This confession might shock you.
There are three little words that are really hard for me to say… sometimes even get stuck in my throat.
Yes I — the person who writes each week about love, a happy new marriage and being a mom — have a hard time saying, “I love you.”
It’s no big mystery to me why it’s so challenging. I didn’t grow up in an “I love you” kind of house. Don’t get me wrong. I was clear my parents loved me in the way they took care of us kids. We were clothed, fed, and provided every opportunity. You might go so far as to say we were spoiled. I grew up feeling loved and confident.
But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard my mother say, “I love you.” We’ve never talked about why, I’ve always figured she probably didn’t grow up in an “I love you” family either.
A few years ago, I decided this was something I wanted to change. I started with my closest friends because I have some amazing friends and wanted them to know how I felt about them.
“There’s something I want to change,” I said. “Instead of ending phone calls with ‘Talk to you soon,’ I want to say, ‘I love you.’”
They loved the idea encouraging to me break out of my more closed emotional shell.
I tried “I love you” for a few weeks. Honestly, I might as well have taken off all my clothes and danced around the city naked. I felt that exposed and uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, within a few weeks I was back to ending calls with, “Talk to you soon.”
Funny how life has a way of pushing you along.
Turns out I have now married into an “I love you” kind of family. My husband of one year says it all the time. Thank goodness he’s not a scorekeeper on who says it most and he doesn’t need to hear it back every time he says it to me. He has the wisdom to see my love in all that I do, if not all that I say.
Then there is the ultimate “I love you” trainer, my new daughter who I adopted last spring. The way she so naturally says, “Good night! I love you!” Or gets out of the car when I drop her off at school, “Bye! I love you!”
It’s enough to make my heart explode.
It makes me realize that discomfort takes a back seat to what’s important. My kid will hear that I love her.
You can believe I found a way to say those words to one of my best friends the night before her breast cancer surgery last month.
I’m hoping practice makes perfect, that if I say it enough times it’ll start to feel natural.
I love you, my husband.
I love you, my daughter (even if I did say, ‘No, you cannot go to the midnight premiere showing of ‘City of Bones’ movie with your friends on a school night.’)
How about you? Do you know the feeling of feeling love, but loving to say love? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
Talk to you later.
Daryn Kagan’s column published Aug. 1 and headlined “Little worth in putting labels on people” drew a large amount of positive responses from readers. Here is a small sampling:
Sample 1: “You hit the nail on the head that we do not need to be defined but what we ‘do’ but for who we ‘are.’ That occupation line on forms is annoying … and what does it matter anyway?”
Sample 2: “I left a great career in the past year (partner role, only female in that role in the consulting firm … my career for 16 years). I traveled a lot, worked too much, neither of which supported my new role as a 43 yr old mom of a 1 yr old or a new wife. My husband has his own business, which I occasionally help, but it’s not my own.
“I can identify with the ‘occupation’ comments, and the nail salon (so, what exactly are you doing now? question).
“It’s always good to know that other women have been there:-) I admire you!”
Sample 3: “Hi Daryn, I used to be ‘someone’ too! … I think the feeling of being lost is hardest. What to do now? Do I want to go back to the grind? Maybe not, but I’m good at what I did and I don’t feel very useful now. At 55 I still have ‘it’ but I’m smarter now and know what I’d be getting myself into if I go back. And, of course, do they even want me? As retirement looms the clock tics loudly. Are my chances to add to our savings gone.
“It’s my husband and I at home. I guess I’m a homemaker. As a young women I never imagined that I’d become that. So, I hope for acceptance and inspiration as I listen for the dryer to finish so I can fold our laundry.
“Thanks for your article.
“Here’s to the dots that come in our future.”