Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
I was washing my face the other day, eyes closed, scrubbing away, when I suddenly realised that I haven’t expressed love to anyone in a long time. Or rather, that I have not explicitly told anyone I love, that I love them.
This is odd to me, particularly because I regularly declare my love of other things.
I love One Direction.
I love my fabulous collection of fountain pens.
I love my new wallet. (It was 50 cents at my neighbour’s garage sale!)
I love whole milk lattes.
Did I mention how much I love One Direction, and that Louis Tomlinson is my OTP?
When I was growing up, my father would always admonish me whenever I used the word love to describe affection towards inanimate things.
“You can’t love a pair of shoes,” he’d say. “Love is a powerful emotion that doesn’t extend to frivolous things like your wardrobe. You really like your shoes. You think they look nice, and you enjoy wearing them. But you do not love them.”
I’d always balk of course, but being older and wiser (haha!) I now know what he was saying to be true. What I’m talking about when I say I love One Direction, is not the same thing as what I’m talking about when I tell my best friend that I love him, and that I miss him, and I can’t wait to see him in the summer.
I now feel that each time I use the word “love” to describe something that I only “passionately enjoy” I erode the meaning of L-O-V-E in my vocabulary, which is sad and makes me want to be much more precise in my use of language. I know the day will come when I really, truly do love someone, and I will be entirely willing to trade all the whole milk lattes in the world for an extra day with them. I’d even give up One Direction! (I know, can you believe it?!) Lattes are expendable. People you care about are not.
The Take Away From This
Try, for 24 hours, to pay very close attention to how you use the word love, both outloud and in your inner monologue. And when you catch yourself saying love, when what you really mean is “like”, or “really enjoy”, or “feel very strongly about”, correct yourself.
Try, for a week, to say “I love you” to one person each day, and really, really mean it. Of course, not every conversation needs to end with a death-bed monologue about your undying passion for the heart of your lover. Instead, try just saying what you mean, and meaning what you say, and being honest with the fact that you feel as though your life is made better by having that person in it. It’s really nice to hear that, and it feels fantastic to say.
Try, for however long it takes until you believe it, saying “I love you” to yourself in the mirror, at least once a day. I’ve been doing it for two weeks now, and I still feel extremely ridiculous when I do. In fact, I say it very quietly, so no one hears me. Isn’t that awful? I don’t know where I picked up the idea that it’s not OK to find yourself valuable and worthwhile and totally lovable, but I picked it up somewhere and it stuck. So now I’m trying to undo it and it’s difficult, but gratifying, and it gets a little easier each time. I also wrote “you look fantastic today” on my mirror in big, bold, pink window marker in my best writing. It’s a nice reminder of something I occasionally forget.
(No really- love!)