...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

'who knows the feelings, but never the words'

is there any combination of words more powerful than "i love you"?

oh, sure, phrases such as "i'm sorry," "please forgive me," "don't be stupid," or "i'm disappointed in you," are strong in their own right and, upon receiving them, can remain tethered in our memories for years after their delivery (maybe for a lifetime. this possibility, honestly, scares me a little bit).

but i believe "i love you" carries so much weight it can be engulfing, or it can set you free.

i remember distinctly the first time i ever said "i love you" to someone outside of my immediate family. the words spilled out of me like i'd been gutted. the man i shared them with paused what he was doing and the silence in those few seconds (fabled hours) was so painful to my enamored heart that i wished for a rewind button on life. i lay there in the dark, this man above me, and i was trapped in mid-cringe, thankful he couldn't see me. thankful, it would seem also, that i couldn't see him.

"you don't really mean that," he finally said. "you don't really love me. you can't."

"there are rules about this kind of thing?" i thought, taking in his words.
"i can give you what i have like some badge, but i can't receive that?"

then we returned to what we had been doing together prior to the confession i apparently never meant. because i did love him. and, of course, i believed in my "life is mine to have what i want" mentality, i could and would make him love me. life's other fabled matter, btw.

push life's fast forward button and we find ourselves a few months down the road. still doing what we did. still debating feelings. at an impasse. amidst long, gut wrenching letters of want (which, i learned many years down the road he still possesses), thrown objects, tears and tesla's love song screaming out of the stereo speakers in my college bedroom (the long version, my friends, allows you to say a lot and get nowhere with someone you love in during the one minute and 30 second instrumental intro) we finally took a break, took a breath and lied when we said we didn't love each other (how could we possibly? the scene we were in was so obviously devoid of passion!).

but we did. very much.

two years later, after failed relationships on either side and letter after letter hinting at it, we reconnected, fell into something physical and then, in the middle of a 3 a.m. telephone call, this man who told me i could never love him, who had never before said he loved me, told me he did.

"always have," he said.

we said those very powerful words so freely from that point on, it was as if the two of us had created this new language and the only way to test it was to say it constantly. for months, we literally sighed and i think flowers bloomed when we said it. we planned a marriage to then show everyone we knew how important those words were to us.

then, in the middle of another 3 a.m. telephone call, after many times hearing, "say it for me, please, sweetheart..." we somehow ended up saying our goodbyes. literally.

so for the above reason, for so many more examples, i hold onto the idea that "i love you" has a power we can't even see. and i realized this week, in the midst of a conversation with someone who has become a friend, that i may very well be lacking in power - both in giving and receiving it.

i've been accused of saying "i love you" too much. i've hugged friends at the end of visits and said it. i tell my children it more than once daily. i say it to people i hardly know, yet have made connections with that can't be seen.

telling you all that and reading it myself, it seems a bit shocking in light of my family of origin and what would seem to be an aversion to the words "i love you." honestly, we never say it. ever. when i consider that now, it's almost like we're ashamed or we should just assume we love each other because we share blood and biology. i brought this lesson into my marriage, as well, and while early on, for many years, my husband and i raved about how we loved each other (i even took out an advertisement in the newspaper to tell everyone. never mind i was the editor of the newspaper and we got free ads...)
we don't do it so much now. this is a fact that i hate to think comes with the advances of marriage. i assume everyone still confesses their love for their partner in both intimate and routine circumstances. maybe that's silly. maybe that's just me trying to shake off nature versus nurture in light of the really poor example of marriage i grew up a witness to.

because the lack of of power i offer up or take in? kinda hurts. powerfully.

a couple of years ago, in the midst of what remains the worst experience of my life, i remember my parents and my husband engulfing me in their concern and desire to simply take this thing away for me. their actions conveyed their love for me completely, but words to that affect hadn't been said. one afternoon, as my mother was preparing to depart my house, i wiped at tears and found my heart so incredibly full that i burst out with "i love you." she was shocked. not unhappy, mind you, but the look on her face was one of surprise. at some point, she returned the sentiment, and left. i stood watching her, thinking about how easily i can say "i love you" to people outside of my immediate family and vowing to say them more often to my parents, my husband and my sister.

and i did. for a time. but now, after a few weeks where it seemed my parents were looking at me like "we get it. seriously..." every time i ended a visit or call with "i love you," my efforts died out.

sure, i tell my husband i love him, but admittedly not often enough. i wish to hear those words from him before i ever have to say them first. before i have to think (and sometimes say out loud) that "you, too," doesn't count (ok, it does, but...) when it comes in response. most days, we go about our hours on the assumption that we'll always have the opportunity to say "i love you."

like it matters when.

keep in mind that i don't wish to be rewarded or showered with "i love you" remarks every time i offer them or wait for them. i'd just like to store them away. and to figure out why i can say it to people who are important to me, but who are not necessarily dependent upon me. to figure out that it's ok to just take a breath and say it every day to my husband and family.


i suppose it takes power.

i just need more of it.


