"Someone wasn't hugged enough as a child."
-Anthony DiNozzo, Jr.

October 2008

It's a safe place to be when the world around you labels you a private person.

No pressure to talk. No fear of exposure.

No one beating down your door to hang out with you and make you talk about anything.

Your secrets are safe that way.

To be considered 'tight-lipped' feels quite within your comfort zone as well. It's a safety net, thrown to you by fellow colleagues unaware. Your fears and phobias, quirks and shyness all present enough ammunition enough to keep those who prey on food for jokes, pranks, harassment and teasing never even come close to the real truth that is of the time.

There are the times the real you is threatened with exposure, through nosey digging by the one who's quest always seems to be to show you up or just make you look pathetic and weak. And while, it matters not how it makes you look to those around you, near as much as how close the exposure gets to all that is locked away, sometimes it feels as if that worry becomes a daily one.

Thankfully, there are times, that struggle seems to have been tossed by the wayside, left to rot in the sun, while the rest of your life goes on, now consumed with work and sleep, everything else now forgotten or at least out of focus. Those are the times you find it so much easier to breathe freely.

When you soak up affection from the single person in the universe who offers it to you, the label you are given for it by the arrogant people around you doesn't even faze you. After all, how could they know that this was the very reason your relationship didn't work out? The fact that they jump to incorrect conclusions about that relationship gone sour long ago, has never bothered you since it kept the truth buried where it was safe from exposure.

When the reason you remain so stiff and unyielding when others, though they are rare, try to comfort you in difficult times, doesn't even become something that is talked about, it's a gift horse you refuse to look in the mouth. You've become part of a group of people who are almost as stringent with accepting comfort as well as giving it and so nothing seems out of the ordinary about any of this.

However, when those who think they know you best, present themselves as judge and juror, tormentor and friend in your life, while all the while missing the truth they cannot see, the world once more seems less secure, until the dust has stilled again. When the titles of 'private',' nerd' and 'geek' are used to define you once more, you actually relish them. They ease things back to normal much quicker and the pain once again is safely locked way.

Every time the dust is kicked up, you wonder which way it will go. Some dust disturbances become sand storms, blinding, bitter and stinging; while others a mere nuisance to be completely ignored. You've learned to take the nuisances in stride and silently file them away under the ever growing subject of 'Experiences learned'.

When the sandstorms do rage, the innermost pain comes out of hiding; sharp, highlighted and surreal.

The light of a dear friend's laughter and the comfort of their embrace usually helps you heal.

But this sand storm came out of nowhere, harsh, painful and strong.

One spoken thought.

One insightful observation.

Seven small words is all it took to open wide the gate and usher in this storm that has caught you unprepared.

It was so unexpected and hit so blatantly close to home that even now, you can barely catch your breath. What did Tony just say?

"Someone wasn't hugged enough as a child."

Suddenly the room seems to be closing in on you and it's all you can do to keep from trying to escape to find the space to breathe. Nevertheless, you gather your inner courage, merely blink away the cloud from your vision, and swallow hard around the lump in your throat.

You don't even see the faces of those around you, watching with concern, as you work to not appear to have been sucker-punched.

With ironclad determination, you return your focus and attention to your work even as you stomp down on the words while they scream to be heard.

Oh, Tony, you have no idea!

How did you know I was one of those somone's who wasn't hugged enough as a child?

How did you know I was never hugged at all?