Well, not yet. But I might be on my way there.

Well, not yet. But I might be on my way there.

“I think you meant you need cuddling, not coddling,” read his text. He was wrong. I did not need to be cuddled; I needed to be coddled immediately. I needed to be subdued, brought back in from the emotional ledge and gently patted on my head with words that assured me that the distress of the moment would pass. But he wouldn’t listen. “Cuddling,” he insisted, was going to solve it all, and he was going to teach me how to cuddle and even force me to hold his hand, too. I cringed. He knew my stance on cuddling, but he was determined to break that down.

It was not the thought of him that pulled at my stomach muscles and made them clench in preparation to fight off nausea, but the image of his 6’2” frame draped over my body; his long limbs perhaps even entangled in mine. Where would my face be? How could I breathe? What if he swallowed just as loudly as I did? Would that be weird? Why is swallowing such a strange sound? Why must people feel the need to suffocate the epidermis? It needs air, dammit!

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about my fear of cuddling. I didn’t realize just how close it was to being a full year until I looked back at the essay; it seems much longer than just 361 days ago.

Since writing the original piece there have been a lot of changes in my personal life. I lost a major component, was forced to move on without him and because of this, started allowing new people into my world. As I said, it seems far longer than a year considering all the stuff I have crammed into the last 12 months.

With the aforementioned component subtracted, I have been dating – as Dating Hijinks has detailed – and had some, er, interesting situations with the men I’ve met. It’s also been with these men that I’ve been forced to explain my aversion to cuddling. While some guys almost find relief in not having to do the obligatory “hold me for at least 10 minutes after sex” thing, others insist on it. However, no one has pinned me down to cuddle with such adamant vigor like my new friend Brendan. It doesn’t matter what I say, or how clear I am that my cuddling is only reserved for my nephews and Hubbell; he’s determined to fix that: I am going to learn to cuddle. I am currently in the beginning stages of this soon-to-be miraculous transformation.

We started with the basics; that, of course, was spooning. Can we all just point out what a stupid term that is? I understand the reason behind the word, but it doesn’t make it any less dumb. I digress.

So there I was in my bed, on my side with this fella’s body lined up along my back as if ready to be my spine if I were to lose it halfway through the exercise. I sighed loudly, pulled my shoulders up to my ears the way I do when I’m uncomfortable and wondered how long I’d have to be trapped there. Before I could ask that question, Brendan told me we were staying put until I could relax my shoulders. I never had a chance to relax; I fell asleep instead. I was shocked, but he was not.

I’m not sure how he was able to keep me in his clutches the whole time, but when I woke up a few hours later we were still in the same position. I was comfortable and pushed my hips backward and even closer to his, which made him tighten his grip. We high-fived when we finally got out of bed.

But the lessons were hardly over.

Spooning led to full on entanglement; it’s indeed a step by step process as Brendan continues to push my limits and I try not to budge with every ounce of insolence I have in me. Somehow he manages to wrap me around him and he around me in these intricate positions that almost make me grateful for yoga. Fingers are interlocked, his cheek pressed to mine, and so tight against each other, I can not just hear, but feel his heart beat. I tend to shake my arm or leg every once in a while to make sure I can still feel it and circulation is still up and running. I also try to breathe.

I do, admittedly, feel trapped, and when he feels my shoulders starting to rise to my ears every time, he tightens himself around me and tells me to relax. He even runs his fingers through my hair as if we’re in a bad rom-com, which, of course, makes me sigh even more and laugh. Brendan does not find the humor in this that I do.

It should be noted that Brendan has this almost unnervingly calming effect on me. It’s not even an exaggeration. When he walks into the room, I can almost feel my blood pressure drop, or what I’m assuming is my blood pressure. Either way, something drops and I’ve yet to decide if it’s simply him or his dedication to the cause.

Then I left for Paris on Sunday. So, at this moment, my lessons are on hold for the next couple months.

But I will say there is something comforting to be held; I can feel it deep in my bones like when I cuddle with my nephews. It’s as though an aching or coldness has been lifted and I’m allowing myself to melt into Brendan, as if I’m letting him not only see a side of me that I keep very much shelved, but also absorb something from me. And I, in turn, absorb something from him. Unlike Hubbell and my nephews, he may have the ability to hurt me, (a reason behind my fear of cuddling that I pointed out in my original essay), but to my surprise and confusion, I’m able to squeeze Brendan with the same level of tenacity I didn’t think I had for anyone else. Granted, I don’t want to be there all day cuddling, but I can do it for more than a few minutes and that’s great for me!

I realize I am not officially cured of my fear of cuddling. I know I have a lot of work left in being able to completely let go, but I feel something thawing. I’m not sure if we can thank Brendan for this or if it’s something I’ve come to on my own in the past few months. Something is definitely in the air, because I could really go for a cuddle session right now – although I’m pretty sure that might be because it’s freezing here and someone else’s body heat would help in the whole staying alive process.