Someone said to me today, “You tell people you know a few weeks, a few months, “love you.” I hear that when you are on the phone with your friends, ending conversations with love you. That is so superficial. That is because you’ve led such a fucked up life with your horrible upbringing, that you tell people that. You don’t know what love really is. How can you say that to someone you haven’t known for a long time? ”
This first left me speechless, sad, mad, and then questioning myself. Does it really make me superficial for saying that? What does this say about myself?
This followed me on subsequent calls with clients, friends and family. It led me to really examine what love means to me.
Yes, I have had my share of losses. Yes, I have made myself the rock during hard times, drawing myself up by my boot straps when I felt alone. It became my part of my survival DNA. Over the years, I realize also, that in order to experience love, it required me to shed my protective armor. It requires me to be vulnerable. For me, that means telling people I love them when I feel it. All the time. Irregardless of even love hurts. I grew up with parents who withheld love. Then relationships that withheld love. I used to withhold love, then I realized that it didn’t necessarily hurt them, but me. I thought it would keep me safe, from hurting, but I just felt an emptiness inside. It may have hurt them, but it hurt me more.
Seeing this is what makes me continue to be able to love wholeheartedly. In times when the shit hit the fan, even at the risk of being seen with my heart on my sleeve, I love. Even today when someone I love so much said those words to me and it hurt, I continued loving that person. Today, I went back and applied love to the places that hurt. For the present, and the past. Today, I went way back, into those places, in the darkness of my childhood, and the timeline over the years when I did not get that love, or kept love away. I spent time giving some love back to those old parts of me and felt better.
So tonight, I giggled and laughed, and loved up my 4 year old as we got ready for her bedtime. I recognize that just because someone else have a different ideology of love, I don’t have to make it mine. I LOVE fiercely, without shame or on someone’s terms. Love has many layers, intense, paternal, romantic, childlike etc. I can meet someone and feel love for them right off the bat. I love animals and children with abandonment. I can find something to love in most anyone. Does that make me naive? I am not sure. I just know that I spent too many decades alone.
Tonight, I encourage everyone who has love, and gotten hurt, to continue to love wholeheartedly, even when you might not know what the outcome may bring. We may not have control over our external circumstances, but we have a choice in how we love.
Have you loved someone wholeheartedly in the face of hurt, of vulnerability, of the chance of it not being received or returned? I would love to hear your experiences below.