I like to hold my son’s hand when we’re driving.
It’s not easy—reaching backwards, driving one handed. But one of the positives to come out of my separation with his mother, is that I find myself really squeezing the juice out of every moment I have with him. So when I’m driving the car and he’s in his seat in the back I may not be able to see him but I can reach back and hold his hand in mine, or mine in his, and feel him.
And he loves it. He never used to be very tactile and is not a particularly affectionate child, but lately he likes holding my hand.
Come to think of it, when I was young I didn’t like holding hands either. Now, I could just hold my son’s hand all day long and not need much else!
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase shall we?
I was driving and holding my boy’s hand and we were chatting and he said something sweet and I said “I love you”.
And he said right back: “I love you too Dadda, but I can’t love you when I’m at the new house with Momma and you’re at the old house.”
And apart from breaking my heart again—which happens all the time lately and I’ve learnt that as much capacity a heart has for love it also has for getting broken, and the real art of life is to balance the two—my son also taught me what love is:
As a therapist, a large part of my work is about guiding people to a deeper love of themselves (raising self-esteem). I do this by healing the trauma that stopped them or blocked them or separated them from their natural state of being—love (including self-love).
But once that’s done, there’s more work to do, because loving yourself requires expression, as does everything in this world.
It’s not enough to heal the trauma of the past (so that you can be present now), it’s also necessary to have a strategy for the future—how do you love yourself?
What will that look like?
What form will it take?
What ‘doings’ will demonstrate and express your love for yourself?
What old habits unravel into ‘not-doings’ because your newfound love no longer accepts them?
When you love yourself, you Love Your Self.
Just like when you love another you hold their hand and you stroke their hair and you wash their dishes and you share their pain without judgment because…because you love them.
And my son understands this better than most. Better than I have done lately.
Love is also a verb.
You can start by sharing this post, (smile).
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: courtesy of the author