21 Comments:

Blogger Nanette said...

I'll be right over, we can talk over a bowl of emandems. (I wish)

I had a really hard time with the whole "I love you" thing. It took me a long time to get to a point where I felt comfortable saying those words to anyone. Looking back, I think admitting love was really, setting myself up for loss--something I was and still am deeply afraid of.

kipak
mvysi
(apparently I take too long and can't read)
jvvsyxj

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 3:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Savage said...

I've used the phrase rather freely in my youth... but eh... I probably still would had I someone to say it to....
Until then... I lust you

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 5:17:00 AM  
Blogger Stacie said...

I love you.

DH and I recently had a "discussion" about this very topic. Despite the upbringing I had (similar to what you mentioned here) it's not something I had an easy time saying either, now, it rolls off my tongue so easily it scares people. I say it to everyone, after having lost someone without telling them how I felt about them, I vowed never to let that happen again. I love my friends, I love my family, I love my pets, and damn hell, they're gonna know it whether they like it or not and if it makes them squirm then they get an "I'm sorry it makes you squirm, but I love you!"

Some people just don't get that not all love is "romantic" love..I have a girlfriend who really has a hard time hearing I love you...I say to her a little extra...that's the mischief in me I suppose.

Great post.
Stacie

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:56:00 AM  
Blogger Tajalude said...

I guess everyone is different. My husband says "I love you" a dozen times a day or more, and I could go with less. I feel like he thinks that statement is a band-aid and if he says it, whatever the issue is will just go away because he told me he loved me.

I am liberal with my "I love you's" to my friends, parents, husband, and sister, but my brothers and I never say it. What's up with that?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:12:00 AM  
Blogger LBP said...

Wow.

Nothing to add or say, just want you to know I read it and thought about it.

Thanks for the thought FADKOG. Have a great Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 9:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

This was very, very powerful - I am not sure I have anything more to add than just to tell you that this really hit home - beautiful writing - you really made this come alive..

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 9:31:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Terrific post, DKG. I'm not so used to getting 'poignant' when I come here, but you do it very well.

Like you, I grew up in a relatively 'affection-challenged' family. We certainly loved each other, we just didn't say it a lot. And it really threw me sideways when I fell in with some folks in college who were much, uh, freer with their expressions of love. Let's just say I soaked it up like a dry sponge. One of my good guy-friends and I used to part company by saying to each other, in a sort-of mock-macho tone, "I love your ass, man." Yeah, I know. . . we were 19; and we really did love each other, in a strong, brotherly man-to-man way, not at all sexual (I've commented elsewhere on the perverse tendency of our culture to 'sexualize' all friendships; well, screw that. . .)

Anyway, sorry for the ramble. Over the years, Molly and I have come to the conclusion that one can't profess one's undying love to one's spouse too often, and we make it a point, before we drop off to sleep at night, to say 'I love you' one last time, whether any sweet lovin' has preceeded such profession, or not. And we tell our kids a lot; even the teenage boys. I'm glad that my sons know that I love them, and that they don't just have to infer it from the checks I write on their behalf. And they're getting over their embarrassment. . .

And - more power, indeed. "God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him[/her]." You're on the right track, my friend. . .

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 9:32:00 AM  
Blogger April said...

growing up in a family that never much said "I love you" and didn't know how to show it...i say & show it often as i can. i've always felt that it is something to be shared and not kept hidden...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

I personally love how you can follow up a post about tennis shoes with something like this.

And now I'm at a loss as to what to say. I want to ask you questions and keep it about you. But I'm gonna do what us bloggers do best: I'll make it about me. Story follows.

Before I ever dated anyone, I told a very good female friend how I hated it when people threw around the "I love you" with people they just met. Shortly thereafter, I began dating a different girl, my first girlfriend, and we spent tons of time together. I fell for her, completely. And within that very first month, I told her I loved her. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. I don't know. But I sure thought I did at the time.

After we broke up, that old female friend was mad at me. She called me on the fact that I had done the very thing that I hated. But I *truly* thought I loved this other girl.

Love is hugely important, but it's also hugely abstract. There's many types of love, and there's no distinguishing line of where it starts and where it ends. Some people use the term so much it loses meaning. Others have a fear of using it at all. Autumn's family never says it to each other. My Mom says it to me all the time... On the phone, in email, in person.

But it's nowhere as important as it is in marriage. Where and how it is said is probably more important to me than how often it is said.

I think I just created a whole blog post in your comments. Sorry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Finished Last said...

This is why I love reading you. Wow.

aswpnb

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger XI Summit said...

