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Thinking back to my twenties, I remember I said the words “I love you” very soon in my relationships with men. The “love feelings” would overwhelm me: the closeness, the intimacy, the peace of feeling cared for and apart from the rest of the world. The warmth and power of these feelings would fill my chest, sometimes to the point I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t fight them; I didn’t want to. And I allowed them to stretch up to my vocal chords and have voice. All that really mattered was that I felt them, that love had found me. Everything else – the how and if and why of our relationship – was in some ways, just a detail.
Fast forward to now – three kids, infidelities and a divorce later. And I reflect on my past ability to say it, from both a position of discernment – and envy.
There’s no denying the naivity I had around love back then. A part of me has even judged my views as foolish, immature, even stupid. I think I was in love with the feeling of love. It blinded me to red flags and set my heart up for disaster.
At the same time, I am envious of my former self. For regardless of her naivity, she had a wide open heart. She was ready to risk it all, and love hard and fast and with complete abandon. She didn’t “assess” love and relationships with a pros/cons list. She didn’t have a myriad of serious variables to consider in the mix, like her children. She didn’t feel fear or hold back or phathom the price-tag of the hard work and potential pain that might arise with the relationship over time. She just leaped…believed…and fell.
So now I contemplate what would it take for me to say the words “I love you” again one day. For I know I won’t say them quickly, even if I feel feelings of love – to me, the two aren’t the same. No…when I say the words ”I love you” it will mean so much more – that I can really see our lives being integrated and intertwined; that I’m 100% committed to him and making his happiness as important as that of my own and my children’s – and vice verse; and most importantly, that I’m ready, willing and able to be in that relationship with a wide open heart. The former Delaine, as naive as she was, was brave to do that.
I want that again.
Do you think YOU would say the words “I love you” quickly or easily again? Has the meaning changed? What would you do if your partner said it, and you were somewhat unsure…?