“I Love You”

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Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.
William Shakespeare

It was Carol’s fiftieth birthday, and Jim had two plane tickets to Hawaii in his pocket. He was going to surprise her. Instead, he was killed by a drunk driver.

“How have you survived this?” I finally asked Carol, a year later.

Her eyes welled up with tears. I thought I had said the wrong thing, but she gently took my hand and said, “It’s all right; I want to tell you. The day I married Jim, I promised I would never let him leave the house in the morning without telling him I loved him. He made the same promise. It got to be a joke between us, and as babies came along, it got to be a hard promise to keep. I remember running down the driveway, saying ‘I love you’ through clenched teeth when I was mad, or driving to the office to put a note in his car. It was a funny challenge.

“We made a lot of memories trying to say “I love you” before noon every day of our married life. “The morning Jim died, he left a birthday card in the kitchen and slipped out to the car. I heard the engine starting. Oh, no, you don’t, buster, I thought. I raced out and banged on the car window until he rolled it down.

“Here on my fiftieth birthday, Mr. James E. Garret, I Carol Garret, want to go on record as saying I love you!”

“That’s how I’ve survived. Knowing that the last words I said to Jim were ‘I love you!’
http://www.inspirationalarchive.com/246/the-last-i-love-you/

Saying “I love you” can become routine.  I never speak the words unless I mean them, but the feeling is not always distinctly alive with their speaking. With those I care deeply about it’s a habit to end a phone call with “I love you” or for those to be parting words. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s a good practice. What matters is to make sure the feeling behind the words is present within them being spoken.

In a romantic relationship, I have had a tendency to say “I love you” too frequently. It’s healing to admit I realize sometimes such words are spoken with the unconscious hope to hear the sentiment returned. I’ve had the experience where the other person is not one who expresses their feelings as easily and frequently. The attitude was ‘I said it yesterday. My feelings have not changed. You know how I feel about you.’ Within those tendencies we are both playing directly to our self and probably not as cognizant of our partner’s need as we could be. I no longer have expectations of hearing love expressed with any particular regularity and am grateful for the heartfelt times it is expressed. Guess I have grown up!

Within a small wake-up call alive in my head this morning it’s important to remind myself to cherish every moment with each loved person in my life. I don’t know when it will be the last time I see one of them. It is not the words that matter so much as the feeling behind them. I am grateful for a new flame of awareness flickering within.

Life isn’t a choice or an obligation,
it’s a gift,
so embrace it as much as you can.
You never know how much time you have left…
Nishan Panwar

Cannot Love Without Giving

unbalanced-scales The Rule of Obligation or Rule of Reciprocity says when others do something for us, we should feel a need to return the favor. By ‘evening the score’, so to speak, one is relieved of the ‘obligation’ created by a good deed done for them. In a general sense, one good turn really does deserve another.

Only in childhood is it normal to receive more than is given. With maturity we should become able to maintain more balanced giving/receiving relationships.As an adult to expect another to do for us without reciprocal good turns in some approximately balanced measure is somewhere between impolite, selfish and down right stealing of another’s time, effort and resources.

It does not matter if we ask for help or not. If another person does an uninvited favor for us and we accept it, there is still indebtedness for the receiver. Allowing another to do too much for us while we do too little will lead to an imbalanced relationship and in time, animosity.

When the give and take equilibrium becomes off kilter by one doing much and the other doing much less, both people are in essence controlling the other. One by what they allow to be given to them, the other by what that persons gives. The Rule of Obligation and Reciprocity is then broken and equal discomfort is caused for both parties (or at least should be).

It’s common for me to do too much for those I love and at times become frustrated because my considerations are not returned. Intellectually I know it is often just me “playing to my own needs” of being taken care of. Regardless I end up feeling under loved and in most cases am better off doing less which lowers my expectations. I’m working on that.

