I’m an affectionate person and I need to show that. One way is to say ‘I love you’ and although those three words are not enough I do say them rather a lot; so Mat suggested I not tell him I love him for twenty four hours. Unable to resist a challenge I agree to the experiment.
Immediately my chest burns, this hurts, I feel rejected. He doesn’t want me to say I love him therefore he doesn’t want my love. A couple of deep breaths and I tell myself that it’s simply that he knows I love him, that he doesn’t need me to say it. Still I don’t feel comfortable with this. I wonder how I’ll get through the day.
Less than an hour later and I realise the solution is to keep a record of how I feel, make a blog post of it in fact.
Bedtime brings an emotionally charged conversation. I go up to bed unable to prevent an “I love…” before I go. I cut it off but it is said. In my distress I understand why I needed to say it. To someone I love so dearly, when I am hurting, such an “I love you” is a plea for that love to be returned. A plea I cannot help but expect to go unanswered. And the more hopeless it feels the more I offer my love hoping it will win me affection, security and approval.
The morning routine felt odd and disjointed. I wanted to put it back on track but those three words, so much part of how I say goodbye to both Mat and Perrin, were forbidden. Still they slipped out once, unbidden, unwanted but suprised by them I could not give them the depth they deserved.
What a relief, in contrast, to say goodbye to Perrin, able to tell him freely how I felt. The words releasing me into a heartfelt hug and relaxed happiness.
Later on I sent Mat a loving text carefully worded to avoid that phrase. That was easy, I think maybe I can do this after all.
At lunchtime I made a deliberate decision to call him. Again it felt very odd signing off without saying ‘I love you’ but easier perhaps because I knew he knew that I was trying not to.
Coming home that evening and there was lots to do, lots to keep me busy and only a couple of moments when I would have liked to say those words. At least then the end was in sight.
When the twenty four hours was up I chose my moment and launched into a volley of ‘I love you’s with the delight of knowing the experiment was over.
Still it felt different. I had learnt that nothing bad happens if I don’t say it for a while. I realised that I enjoy saying it from choice but the defensive instances are actually unfulfilling.
I think I’m going to continue to try and say ‘I love you’ less. Unless of course I’m hurting my boy when I will tell him in all the ways he needs to hear.