I’ve certainly navigated my share of grief and trauma, and been on the receiving end of care, concern and support. Yet when it comes to holding that same empathetic space of witnessing for people close to me, I still struggle with it.
I know intellectually that there’s no one “right” thing to say or do. I know that simply continuing to show up is enough. I know that sometimes there just aren’t any words. I know all of that in a very personal way. And still, I find myself debating about if, when or whether to send a text simply expressing love.
Because my perception is one of “how could that possibly be enough?” I love you. It just seems so inadequate to express the depth of love I feel for those I consider chosen family.
The reality of life is that it’s messy, complicated, and at times breathtakingly brutal and beautiful. At the same time. Witnessing those I love experience and navigate challenges isn’t easy. It’s emotional, painful and brings moments of “how the actual fuck is this happening right now?” As though my mental arguing will change any of it.
Continuing to reach out by simply communicating love feels like nowhere near enough. But what if it really is that simple sometimes. What if those three words really do carry weight not evident in their appearance, at least when said intentionally and from the heart.
Someone that I love beyond words, that without question has been chosen family for the better part of a decade, is walking a journey I don’t have even a remotely visible frame of reference for. I wish I could make it go away and turn it into a bad dream. But I can’t.
What I can do is continue to show up and communicate. And many times, all I can think to say is “I love you.'” Because I do. With a level of intensity and fierceness I cannot explain, but that I know she understands. Over the years, we’ve certainly exchanged those words and both understood what was beneath them more times than I could count.
Maybe it’s ok to sometimes not have an explanation and to keep it simple. Maybe there’s depth and power in allowing it to simply be those three words. Maybe the intent, meaning, depth of the relationship communicates most powerfully through those simple words.
I don’t know. Hell, I’ve written “fuck” as a complete and stand-alone sentence before. Perhaps I love you and its potential impact aren’t about the words at all. I do know that when it comes to those closest to me, I’d rather have shown up and continued to let them know I care, even when that feels woefully inadequate based on words alone.
This morning I finished reading There Is No Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful and Unfair to People You Love. Indeed, it should be required reading for all humans.
And maybe I could lean into trusting myself even more, while embracing my innate kindness as a friend, without worrying about having the “right” words all of the time.
Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The Perceived Inadequacy of “I Love You””
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