When explaining the depth of my affection for my loved ones and friends, I’ve often said: “I’d fight tigers for [insert name].”
Let it never be said that I love quietly or simply.
I love most, if not all, I’ve encountered, and do what I can to make sure they know it. I try not to let time or place hinder me. However, as of late, I’ve realized that I may be alone in that pursuit.
I’m not someone people think of first and frequently. Often last in line, or, more truthfully, not even counted in the line.
I’m easy to forget about.
I’ve spent a lot of time feeling the sting of “last place,” and tried to grow from it each time, but still never reached a greater height. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I still make the phone calls, text with humorous emojis or gifs, find and send cards, try to surprise others, because I don’t think that giving love ever makes your heart grow smaller. No, it makes your heart expand.
Unfortunately, it often comes at a cost. For me, recently, it’s been the price of my self-worth.
I’ve been told that I’m a people pleaser, always trying to make everyone like me, but if anyone really understood me, they’d find that I just want to make people happy; sometimes, this can be in place of my own happiness, but not just to get some cheap thrill out of it—not even because I’m seeking a thank you. Not looking for bragging rights.
Because I see hurt and I want to help ease it.
Because I want to bring a smile on someone’s darkest days, or even on someone’s mundane days.
Because I want others to feel joy in life and not live it in the doldrums.
Because I invest my time in my friendships, relationships, partnerships—learning about others, their interests, quirks, strengths, then try to support them for it, even if they differ from my own.
Because I love loudly and longest.
Even when I’ve been stepped on.
Even if nobody replies back.
Even if I admit that my time and efforts feel wasted.
Even after my intelligence has been devalued or my emotions diminished.
I still love.
That’s because I’ve always firmly believed that love is a gift, not an obligation.
“Love is always bestowed as a gift—freely, willingly, and without expectation. We do not love to be loved; we love to love.”-Leo Buscaglia-
My grandmother taught me that. She always gives loves to others, helps those less fortunate, and goes out of her way to put a smile on their face. I believe she’s one of God’s saints in disguise, because I see her soul. She’s 95 and loves each day in the service of others. Her love language is the same as mine: quality time and acts of devotion.
She told me once that I was, and should be, a Pollyanna, and it just stuck—bring joy to others. I like playing the glad game, but I often play it alone.
One of the phrases I’ve always loathed is “If I didn’t _______, I wouldn’t have _____…” I always refute it by saying, “If you really ____, you wouldn’t have to say that.”
Recently, I quarreled with someone I dearly love, someone I’ve respected for decades, and at the end of it, I realized that I was entirely mistaken in their regard for me. I was suddenly disenchanted, recognizing that I’d built up our bond to some fantasy that was far more rose-colored than our reality. Yes, they care for me, but not in the same way, or to the same depths.
I was told I was being dramatic, but what they saw as drama, I saw as passion. Fervent belief in my worth as a person, a woman, a friend. And, the value of my life in theirs.
I bawled my eyes out. At 40 years old, I wept with abandon like a teenage girl who was amid her first major heartbreak. The sad thing is, I’d already gone through that, but it still struck me like a bolt of lightning. I felt like a fool. Hoodwinked.
Is it because I live in a dream world, believing that people do care for me and see me for who I truly am? That my purpose and intentions are plain to see?
No. It was because I live in reality, and it was trying to show me how little I’m regarded in the eyes of those for whom I place in the utmost importance.
Fool me twice, right?
There’s a book of Revelations in everyone’s life, it seems.
At bed, after experiencing this revelation, I admitted to myself, and to my husband, who—bless him—was listening to my monologue (and anguish), how I don’t truly have long lasting friendships. They’re seasonal, cyclical, circumstantial, and transitory. I try to facilitate brief communication interludes AND more substantial adventures, but both fail because I spend more time trying to please them (which is not a success) and forget about myself.
I laid them all out in my hands (metaphorically, of course), all of those in the decades I’ve been roaming this Earth, and came to one conclusion:
I’m hard to remember.
Easy to forget.
Still standing in last place.
What I now have to decide is:
What am I worth?
To them, not much.
To myself, more.
I may just have to stand alone.
Maybe I’m enough.