Every once in a while, I get the feeling that in at least some respects I live a life that would not have been too far removed from the lepers of biblical times. Of course, I have written about leprosy and about its effects before , but today I would like to focus in my brief time on one of the particularly aspects of leprosy that affects me very strongly and in a negative way, and one that I really don’t know how to address with others in an open fashion, as others simply have to be sensitive to what’s going on to realize my concerns.
What made life as a leper so lonely? For one, a leper could not enjoy touch with others, because of fear of contamination and the spread of the disease. As a result, lepers were particularly affection deprived. This is something I can identify with very closely and something that has brought a great deal of trouble into my life. Although many people would never realize it, I am a very affectionate person by nature. To give one example of this, I have a dear cousin (who I have sadly not seen in quite some time) who I have always been very affectionate, to such a level that strangers have on several occasions assumed us to be dating, not because we were doing anything inappropriate, but because we were so obviously affectionate with each other as a result of years of good conversations and close relations.
Few people have seen this side of me. For a variety of reasons, some of them longstanding and others more recent, I tend to be very shy when it comes to affection with others. For myself, it is easy (and somewhat tragic) for me to misinterpret a very cuddly and affectionate person as someone with a strong romantic interest in me, and to make a serious blunder in response to that misunderstanding, given the fact that I am both strongly affectionate and very strongly affection deprived. Not wishing to overwhelm others with unwanted affection, and not always sure how much affection others would want from me, I tend to err on the side of caution, which also tends to make others more reluctant to hug me even if they are hugging everyone else around because they think I wouldn’t like it, when the truth is I would probably like it very much, and perhaps even too much depending on the situation.
So, how does one go about solving this problem? Short of wearing a “free hugs” sign , I am not sure what sort of solution there is. To ask specific people for hugs, based on an apparent willingness and openness for it in general, appears to invite false opinions of this being a targeted sort of action. To wait on others to recognize the need for fairly regular affection appears to be a vain quest, because most people are simply not that observant to my own particular strong need for affection from others that is not very often realized. Likewise, being public about the request as I am being here is somewhat awkward and embarrassing, though I suppose in the absence of better options it must sometimes be necessary to point out what I consider to be particularly lacking in life in the hope that it may be rectified by those who are attentive to it. Here’s hoping that the life among the lepers is something I don’t have to experience for too much longer, God willing.
 See, for example: