I'm not sure how anyone else uses the word love and feel it has been somewhat abused or at least misunderstood. If I say 'I love you' that means that I won't betray or knowingly harm you. It means that I care about and am generally interested in your life and want to know your currency (whatever matters most to you). My role is not one of judge or jury in our relationship- more of a cheerleader.
It means I like you AND your pretty freak flag and am happy to help you carry it. I may see something or nothing of myself in you, and that doesn't matter because we are connected for reasons we cannot know. Things are not always as they first or otherwise appear, so my mind remains open to possibility along with inevitable changes.
I live on The Island of Misfit Toys, but am no misfit...nor are you. Our little island bumping against everyone else's island is about accepting and embracing our perceived flaws or faults and imperfections. Your laughter and your impressions of situations help me to grow, and I dare admit that I might need you in my life. If that is too much or too vulnerable, so be it. I am not afraid- we're all going to die and have no time to let fear own us.
It also means I see the best in you. Maybe the worst too. Please come as you are, I like you best that way. Let it rip, brothers and sisters! Oh how I marvel and applaud you and hope to be more like you in many ways. We take turns as teacher and student. When you shine, I sit right up front and crush on you, like an elementary school child enamored by a teacher as her hands move gracefully over the chalkboard.
Look at you go! GO you!
It also means that I would stick up for you if you weren't around to defend yourself, and I'll not spread gossip or share your secrets because you deserve at least that respect. Admittedly, I want that back and don't get it often enough. Yet, there are only a few people on Earth that I no longer speak to and they worked hard to earn my rare and permanent silence.
I'd stand by you to hold space if I am able, and use whatever active listening skills I may have in any moment to hear and see you. Your secrets are either forgotten or in a vault that I do not open for anyone else.
If I feel hurt by something you may have done I intend to clear up at least my side and go forward. I'm not terribly complicated, and you have my word that I will come to you _first_ without involving anyone or anything else. I'm not particularly skillful, but you can expect straightforward and honest dialogue. May we all know redemption and forgiveness, whatever that may mean for each of us. Letting the trivial stuff go is always a good idea.
I get impossibly busy and distracted by my own mess and deep darks that I don't usually share or talk about, though my writing may suggest otherwise.
Know that I am sensitive to your feelings if you choose to share them and am hyper-perceptive about these complexities in person, but not online. I can't "see" you as you really are if we are only connected through our little glowing screens. There is too much noise and editing and assumption preventing us from really hearing each other in that scene. I prefer to be with one on one kind of people and feel a little off in the cacophony of a larger group.
If ever I do something that hurts you, I ask that you be brave enough to talk with me directly. Telephone has always been my numero uno least favorite game, with musical chairs coming in a close second. Gossips and scarcity complexes are both yucky.
I'm learning and suffering as I move through life too, but my compassion is intact. I see your pain and disillusionment, but also get to witness your joy and awe inspiring perseverance. Betrayal is a tough one for me, but I recognize it emerges from suffering and disconnection. Let's tear out the roots!
This body I was given to tool around in this lifetime has definitely betrayed me, but I love it anyway. I am doing the work to forgive people those who have laid a Judas Kiss upon my cheek and love them anyway. We all take turns being absolute idiots and doing stupid things. I have played both sides.
A wise friend wrote that, "Parkinson's changes people," and I cannot disagree. Another friend referred to it as a "a mental illness", and again I don't disagree. I am aware that my brain is not functioning as before and am deeply intimate with all the ways chronic (relentless) pain prevents consistency and ease. Agony is my constant companion since this diagnosis, and I've had to allow it because there is no other choice. I let loved ones down almost every day... at least the ones who expect a strict machine. If there was a laugh track, it would be inserted here.
I have neglected to send this gigantic pile of thank you cards on my desk, but your kindness has not been taken for granted and is a constant source of strength. Every time I want to give up, it is the kindness and love from infinite sources that keeps me alive, and thriving.
There is a scene in a movie called The Curious Life of Benjamin Button that makes my tender heart pop and sizzle. An old woman holds her lover as an infant. He has been aging in reverse and is innocent and entirely vulnerable in her arms. This is what we must do for one another.
From my own impossibly human, flawed, and humble perspective, I come to you in peace.
I love you.
(The header image is from The WPC in Portland Oregon. Honored to call Shel and Sara my friends. I'm lucky like that! These notes are part of an ongoing series, and at least one part will be featured in The Davis Phinney Blog.)