I am grateful today for a reminder that I still wrestle with feelings of giving, then feeling bad when the act is not reciprocated or at least acknowledged. The primary responsibility for my feelings belong to one person: ME! It is all my “stuff” to work on. Smiling. I am thankful for the nudge.

You can give without loving,
but you cannot love without giving.
Amy Wilson-Carmichael

 

The Source from Which Self-Respect Springs

A relationship without basic trust has no security. Lack of trust creates anxiety. When we can’t tolerate anxiety, we resort to blame. And blame kills relationships. Anxiety is at the core of blame. When we’re upset, disappointed or angry because of another person’s behavior, we often use blame to discharge our feelings. To say it bluntly, we dump our negative emotions onto another person. Carl Alasko, Ph.D., the author of the book “Beyond Blame”.

John is rushing through breakfast. There’s no milk. He’s upset and says to Mary, “Darn it, Mary, why can’t you at least keep some milk in the house?”

In essence, John is criticizing Mary of being too domestically incompetent to even keep track of the household’s supply of milk.

Instantly she gets angry. “You know, John, I work too.” Frequently an accusation follows: “Since when are you so important that you can’t buy some milk yourself?”

Mary’s accusation angers him even more. “I almost got laid off at work and you expect me to stop and buy milk?!” Clearly, this argument is only going to get worse.

The antidote to blame is simple: state your complaint without criticizing or accusing. Admittedly not an easy thing to do.

But here’s how it works. John says: “Oh, darn, there’s no milk.” Not a word more.

Since Mary is devoted to John and committed to their success as a couple, she takes on the responsibility. “Really? I’m sorry. I forgot.” Nothing more needs to be said. Mary already feels bad. Carrying on about it won’t add anything to either the discussion or the reliability of the household milk supply.

To ensure trust, avoid blame. It’s a simple formula that helps keep relationships together.
A decade ago I might have been able to grasp the concept that Dr. Alasko writes about, but I would not have been able to practice it consistently. My anger about the past and fear about the future would have prevented it. How very grateful I am today that storm has dissipated though acceptance, hard work and growth. Today ‘I get it’, thankfully!

The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life
is the source from which self-respect springs.
Joan Didion

The majority of what is above comes from an article by Carl Alasko, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beyond-blame/201110/how-blame-kills-love

Originally posted here on May 22, 2012

Real and True Friends

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Anyone can stand by you when you’re right, but a true friend will stick by you, even when you are wrong.

The best friend is the one who, in wishing me well, wishes it for my sake.

The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit beside without a word, and walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had.

Even when I can’t find the right words…you always understand what I mean.

Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say.

Everyone needs someone with whom to share their secrets.

A friend can tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself.

A friend is someone who dances with you in the sunlight and walks beside you in the shadows.

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. (Donna Roberts)

Friendship is celebrating the good times, struggling through the bad times, and being there for all time.

Friendship–the older it grows, the stronger it is.

A good friend is an umbrella for the heart.

A good friend sharpens your character, draws your soul into the light, and challenges your heart to love in the greatest of ways.

A good friend will come bail you out of jail. But a best friend will be sitting next to you saying…WE screwed up!

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

I’ve had many friends with whom I’ve shared my time, but very few with whom I’ve shared my heart…

No matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

A real friend knows when to listen, when to stop listening, when to talk, when to stop talking, when to pour wine, and when to stop pouring and just hand over the bottle.

When I count my blessings…I count you twice.

Taken from http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/frbest.htm

Friendship is a single soul
dwelling in two bodies.
Aristotle

Always Worth Another Try

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A family member posted found this story and posted it
on Facebook a few days ago (Thanks Ann).
It touched my heart.

She married him today. At the end of the wedding party, her mother gave her a newly opened bank savings passbook, with $1000 deposited in it. She told her, “My dear daughter, take this passbook. Keep it as a record of your married life. Whenever something happy and memorable happens in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it’s about next to the amount. The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I’ve done the first one for you today. Do the others with your husband. When you look back after years, you will know how much happiness you’ve both shared.’

