The picture below spoke to me in the early morning on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. I woke around 6 AM – after going to bed late – because another bout of insomnia has taken me captive again. Once I realize I’m probably not going to get to sleep any time soon, it is usually too late to do anything about it. So rather than wake up with a Tylenol PM hangover, I simply lie awake and hope slumber reaches me soon. It probably doesn’t help at all that I reach for the phone in these times and aimlessly browse Pinterest memes. Alas, this is how I came upon this quote and spent another hour processing the emotions it stirred in me.
I am reminded by my awesome therapist…and I often remind others….that just because you don’t feel loved or aren’t being loved the way you want to be loved doesn’t mean the other party isn’t loving you the best they can – or with everything they have at the moment. I can count on both hands the times my Dad actually uttered the words “I love you” to me in my lifetime, but when he’d hear I was planning a trip, he’d always stop by to check the air pressure in my tires and check the under the hood of the car for any ‘rattles’. My son, who is autistic, says the words “I love you” to me all the time, but I’m not sure he understands what it means. What I understand, though, is that if I am gone for too long, he asks continuously where I am and when I will be home. The way he searches for me tells me that he loves me…or at bare minimum…expects me to be there for him. I’m rarely the “I love you” girl, but I am totally the ‘Text me when you get home so I know you’re safe’ girl. I know I’ve said it to some of you on more than one occasion.
The thing about love, though, is that there is this belief out in the world that it is difficult. Love is anything but simple, right? I posit that if you have some over glorified Disney idea of what love is then yes, love is not simple. Love is dramatic and hard and a fantasy no one can live up to. Add in a volatile history, sprinkle in a bit of trauma, and add a dash of victim mentality and Boom. You’ve created the perfect recipe for complicated love. (And you wonder why it tastes so bitter. Huh.)
I, personally, am not great at verbally expressing love. I guess you could say I don’t love loudly. I don’t say it much because I feel if it is said every hour of every day, or expressed in overly dramatic ways, it loses its power. I’m a bit like Yellowstone’s Beth Dutton. I don’t want to be told “I love you” in some sappy Hallmark moment. Expressing love on holidays, birthdays, and any other stupidly wasteful retail opportunity is easy. Add in a pet name or two and you’ve pretty much made me vomit. It takes absolutely no creativity. In my opinion, the expression of love needs to be done when it matters. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about this. Maybe because my ability to love comes into question a lot in relationships because I’m not like most girls. I don’t do touchy-feely. Well…maybe my ability to love isn’t the entire problem. Maybe it’s their inability to be loved that is also contributing to the issue. (Oh. Sorry. Was that a raw nerve?)
Love, to me, is simple. Be patient. Be kind. Don’t keep a record (unless the relationship is abusive and full of manipulation. In those cases, document the shit out of that stuff). Respect boundaries. Keep your promises. Keep other potential love interests at bay. Clean up after yourself. Be there in a crisis. I really can’t think of much more. Love is expressed in action and the occasional “I love you” means a lot when action is taken. Love, to me, is answering a phone call when it matters – when it alters the course of someone’s life. Love is a pinky-swear that reminds another person they will always matter, even when the seasons of life don’t match up to present day desires.
A good friend had recommended to me that I look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 in the Bible. She said to replace the word ‘Love’ with a name, and then ask myself if the verse still rings true. I’ll use my friend, Bill, as an example here:
“Bill is patient, Bill is kind. Bill does not envy, Bill does not boast, Bill is not proud. Bill does not dishonor others, Bill is not self-seeking, Bill is not easily angered, Bill keeps no record of wrongs. Bill does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Bill always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.“
Bill is married to my best friend so I feel I know him somewhat well. And I would say, from the outside looking in: YES! When I replace the word “Love” with his name, the statement is absolutely still true. I could replace Bill’s name with my ex-husband’s name, and the statement is absolutely false. See how that works? Even when relationships go through troubled times, you can come back to this and ask yourself…if I replace the word ‘love’ with my own name, am I acting in a loving manner? Is the statement true when my name is inserted here? There are going to be times when you need to course-correct, but at your core…are you “love”?
To me, that’s what love is about and love can be defined, simply, in four sentences. Love doesn’t have to be written in the stars or broadcast all over social media to matter. I am not defined by how the world views my relationship status.
I don’t know if you agree or not with me on the subject of love. That’s what the comment section is for, but before you blast me with how wrong I am about this, take a moment and replace the word love with your name or the person who says they love you. How true is it then?