Oh gawd - what is she on about now?
Well, you see - I'm British. Therefore Love is a four letter word. From childhood, love was not something discussed. Certainly no hugging! Well, maybe, but I just can't remember that clearly to be honest. As a wheezy, scabby, unhealthy wraith of a child, I guess hugging me might not have been that attractive a proposition.
So, Love. But let's start with hugging: my friend Penni used to say hugging me was like 'hugging a concrete pillar'. Fun, eh? I did not know how to respond to tactile people. Never mind I have two kids, a long and happy marriage - other people touching me? Goodness! What a thought.
Now, husbands and kids notwithstanding, there's a lot of people who I know and love, but would never have dreamed of telling them - using the four letter word! It just isn't done, you know. Or ... well, that's what I thought.
But I use it with my kids - I tell them I love them, they use it with us as parents, with their friends and with granny. It's good - it's nice. I've even used it in passing conversation with one or two of my friends, daring eh?
And, I've started to hug people too - have for about the last year, and - you know what? I like it! I like human contact, being told without words that I matter, that I am acceptable, that touching me is not something to be avoided.
And, I've learned to accept and use the 'love' concept a little more broadly too. Tree hugging? No, not yet (though I believe the Silver Birch is especially grateful for such interactions), but I can now - thanks to two particular friends (you know who you are! Bint and Paddington...) - understand and share love on a different level.
I love my friends! I love them in a very different way to the way I love my husband or my kids or even my mother (well, you've got to love mothers haven't you?). But it is very rewarding.
I can't believe that at nearly half a century, I have not understood or experienced or shared this kind of friendship before.
Love is ok, isn't it? I am allowed, aren't I? Other people can love me too?
In overcoming some of my self-esteem issues, the acceptance of love is quite a big one for me. Yes, my husband loves me - it's his duty after all! Maybe people take what their partner says with a pinch of salt, because it is expected and may assume that it is not objective. It's a settled love, a comfortable love, a living love.
I have found that loving my friends has opened me up to being a more loving person altogether. I need more human touch. I need more because I want to give more.
So, have I gone weird, or am I just a latent human being? I don't know. But I did want to write it down. Because without my friends, I think I'd still be a rather isolated, cold and - as I have been told - slightly intimidating character.
Sod it. I'm just mush now... walk all over me!