We are now in the throes of the holiday season and I’ve been meditating on the power of love. I don’t put much stock in the Hallmark version of the attachment. That version of love has always seemed too easy and too clean. It also never looked like the love I experienced. The love that I’ve experienced in my life is in the small moment, not grand gestures.
I used to be overwhelmed by the idea of loving those in my life well. I thought I had to make big changes and show up in ways I’m not best equipped to do so. What I started to do, was think about what others have done for me that has made me feel most loved. I think about being a child and my mom blending the spaghetti sauce so that I wouldn’t have my sensory issues triggered by the texture of onions. She would always carry hand lotion with us when we would go to the pool because she knew ic could stand the pruning my fingers would go through after each dip in the pool. My dad has always filled in any gap he saw. He coached my basketball team and I can’t remember a major event he wasn’t present at growing up. I would get upset and cry when I got overwhelmed when i was really young, think younger than six. I’d get sent to my room to calm down. Dad would always be there with a cool washcloth to soothe me. This reaffirmed to my child’s brain that i hadn’t done anything or responded so poorly that i was disgraced. Besides his presence, my dad has always helped me find solutions to stressful problems. He jokes that he can do that because he’s an engineer. I think he’s just good at solving problems and that makes him a good engineer. I can remember how while I was in the hospital, I was worried about my cat and how i was going to get all my stuff back to my parent’s house. It was my dad who moved it all back and took care of Willow while I was sick. He’s been a listening ear during so many late-night conversations and was always patient with me. My mom has always given solid advice, be accepting and understanding while helping me process through my emotions which can be overhwlmeing and complex. When i think about how they loved me well growing up, they played into the strengths they already had. Neither of them turned themselves into an entirely different person, they were just the best of who they could be. I aspire to do the same.
I’ve been reflecting on how I want love to be a core value of mine and thinking about how that might impact how I interact with the world. Someone who has helped me understand what it means to incorporate love as a core value in everyday life is my boyfriend. One of the things I admire about the way he moves through the world is he always gives people the benefit of the doubt and is gentle with everyone’s emotions. I tend to speak before I’ve thought through how it’ll impact those around me. Being around him brings a feeling of peace and clarity to what is really important. He’s taught me that it’s best to listen and observe before speaking. He also exemplifies persistence. He shows up even when he doesn’t know what I need. It can be uncomfortable I’m sure when I’m upset and he doesn’t know how to soothe or support me. I want to be like him in that i never stop showing up for those who i love even when it is awkward.
There are so many other people who I’ve learned so much from. Another value I want to practice is hospitality. I’ve been welcomed into a faith community and my current friend group. I was scared that I would be rejected by both. The consistent and persistent invitation to be in community with others has healed me more than they will ever know. I hope that I can give back to both communities that have given me so much.
In closing this exercise in reflection, I want to also thank my siblings and extended family. My brother and sister have always loved me no matter what was going on and handled difficult situations with humor and grace. My extended family has taught me a lot and provided much-needed support.
This holiday season, I hope we can all reflect on those who have loved us and helped us get to where we are today. It isn’t always blood family. Sometimes it’s chosen family exclusively. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season.
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