The Four Letter Word7:00 AM
Imagine being in the arms of someone, their warmth, their scent, them all around you and in the core of your being, you want to say something but you just can't. The “can't” sits on the top of your throat, at the tip of you tongue forbidding three little words from escaping from your lips. This “can't” refuses to delve into the past to find out why it exists. What happens when you want to say “I love you” to someone and you can't?
Growing up, I thought I had life figured out. If you follow what the books, movies, magazines, TV shows, love is pretty straight forward. Boy/girl meets girl/boy, sparks fly, a little misunderstanding, a resolution of the misunderstanding, then they have the ideal relationship. Sounds easy, sounds text book, even, but is that really the case when it comes down to the four letter word?
Now, at the age of 33 years, 364 days old, I've come to accept that love, the romantic version, is not so cut and dry. I've come to accept that there are many aspects to consider when one thinks about love such as:
Your parents: How did they display love and how that is the foundation of how you view love and how you love another person or if you can love another person.
The adults in your life: They may not make an impact as great as your parents but they are another reference point in your understanding love.
The books you've read: Did you read mostly romance novels or stories where love is a non issue.
The experiences of your peers: A lot of lessons can be learned from the love lives of those in your peer group.
It was only a few weeks ago that I realized that my reference points were quite appalling. When I thought of love, I only had negative, heart breaking references. For every success, I had three failures. And somewhere along the line, on a subconscious level, I don't believe in love. So if I don't believe in it, how can I want it?
Sure I would see couples in real life and in the media, and wish I had that but as soon as I'm in vicinity of what they have, I shut down, I push away, I become the awkward duckling. So how do I flip the switch? How do I, first, believe in love and, second, learn to love?
- Pushing limits
Awareness: For a long ass time (which is much longer that a long time), I thought my perception was “normal”. The reality is nothing is normal, there are a lot of things that are common practice, but normal is a myth. At some point in my life, I should have checked in with myself, checked in to see if the life that I was living was the life I wanted to live. In this case, I should have been asking myself two questions
What does my love life look like and why does it look like this?
What do I want my love life to look like?
From that point, I would have my starting point and my end point, and it would be up to me to build the bridge between. The bridge would be taking different actions from what I've been doing before, thinking and perceiving things differently. As long as I know where I'm going and take action, I will eventually get there.
Acceptance: It is so easy to complain, to bemoan, to rant and rave about a situation. It is so easy to focus on the negative, but it doesn't change the situation. You can't undo a landslide, but you can remove the debris. The landslide happened, yes, you can look into what caused it so it won't happen again but it makes no sense sitting on top of the debris lamenting about this and that.
I know what caused my faulty perception about love and I accept it. When I accept it, I take the power into my hands to make the necessary changes. There is a sense of peace in acceptance and in accepting, I let go of the anger and resentment. In accepting, I can focus on making positive change.
Pushing Limits: I don't think I will be able to spout “I love you's” every time I meet that special someone, but I can build up to saying it once. I can build up to calling on the regular to talk ish. I can build up to more hand holding. It's better I take things slowly and make lasting change than jumping into the deep end and becoming totally uncomfortable.
Each time I step out of my comfort zone, I'll revel in it, pat myself on the back. Each time I am comfortable at the old limit, I'll push further. And when it's all said and done, I will be a new person, a person who loves fully and passionately.
So, will this take a month, a year, 5 years? I'm thinking a lifetime, I've spent 30+ years thinking one way about love, it may take me another 30+ to adopt a new way of thinking. But how ever long it takes, I want my relationships to be a hybrid of my parents', my maternal grandmother's and my friend's in NYC relationships. I want them to:
- Be full of laughter and mischief
- Be rich with support and respect
- Always have mutual attraction
- Be a great companionship
- Have a lot of expression of love and gratitude, spoken and otherwise
I might not be able to say “I love you” but I will start by saying “I care about you”. It is better than nothing.