Earning Love

compassion & care


I have a seventh-grade memory that has always stuck with me, and the story of it came back into my life this week. In the memory, someone accidentally dropped a beaker on the ground, shattering it. Immediately I got on the floor and began picking up the pieces with my bare hands. What I remember thinking is, If I do this, and there’s a possibility that I can hurt myself — because I’m not wearing gloves, and because no one asked me to — I can be loved.

Talking with L. last week, she asked, “What is it that you want?”

And I said, right away, “To be loved and appreciated.”

The unspoken part of it, she said, was: “…and I have to work for it.”

Which I have always felt to be true.

 

I don’t know what it would look like if I didn’t feel like I had to constantly work to be loved. To make superficial gestures that I hoped would be enough. After The Very Bad Ex assaulted me, I would go to school, go to my job at the bookstore in the afternoon, and then buy something to bring to his house afterward. I remember buying him an Oingo Boingo videotape once — as if that would fix everything. At some point, even he got sick of it. “Stop buying me stuff,” he’d say, disgusted, because it was pathetic, and he thought I was pathetic, too.

So much of it, I’m learning, is about trust. To trust in the security of heart-sustaining friendships. To let go of, or to make active steps towards change in, the friendships that don’t fulfill me, and to trust that I’m doing something that I want.

 

What do you think about L-O-V-E? Do you feel as though you deserve it (what a heavy word), just because you’re alive? Do you bend over backwards to ensure you’ll curry favor? Is the fulfilling, sustaining work to keep relationships flourishing the same as picking up broken glass to prove you’re into self-sacrifice?

 

And, because I feel like it, here are a few bits and bobs about my life right now. Chris and I made ceviche today, and are currently eating it with thick, crispy tortilla chips. I have a new ovarian cyst, which has started out at the same size as the one I had last time; this is four months after I had surgery for the last one. The weather in San Francisco presently is simply glorious — warm and sunny, with a slight breeze. Hatching plots with one super-cool lady.

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