My last post ended this way:
I wasn’t able to comfortably say “I love you” to myself today, to recognize the Divine light that is me, partly because I haven’t heard it said to me enough in my life, especially as a child, when it mattered most. I imagine I am not alone in this.
I am going to practice. I am going to try to say “I love you” to others more often. Maybe this will help to heal a broken place in someone else, help others to see the Divine light that is them. Maybe it will help me to recognize the Divine light in myself as well.
Ha! My mind is already giving me a list of reasons why this is not a good idea. But I am going to try it anyway.
(If you would like to read the post, you can find it here.)
I am happy to report that I not only tried it but that it becomes easier and more rewarding each day. My challenge began on December 20. Since it was so close to Christmas, which many of my friends and family members celebrate, it was the perfect time to make some phone calls to people who, for various reasons, I had lost contact with.
I called one of my stepbrothers, someone I haven’t heard from for about three years. He never answers his phone, so I left a message. I told him I missed him. I said that it would be great if he called but that if he chose not to, that was OK. I wished him a Merry Christmas. I told him I loved him. He didn’t call me back, but that’s OK. He knows that I love him. And it felt good to tell him.
I also called a second cousin who lost her husband two years ago. I called her after her loss, of course, but we have never been close and haven’t spoken since. I called to wish her a Merry Christmas (I usually just send a card) and to tell her I love her. I left a message. She didn’t call back, but that didn’t bother me. She knows that I love her. And it felt good to tell her.
I called a friend who is going through a difficult time and walked away from our 20-year friendship a year ago. We send email greetings at holidays and birthdays, but that’s all. I called to wish her a Merry Christmas and to tell her that I love her. I called when I knew she’d be at work so as not to make her uncomfortable. She didn’t call back, but she sent a beautiful e-card and acknowledged the call. She didn’t say “I love you.” But that’s OK. She knows that I love her. And somehow I felt that my telling her may have brought her a moment of peace.
I realize that at this point, my summary may not be too inspiring, but just the act of saying “I love you” to people who I love brought me both energy and a deep sense of well-being. And, never fear, I did connect with quite a few people.
I called a friend I’d lost touch with over the past year, also to wish her and her family a Merry Christmas and to tell her I love her. She called back; we caught up a bit and set a date to get together.
I emailed another stepbrother, a young man who I’d fallen out of touch with but had recently reconnected with. (My father married five times; I have siblings all over the country, some who prefer not to be found.) I wished my brother a Merry Christmas and much luck in the new year with his job search. I told him that I love him. I was gifted with a silly, sweet response.
A hug and an “I love you” from a newer friend prompted me to return the “I love you,” without hesitation or embarrassment and has opened the way for a deeper relationship.
And I began saying “I love you” to my horses as I leave the barn each night. I’ve always said, “Goodbye, sweeties; see you tomorrow.” But I’ve added, “I love you,” just for the practice. It is difficult to explain the feeling of standing in the winter cold, under a dark sky, and sending my quiet “I love you” out into the paddock where my horses are munching their hay. While it does not seem to have an effect on them, the practice is deeply satisfying to me.
Please understand, I have not been grabbing strangers in the grocery store and proclaiming my love for them. I have not, in other words, lost my mind. I am just telling people who I love that I love them. A very small thing. A very big thing.
After just a few days of making sure I said “I love you” to a human at least once, I was able to say “I love you” to myself with no pain, no embarrassment, no feeling of inadequacy. Each day, it gets easier, and I have even been able to add my name to the end: “I love you, Pam,” a practice that seems to be grounding me in ways I hadn’t expected, seems to be slowing me down just a little bit and helping me to feel a stronger, and lovely, connection with others. A small internal shift, subtle yet profound.
I feel more loved. I can only hope that others do as well. There is no downside to this practice, so I’ve decided to make it permanent.
Would you be willing to begin an I Love You Project of your own? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you have received this post as an email, just click on the title to reply.