Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness, speak cheering words while their ears can hear, and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them. William Congreve
For much of my life there have been only a very, very few close to me to whom I have expressed my deeper feelings to. My son, two wives, my brother and a lover or two filled that short list near completely once upon a time. Eventually difficulty, heartbreak and disappointment softened me to be the man I am today who is far more openly expressive about his feelings toward others. Yet, I am just a “baby” in expressing the contents of my heart.
I am stuck by the realization there are likely two extremes of experience that opens one’s heart to be able to express their love and affection freely to others.
1) Although foreign to me, I believe one method is when a person grows up in an environment of love freely expressed and openly practiced for them by parents and family. As long as there is no grievous mental or emotional injury a person grows up to realize the ability to express tenderness, compassion and love is a great strength.
2) The other is my path. It is one of being thrashed by life until one may emotionally close them self off completely from the world and hide inside a hard shell. There a person may permanently stay or else may find them self cracked open by life experiences as I was. The realization for me found the hard way is simple to state. Love is all that really matters.
Neither method always works. I am at a loss to explain why. Why a deeply loved person can sometimes grow up to be mean, hurtful and uncaring is beyond my ability to understand. But I know it happens. Why the school of hard knocks frequently causes some people to become cynical and uncaring if not completely numb or mean and breaks other’s hearts I have not explanation for.
How much simpler life would be if my realization of method number two was something I previously practiced consistently in all areas of my life. Without growing up in an environment that nurtured an expressive love instinct to be inherent, I am a child in an adult’s body in areas of emotion and its expression. It is only by the realization of this that I am able to learn and see myself somewhat clearly. I can not become more than I am unless I first accept myself as I am.
Raising my son has been a great teacher about open expression of feeling. For me to open myself lovingly to him has always been easy and natural. Maybe that comes from knowing how much I yearn to this day to have love expressed to me by my parents. Though impossible, that wish will never go away. It is human nature to sometimes learn from the lack in one’s life. That lesson learned well gives a person the ability to give to others what they them self never had. It is then a hunger that is sated by reversing the need and expressing to others what is desired. Growing up I told my son every day I loved him and to this day every contact ends with that expression which is always reflected back to me.
To all the women who have loved me through the years, thank you for what you taught me. I regret only in retrospect can I see and appreciate you as I should. Please know what you expressed was not wasted on me in any amount. While I may have under appreciated your love at the time, today I am deeply grateful for it. I know in return I said the words without knowing how to give them their full meaning then. However please know today I benefit from all the kindness, tenderness and caring you ever showed me. Thank you!
It embarrasses some of my dear friends when I tell them I love them openly and sometimes in front of others. I can see the befuddled look on their face occasionally but it is always combined with an appreciative gaze. Somewhere inside I came to the conclusion that try as I might I can never express love to others too much. In my knowledge there is no one in the world who has ever had too much love in their life. I have never read or heard of anyone for whom there was excess of love that was hurtful or a burden. Yes, there are those who through obsession rave on and on with “I love you, I love you, I love you”. That is far from love and absolutely not a true expression of the emotion.
It is sad to note that most people today live in a lack of love. The majority of people neither express their love to overs or have it said to them in the amounts they need. I am glad to be in recovery from that “dis-ease”. Today it is still not easy for me to tell someone “I love you” for the first time whether it be friend or more than friend. However, once past the first time I am glad to have learned to be openly expressive. How much richer my life is because of this!
It is said that what you put into the world comes back to you multiplied. Maybe that is why life nearly crushed me emotionally some years back. The trail of emotional damage and mayhem I left behind me apparently echoed back to bring me to my knees. But “what does not kill you makes you stronger” the old adage goes and so is the case with me. Today the love of others I send into the world resounds strongly back to me. How simple, yet how very difficult this lesson was.
I am grateful for all the people I love and for all the love that is shown me whether the demonstration comes directly or in an indirect way. The type of expression really does not matter. To go along with saying “I love you” there are a thousand ways to say it without words. To date I have probably learned about a hundred and eleven of them and look forward to knowing more about the other eight hundred or so other ways to say “I love you”.
You don’t blast a heart open. You coax and nurture it open, like the sun does a rose.