Amazing power, no doubt. The power to transform evn some who'drather not be transformed. I came from an I-Love-You challeneged family and married into an equally challenged family. The first time I said I Love You to Queenie her response was 'What?'. Not that she didn't hear me, but that she didn't believe me. Took along time for her to 'feel the love' and respond, but that's another story.

I've said a few times that there are several people in the family who have changed drastically over the years and I'm convinced that well-timed 'I Love You's, a generous dose of uncomfortable hugs, and a few kicks in the behind from God were responsible. Thanks for the reminder. Power indeed!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:09:00 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

nanette - i'd love you more than i do now if you brought over one of those giant bags of peanut m&m's!

i totally understand what you're saying, fusing the use of 'i love you' with what may result in ultimate loss, and how the happiest thing can become the worst.

you know i love you without the m&m's though, right?!

savage - lust? just as good, silly.

stacie - when people put the word discussion in quotes, i assume this means they had a "fight." or is that just at my house?!

i'm still working on having it roll off my tongue. i mean, it does in so many capacities that i think are as equally as important were i doing the same with my family. but it's tougher with them.

thanks for the love, too, btw!

taja - i *completely* get the "i love you band aid" scenario. completely. and i'm not without guilt in having used it before.

as for saying it to family, i wish i could figure it out. i honestly can't think of when i have ever said it to my sister or vice versa!

lbp - thank you...

wendy - i'm so pleased you came back.thank you for that, and for your kind words.

desmond - am i not doing "poignant" enough!? i've been lacking, haven't i?

but seriously, dude, i read what you wrote in ftn's comments about getting your lower jaw moving and wow...i had to take a moment! that's showing some love!

my friend, i'm glad you come here even when i'm not necessarily poignant!

april - it sounds like you have a wonderful game plan in place there. it's truly what i'm striving for.

ftn - can you imagine if i'd followed up the handful of panty-related entries with a post like this one?

shall i give you a minute?

ok.

you should know that i totally agree with you in reference to sharing this sentiment in marriage. i'd much rather have a 'where' and 'how' that struck me more than the 'how often'

and trust me, considering the length of the replies i leave in your posts, you have a right to come in here and start moving furniture around and make this place your own!

finished - you're very kind, and i so appreciate your words.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

xi - sorry! i'm tired and didn't mean to forget you with the rest.

heh...please don't think i don't 'love' your visits and comments!

i think my husband was a bit like your wife the first time i told him i loved him. his family is almost as non-demonstrative as my own, and i think sometimes people question our motives when we say it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger April said...

yes, the game plan is in place...following that plan is not always easy, though.

i really hope my comment didn't sound arrogant...it was not meant as such. my moods lately have been erratic...heh.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:54:00 AM  
Blogger Stacie said...

LOL, yeah...it wasn't a knock down drag out, but a little more intense than a real discussion. An argument...of sorts..

stacie

Thursday, April 12, 2007 2:27:00 PM  
Blogger XI Summit said...

"You Love me (...visits), you really Love me (... comments)." I am truly honored.

"and i think sometimes people question our motives when we say it." Now isn't that the truth? Some families use it as manipulation rather than for the 'pure' power it holds.

Friday, April 13, 2007 9:40:00 AM  
Blogger JUnderCovers said...

Mrs. J and I say it all the time, probably to the point of nausea were there anyone listening, but since we hate company, it's not a problem. We say it to the dogs and kitties a lot too. Both of us had mothers who lavish(ed) it upon us so we're just used to it. It means various things at various times, so it doesn't always have to be an earth-shattering declaration of love for us. It's more of a confirmation that no matter what we do, how annoying we are to each other, how completely vexing we can be, we do in fact love each other every single day.

Friday, April 13, 2007 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

april - trust that i definitely didn't take your comments as arrogant, not in the least. please know that how you wish to comment, you can do so here!

stacie - then cheers to healthy discussion. i'd like to get me some of that! have a wonderful cruise!!

xi - the manipulation aspect, when it can come into play in a 'love' relationship, is key to look out for, definitely.

and of course i love having you visit. did that bolster you more?! heh!

j - i completely get what you are saying. i have a tendency to do this much more than my husband - the saying it no matter what the "purpose" of it. i also make a point of telling him that while in front of our sons, which is an entirely different lesson in love altogether.

as always, love your visits and your comments.

Friday, April 13, 2007 3:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Nocturnal said...

Quite the tune equated accordingly per my first perusal of you. Hope your well and take care. Sorry for the lack of perusals, I've been so tapped with the day job.

Friday, April 13, 2007 6:49:00 PM  
Blogger XI Summit said...

Oooh, whatta rush ...

Saturday, April 14, 2007 6:11:00 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

nocturnal - leave it to you to pick up on that. now all you have to do is play it for me sometime...

xi - glad to be of some service to you!

Monday, April 16, 2007 2:20:00 AM  

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