I usually have someone in my life who breaks my heart a little bit. Their identity changes, and isn’t really important. What’s important is what they teach me.
Sometimes it’s one who walks away from me rather than toward me when I’m crying. Other times it’s one who cannot seem to find ten minutes to look at a photo I’ve taken or something precious I’ve created – a gesture that would mean the world. Then there’s one who talks over my tales and walks out of the room as I bubble with excitement of what I want to tell them. Or the one who scoffs at emotions they don’t share.
These someones say “I love you” often. They make this sound, this word, ‘love’ a habitual noise, a jumble of the alphabet, whenever they see me.
They say love, in these moments, they don’t DO it.
For all of us, at some time or another, our love for others becomes about our own comfort, rather than theirs. Our self esteem is linked to this love because it defines us “I’m a loving person” we tell ourselves “look what I do for them.” Maybe a lot. But when it’s about us rather than them, it’s self love, so lets not kid ourselves. It’s like buying your very favourite peanut butter for someone with a nut allergy. It’s not what they want, it’s us going through the motions for our own benefit.
“I love you” shouldn’t be a habit, it should be a promise – a promise to stretch yourself to be there for the other person as they want or need you.
Stretching for love feels good, it grows your heart and mind.
Doing love is different for everyone. It might mean taking five minutes to put on fresh clothes and some lipgloss before your husband gets home, and taking that moment in the frenzy of witching hour with the kids to take a breath when he walks in the door, to smile at him like you see him, wrap your arms around his neck and linger with a kiss even if you’re distracted by the pot on the stove.
It might be asking, rather than assuming, what your friend or partner wants to do with your time together.
It might be listening, really listening.
It might be trying to read your lovers face and moods without words, to become their own intuitive.
Maybe it’s just really taking notice of the ceaseless chatter that is so important to your child. Maybe it’s saying “yes” in place of “I’m busy” when they come to you with wide eyes and open hearts.
It might be listening to a song with someone you love, to feel how the music talks to their soul.
Maybe it’s digging your heels in and staying grounded in moments your head is in the clouds, because your I love you can be the gift of your absolute presence.
It’s keeping ‘love’ as a verb, as it should be.
I used to believe the saying “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have”. In a way it’s true, but it forgets something – everyone, every single one of us makes a choice in every moment. Every one of us is capable of more.
So today, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m not going to get everything right, but I’m going to DO love. With every cell of my being I’m going to stretch myself for my family. I’m going to listen to those Lego tales, marvel at drawings, mirror the excitement in my babies eyes as he finds a particularly exciting leaf.
And I’m going to take this gift those someones have given me that I called disappointment and turn it into something beautiful – an ‘I love you’ that I say with my actions.