Thursday, October 21, 2004

Mars/Venus: Taking Love As It Comes

Now that I've written that title, I'm wondering if this really is a Mars/Venus thing or whether it's just a human thing. I am speaking of the tendency among people in relationships (romantic, familial or whatever) to feel unloved or that somehow the person(s) in their life are not meeting their needs. Entire industries (talk shows, internet p*rn, reality makeovers, plastic surgery) have been created around mitigating the effects of those feelings of unloveableness or unworthiness, which tells me that they are neither a random nor rare occurrence.

We all know, in the clear light of day, that love is not something you can extort or cajole or beg or force from someone. It either exists or it does not. But what we often forget is that love can be present, it can be offered, it can be bestowed in ways other than those which we have learned to consider legitimate. So many of the times we may feel unloved or unworthy, what we are really experiencing is a failure to see the love being given to us because it doesn't meet our innate criteria for what love should be or how love should be given.

It's interesting that we never look at children and wonder why they don't give us love on OUR timetable and at OUR convenience. When my niece runs up to me when I walk in the door, hugs me around the legs, and says (using her name for me), "Lally! Lally! I love you!," I pick her up, kiss her all over her face while saying, "How's my best pal in the whole world?!" I don't place a value judgement on her timing or delivery. Whenever my niece wants to tell me I'm the greatest, I am all ears for her message, however she wants to tell, paint, draw, sing for me. I don't require that she use bigger, better, more florid prose. I don't need her to say it more often. I don't need her to stop otherwise annoying me with her childish behavior at other times for me to believe that she means what she says right now as she tells me she loves me. I don't question her love. It just is what it is, and I accept it gratefully and with a full, happy heart.

Why do we lose that ability as we grow older? Why do we all of a sudden start thinking someone doesn't love us, when all they are doing is sharing that love in a way we don't consider to be real? Why do we put value judgements onto someone's expression of love? Why do we feel disrespected when our parents don't talk to us/treat us/socialize with us/love us in the exact way we feel we need to have it happen rather than being grateful that they are here to give it at all? Why do we find a partner's attempt to love us at an inconvenient time to be an annoyance rather than an embarrassment of riches? Why do we forget that a true sign of maturity is recognizing that sometimes something you think is really important is not; it's simply a crutch or a defense mechanism you have built over the years?

I don't have the answer. If I did, I'd be a far better partner, daughter, sister and friend.

Short Story Long: Resolve that Just For Today, when someone offers you love---be it via nagging, awkward silence when you want to speak, public kisses when you are shy, concerned phone calls when you are busy, emailed articles when you hate spam, inquiries into your health and dating life when you feel invaded, playful teasing when you don't feel playful, expressed disappointment with an action you've taken when you don't need to hear it from someone else, fear of losing you when you wish for the moment that they'd go, silly phone calls when you are swamped at work, a home-cooked meal when you ate at the office, a backrub when you don't feel like receiving one---accept the love. Take it. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Count yourself lucky among millions to have someone who takes the time to express it. No, not in the way you want or need right now. But don't banish the love. Banish your "needs" instead. You won't regret it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so well written. So true as well. I do this all the time to my husband. I want him to be more like me and talk more like me and understand me more like me. It is not possible. because he is not me.

Thank you for writing this.