Your feelings have such a high value to those who love you that they are on the lookout for them. They even look for the feelings you are afraid to know and gently inquire whether you want to show them.
–David Richo, How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
(via Things I’ve Learned from being Open)
I can speak to this firsthand with reference to the man who loves me and it is the greatest thing. JJ is gentle with me, and patient, and he encourages my emotional messiness. He takes such good care of me, even when I am ugly crying on his futon over something small, and I struggle to put into words the depth of my appreciation for this.
I must listen to truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live—but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life…the quest for “wholeness” is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.
What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been! How often in the process we mask ourselves in faces that are not our own. How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity — the true self within every human being that is the seed of [authenticity]…does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be.
—Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
I am realizing I am enough as I am and. I can work on self-improvement but improvement is not a condition of affection. I am clear on the value of what I have to offer. Or, at least, I am trying to believe in my heart what I know in my head about who I am and what I deserve.
–Roxane Gay, “All I Need to Do is Breathe, Be Bold, Stand Tall” | Roxane Gay is Spelled with One ‘N’
E-mail letters are a thing I send boo with what I’d call sporadic regularity. I never let him know they’re coming, even when I’ve been working on getting the wording exactly right for days. They are always emotional and some might call them dramatic, but he has told me he greatly appreciates me laying everything out and I’ve always preferred writing them down to other methods of figuring out my feelings, so I keep convincing myself to hit “Send.” We each value words as gifts.
I had not been planning to write boo a letter last night. I was laying in my bed, thinking about him and about the wonderful weekend we’ve had thus far and how I was excited to see him again today. I was trying to conjure the feeling I’d had yesterday morning when we were laying in his bed and I was telling him that being in his arms with my head tucked under his chin so his beard presses into my face is my favorite place to be. I wanted to name that feeling, or at least give it some context, especially in light of the fact that today happens to be a year from the day we first said “I love you” to one another. So much has happened in that year to give those words texture, and I wanted to acknowledge that. So I clicked compose in Gmail and I started writing.
I will spare you the sappiness of the whole thing and just share my favorite part. It’s my favorite for two reasons: a) because I think it accurately captures how I feel about where I was when I was ready to say those words for the first time last year and where I am when I say them multiple times a day now, and b) because I had just finished writing them and was figuring out what to say next when he gchatted me to say he loves me and I was so deep in my feelings already that I started to cry.
An iceberg is a colder and more tired metaphor than I’d like to use right now, but it’s what comes to mind when I think about what loving you meant to me a year ago and what it means now. Those words and the feelings behind them were massive, but that was only what I could see from the surface. I hadn’t really dived in yet, hadn’t seen it filling places in me I’d never had reason to explore. There are canyons and trenches and shimmering ice palaces in here. Though unexpected, there is a warmth unlike any I have ever known, and I can think of no place that feels homier.