Acts of Love

It's Valentine's Day. I'm single, so, not a whole lot will be happening around here, aside from potentially over-indulging in chocolates and heart-shaped jujubes (if I can be bothered to leave the house to get them) while watching many hours of Buffy & Angel* with one of my kids. We're watching the episodes in chronological order, which generally means they alternate between shows. It's fun - you should try it.

The truth is, I've never had much use for Valentine's Day. I've had two long term relationships in my life (the use of the past tense there should give you a hint about their success), and even when I was in a relationship, Valentine's Day was very rarely special. If we acknowledged the day it was because I planned it myself or I dropped excessive hints so my partner grudgingly bought flowers or something. So I always figured that Valentine's Day was meant for other people. You know, people who were actually in love. Like the people in Hallmark movies.

Yes, I am aware that the people in Hallmark movies are actors and nobody's life is actually like that.

Here's the thing though. While I wrote the day off as some kind of commercial nonsense, I actually wanted somebody to acknowledge it. To acknowledge me. As though somehow, a person bringing me flowers or chocolates, or planning some sort of special evening without me prompting them to would be evidence that I mattered. This would be proof that I was loved.

It's painful for me to admit that. Embarrassing really.

The other day I wrote about how the only person you can change is yourself ... and that's enough. I very deeply believe this. And it's made me consider the nature of self love.

Everywhere you look, you'll see all kinds of things about how you have to love yourself. Self love is the most important thing. If you don't love yourself, who else will? You are worth it. You are deserving. Love yourself!!!

The problem with the love yourself sentiment is that while it's true, it's not all that helpful. It's completely absent of a very important detail -- how? How do I love myself? It's the same problem I have when people say "choose to be happy" -- umm, sure, but presumably if someone is unhappy and wants to be happy they don't know how to choose it, right? Or "don't be sad." But if you're sad and someone tells you not to be sad, now you're sad and ashamed for being sad.

Repeating words you don't believe is not a recipe for self love. The trees make me happy though.

 

We cannot make ourselves feel something, or stop feeling something simply through force of will. It doesn't matter how many times we say "I love myself" -- if we don't believe what we're saying, we're just lying to ourselves. That's not an act of love.

To truly love ourselves, we have to act like we love ourselves. We have to do things that show that we love ourselves. If your partner constantly tells you "I love you," and ignores you, breaks commitments with you, doesn't listen to you -- do you believe that they really love you?

To really love yourself, you have to treat yourself they way you treat someone else when you're in love. You have to be the person you want to fall in love with. You need to acknowledge your imperfections, your darkness, the things you wish were different, and love yourself anyway, and eventually, maybe even love those things too. You probably already do this every day -- for someone else. If you have a partner, or children, or a best friend, I bet you can provide a list of their flaws and the things that just drive you crazy about them. And you love them.

Have you ever loved someone enough that you've done something just to make them happy? Maybe you didn't want to do it, but you did, because you knew they would be happy. I'm sure you have right?

Now ask yourself this: what do you wish someone who loved you would do, just because it would make you happy?

Then go do that thing.

For me, I think that thing will be hauling my ass out of the house to go get heart shaped jujubes to eat while watching Buffy and Angel with my kid on Valentine's Day.

 

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* It has come to my attention that Joss Whedon is apparently an ass. I am deeply saddened by this; I have enjoyed many of his shows. I considered stopping the re-watching of Buffy and Angel, but decided that he was only one part of those shows, and I will continue the re-watching in support of the cast and crew that brought those shows to life.

 

 

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