I have been thinking about this for a long time. Every Sunday morning, I spend time just reflecting on my week and my hopes for the upcoming week. I also spend time saying thanks for all the variety of things and people who touched me in some way. I call it my gratitude roll call. I wish sometimes it was a more tangible thing than just a quiet thank you in my head. But it is all I have. This brings up a concept which buzzes all the time in my head: love. LOVE. Simply that. Why are so many people afraid of giving and receiving and just having love?
I think we overuse “Love ya” to the point where it has diminished the value of the meaning of love. Way back, it was common to say “Luv ya” in an attempt to soften the impact that saying “I love you” creates. This is what my quandary is. Why does saying I love you have such a fear evoking response?
When we are kids, it is one of the first phrases we learn and hear. “I love you little one.” People gush it all over babies whether they are their own or not. Is it because the person can say it freely because the child knows no commitment and is unable to articulate a response? Is a true statement or a cliché? Does it run in the same vernacular as “I could just eat you up?” Heaven hopes that never comes true.
We often utter “oh I just love her” and I think that it is something we use and learn early in our youth as a peer acceptance mechanism. If you LOVE what everyone else does, you’re ok. To me, it is just a word to describe a form of acceptance when it is used in this manner. This is not what I am talking about when I say love.
As we get older and begin the ritual of bonding and mating, saying I love you has a whole new meaning. The first time it is said between two partners changes everything in their relationship and not always with a positive reaction. Why is that? I never got that. I can remember the first adult relationship I had and how saying I love you was not what the person wanted to hear. Of course at the time, I was not aware of his fear of commitment and he thought I was expecting more from the relationship than he was willing to give. Turn out for the best that he did not reciprocate, but I still love him. He will never know that.
When I was very young I had such a sense of love, or at least what I thought was love. Since it was me and my interpretation of the feeling, I am going with it and accept it as love. As I progressed through the past months, I discovered that feeling again and it felt weird. It was the unconditional love I gave as a child. There were many situations in my past which had tarnished that feeling to the point where it was almost forgotten. And once I started to sense it again, I felt like it was wrong. It was too innocent and naive. It made me vulnerable at a time when I was learning to be strong. It exposed me and I felt it left me a weakling. But it felt good when I allowed it. I realize now that it was actually part of my healing and has given me much strength. It is actually the unconditional love that is there for all of us if we allow it and it will flow freely if you let it.
I am still cautious as to who I express such a sentiment and only because the reaction is still such a surprise to me. People get flustered when you tell them you love them. I have tried to explore the reason behind this. I think it goes back to the training we get when we are younger. I think it is taught that when someone says I love you, they are asking for something in return. I think people expect that the receiver must reply with an automatic I love you back. Well, that is nice when it is real, but sounds so hollow when it is not. I would rather get a simple thank you. That is all that is required when someone gets a gift. And that is what love is. A gift.
Maybe my interpretation is off. When I say I love you I mean it to say” I accept you for whom and what you are. Your impact on me is a blessing and I am grateful. The only way I can show you how much you matter to me and the depth of how I feel for you is to say I love you”
There are levels and different types of love I give, but that is the basic concept to me. I do not equate love and sex in any context. Love to me is gender free. I have the love for my family which is varied for sure and changeable. The acceptance part is not always the same and in truth not always there. But family is not something we have complete control over so I have learned to relinquish the desire to control and just love them as they are. Not always as easy as it sounds. I have deep love for friends and then I have compassion for others. The difference is the compassion is not as all encompassing, but I honestly care for them. The circle of those I truly love is not large but the membership is faithful. That circle includes those who have come into my path to guide and nurture me. I truly love them for their gifts to me and I am eternally grateful. They are the ones who opened the door for me to discover what love is again.
I think we also stomp love out of people. I am trying to understand the thinking behind tormenting someone, be it a child or a spouse, because the perpetrator feels license to behave that way because their prey loves them. I am never going to give up being an advocate for the eradication of that behavior.
Maybe I am misinterpreting the word, but I think that love is something that is individually defined but available for everyone. I do not think that this is a subject I am ever going to get all my answers. But in my quest for learning, this is truly one I want more information on.