard before. That was the moment. The reading was the moment I sat there and the heartache took over and I felt so alone in this room full of love and connection. The line that ripped through me was “… all those late night talks that included ‘someday’ and ‘somehow’ and ‘maybe’—and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All those common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.”

I sat there listening to the words, thinking of my former relationship and failing to fight back the tears as they streamed down my face. Suddenly I was outside the moment and trapped back in my own head. All I wanted was to go back to the moments before those words were spoken, when I felt like I was inside that bubble of love and connection, instead of stuck on the outside looking in. Those words, the memories they evoked, let loose a floodgate of emotions. Suffice it to say it was rough. A real “Suck it up Buttercup” moment. But fortunately that’s all it was, a moment. Then it passed and I was back in the bubble, but the cloud of awareness still hung over my head. The moment had left its mark.

AND, in this particular case, its mark turned into a highly awkward interaction at the end of the reception with two owners of my company. Let me set the scene –

Awkward Jean is a couple of glasses of wine in and people are starting to leave. The reception has been great, I’m back in the bubble, not on the outside, having a lovely time. I find myself standing with the bride and groom when two of our owners came up to say goodbye. Now, we are a tight-knit group at my company so hugging isn’t out of the ordinary, but it also isn’t a guaranteed occurrence. As Owner 1 finished hugging the bride and groom he found himself next to me and put his hand on my shoulder while commencing in the typical small talk of “It was good to see you.”… The shoulder pat is a sure sign that a hug is not taking place. No problem. UNTIL another co-worker went in for a hug with him and suddenly I was outside that bubble again and NEEDED a hug. Like Defcon 5 somebody hug this girl.

So, I did what any self-respecting adult in need of a hug would do. I threw my hands down, pouted my lower lip and proclaimed, “Well now I want a hug! Can I have a hug too?”  The rest of the scene goes as follows:

Owner 1, nervous laughter: “Uh, yeah. Sure.” I go in for the hug. And we’re hugging. Hugging. He tries to pull away, but…

Awkward Jean: “Hang on. I need just a little bit longer.”

Owner 1, nervous giggle turns to uncomfortable laugh: “Oh. Okay.” Hugging. Huuuugggggiiinnnnggg.

End hug. But by this time Owner 2 is done saying his goodbyes to the bride and groom and, assuming we are all hugging, goes in for a hug with me as well.

Awkward Jean, hands up in the internationally recognized STOP formation: “Hold on. I DO want a hug, but I feel like I should warn you that it will likely be awkwardly long. Sometimes you just need a hug and I do right now but I’m being awkward about it. I just thought you should know.”

Owner 2, same nervous giggle: “Oh. Okay. Get in here.” Arms outstretched.

Hug… and still hugging… and his first attempt to escape gets shot down… and then the second during which Awkward Jean says: “I’m not done yet.” Hugging. Huuuuuuuggggggiiiinnnnggg…

Awkward Jean, still hugging: “I TOLD you I needed an awkwardly long hug.” Finally releasing the poor man.

And like that I was back in the bubble. What can I say? Sometimes you just need a hug. And understanding owners. Perhaps it wasn’t one of my finer moments BUT I do think I deserve credit for not breaking down in front of the owners and asking them to fire the man who broke my heart… because, breaking hearts is cause for termination… right? Should be.


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