Even though I enjoy writing, I am not always the best when it comes to the spoken words.
For years, saying, “I love you” was particularly hard for me. Like many, I have issues when it comes to saying this word.
For example, I was afraid it made me too vulnerable. I also feared saying it and hearing that the person I was saying it to did not feel the same way about me. (I’ve had this happen several times, and trust me when I say it doesn’t get any easier with experience.)
Despite getting better at saying the “l” word, I prefer my actions to speak louder than words. The truth is, I love a lot of people.
I believe most of them know that, but you can tell I love you if I do the following:
1. I feed you.
After writing and photography, cooking is one of my favorite things to indulge in. I love to cook for others. However, I don’t have to cook a seven course, gourmet meal to show you that. Even if I just prepare a sandwich for you and open top of a juice bottle, it’s my way of saying I love you.
Nourishing someone physically is my way of saying I want to nourish you on the emotionally as well.
You don’t have to love my food. You can even think it’s terrible if that’s your honest opinion. A thank-you, though, is appreciated.
2. I take your picture.
Pictures are more to me than memories. They are glimpses into your soul. When I gaze upon your photo, I get some insight into your true self.
For example, that constant mugging? Maybe it shows you aren’t totally comfortable with your true self. If I happen catch you unexpectedly, sometimes I can really see some of that true self.
In any case, it’s honor for me when you allow me to take your picture. Thanks for sharing part of you with me.
3. I listen without interrupting.
This is hard for me. I always want to jump in with my two cents or with helpful advice in an attempt to “fix” your problem. However, I know there are times when you want just need to vent and/or get your thoughts out and that is when I know the best thing I can do is listen.
4. I give you gifts.
By gifts, I don’t necessary mean physical things or things that come wrapped in boxes. It may be the gift of listening. (See above.) It may be that cup of coffee you didn’t ask for, but I know you wanted. Or, it may be time. Perhaps you’re one of my single parent friends, and I offer to watch the kids for an hour for free so you can have some needed “me” time.
Also, I don’t want or expect anything in return when I give my gifts. In fact, I may even give them without you knowing that I was the giver.
5. I thank you for being in my life.
The reason I take the time to say is that I have found that a lot of people don’t know how much they are appreciated or loved or cherished until something drastic happens. (Sadly, sometimes they don’t even know then.)
By choosing to be in my life, I know you care, and that means a lot to me.
Actually, it means more to me than anything in the world and that is why I am giving thanks.
6. I want to touch you.
And by touch, I am not talking about the sexual kind. I am talking about a hand on the shoulder, a hug, or even a hand on the back when you’ve been having an extra rough day.
Studies with newborn preemies show that human beings need touch. That doesn’t stop once we reach adulthood. Indeed, sometimes we need it even more then.
Just because I may not say, “I love you” a lot doesn’t mean that I don’t feel that. Changes are, if you are in my life, you have experienced some or all of the above.
Hopefully, as I grow and overcome a lot of my “issues”, I will be able to say the l-word more freely. It’s my goal at least. However, even if I get to the point where I can clearly shout it from the rooftops, I will still do the above.
Lastly, please don’t think you have to do anything in return. Rather, just receive. It’s more than enough.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Julie Aucoin/Flickr