She shared this with him after getting home. Both of them thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to make the next deposit! This is what the passbook looked like after a while: – 7 Feb: $100, his first birthday celebration after marriage – 1 Mar: $300, she gets a salary raise – 20 Mar: $200, vacation to Bali – 15 Apr: $2000, She’s pregnant! – 1 Jun: $1000, He gets the big promotion and so on… However, as the years went by, they began fighting and arguing over trivial things. They didn’t talk much. They regretted that they had married the most nasty person in the world…There was no more love.

One day she talked to her Mother. ‘Mom, we can’t stand it anymore. We have decided to divorce. I can’t imagine how I decided to marry this guy!’ Her mother replied, ‘Sure, that’s no big deal. Just do whatever you want, if you really can’t stand it. But before that, do one thing. Remember the savings passbook I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn’t keep any record of such a poor marriage.’ She agreed with her. So she went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account. While she was waiting, she took a look at the passbook record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to her. Her eyes were filled with tears. She left and went home.

When she got home, she handed the passbook to him and asked him to spend the money before getting divorced. So the next day, he went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account. While he was waiting, he took a look at the passbook record. He looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to him. His eyes were filled with tears. He left and went home. He gave the passbook back to her. She found a new deposit of $5000. And a line next to the record: ‘This is the day I realized how much I’ve loved you throughout all these years. How much happiness you’ve brought me.’ They hugged and cried, putting the passbook back into the safe.

Whether the story is based on fact or not is meaningless. What matters is its essence. True love can be messed up, lost in chaos and left behind far too easily. I am grateful for the message the story left me with: “love is almost always worth another try”.

We come to love
not by finding a perfect person,
but by learning to see
an imperfect person perfectly.
Sam Keen

A Hasty Word You Can’t Recall

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Once in a while a realization comes of how perception was distorted or incorrect. In the times of anger or hurt, things get said one regrets; things that can’t be taken back. And the humbling part of such behavior is those closest to us suffer.

You always hurt the one you love,
the one you should not hurt at all;
You always take the sweetest rose,
and crush it till the petals fall;
You always break the kindest heart,
with a hasty word you can’t recall;
So if I broke your heart last night,
it’s because I love you most of all.
From an old Mills Brothers song

In situations in which we have nothing of value to lose, we seldom experience disappointment. In love, which involves our happiness and many of our most precious experiences, there is a great deal to lose. Hence, disappointment and frustration, and consequently hurt, are common. It has been said that completely blissful love does not exist. Indeed, in a survey of over 500 lovers, almost all of them assumed that passionate love is a bittersweet experience. Similarly, it has been found that people low in defensiveness have more experiences of love than do highly defensive people. This link suggests that to love is to make oneself vulnerable in ways that enhance the possibility of pain.

Since the beloved is a major source of happiness, this person is also a major threat to our happiness: more than anyone else, the beloved can ruin our happiness. Similarly, the security involved in love goes together with the fear of losing that security. Feeling happy is often bound up with the fear of losing that happiness. Caring for the beloved sometimes goes together with hurting the beloved. From article by Aaron Ben-Zeév, Ph.D., http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-name-love/201010/you-always-hurt-the-one-you-love

Perhaps we should say “I’m sorry.” “I love you.” “You are the only person who really knows me, and who still wants to be my friend even when I am terrible.” “Your love is something that allows the rest of the world and all of its small aggressions to not feel so cold.” Chelsea Fagan

To “not hurt the ones I love” is a lesson I still trying to master and consistently practice. Old abandonment issues from childhood conditioned me to anticipate being hurt. The problem with that is a manifestation of expectation can sometimes actually be the cause of what I fear. I am grateful for the reminder that I have not arrived and never will. Life is a classroom and school is never out.

It’s ironic how we ignore the ones that adore us,
adore the ones that ignore us,
hurt the ones that love us,
and love the ones that hurt us.
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