Many years ago, a friend asked me, “Maria, what makes you feel loved?” The question stopped me cold in my tracks. I was quiet for a bit because the truth was, I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer the question. But today, I know exactly what makes me feel loved. I feel loved when I feel seen. I feel loved when I feel heard. I feel loved when I feel safe, secure and understood. I feel loved when my children hug me or take a walk with me. I feel loved when I arrive to lunch with a friend and see that they’ve ordered me something that they know I like.
Over the years, I’ve learned that love isn’t just the stuff of movies or novels. It’s the day-to-day stuff that you don’t hear about often enough. Love is someone putting a blanket over you. Love is someone calling you simply to say hi. Love is someone taking you to the doctor and patiently waiting by your side. Love is someone stopping to listen to you. (I mean, really listen to you.) Love is when someone gives you their time and speaks to you in a loving and kind way.
I’ve also learned what love isn’t. Love isn’t degrading or belittling. It’s not shameful or confusing. Someone doesn’t get to say “I love you” after degrading you or abusing you. (If you need a reminder of that, read Rob Porter’s ex-wife Jennie Willoughby’s.) They also don’t get to only tell you “I love you” after you get an “A” on a test or win first place in a competition. Love isn’t conditional. It’s healing. It’s nurturing. It’s empowering. And the good news is, we can all show it to one another in the here and now.
So on this weekend leading up to Valentine’s Day, I hope you are able to reflect on all the love in your life. I hope you are also able to take the time to reflect on the love being given to you, and on the love that you have to give to those around you. We all need to feel love, especially in these turbulent and changing times. I mean, look at us. People all around us are fighting and struggling. They are struggling financially, emotionally, spiritually, and, yes, physically. They feel lonely, anxious, scared, confused, and misunderstood.
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