When I was little, on Valentine’s Day my mom would make us heart shaped pancakes in the morning. After school, she greeted us with a big hug and a special heart covered glass filled with heart-shaped ice cubes made out of Hawaiian Punch.
That was the best. I remember just feeling so loved and excited.
I also loved writing out Valentine’s for all of my classmates and receiving them all in a big fat envelope (with candy and desserts).
Today stands for those that I love and is not just reserved for my partner or spouse.
And you are someone I love.
So, today I’m writing to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day – and to tell you that I love you because you exist.
Often when we say ‘I love you’ it’s followed by a reason such as because you’re a good friend, or because you make me laugh.
We feel the need to provide a reason, and those reasons feel really good to hear.
The thing is – eventually we get stuck thinking we always have to give people a reason to love us.
This is not necessarily conscious of course, but you know me – I’m always talking about the stuff that takes things a little deeper. Diving below the surface.
When we were little, we were loved and appreciated for qualities that we naturally exuded.
And because it’s natural to want to be loved and appreciated, the subconscious stores away these experiences as simple statements like “I am good and will be loved if I am ____ (funny, strong, talkative, giving, nurturing, etc…)”
After being acknowledged for this quality over and over again, it becomes a piece of our identity and without even knowing it we get stuck in this role for life.
And, after a while this role can start to feel like a burden. It feels like if you’re not this one thing that everyone expects all the time – people won’t love you.
For example, when I was a young child, I was really good at consoling my parents when they’d get into an argument. It came naturally. Both my parents would acknowledge me for my words, my love and my care and so that stuck – it felt really good.
At that point I decided that I was going to be the strong one and that I needed to be there for my parents and my brother. The problem was that every time they argued – and I mean every time – I would involve myself. Soon enough I started resenting my parents for the role I had decided to take on as a child.
I felt stuck, even alone, and my belief that “I need to be the strong one” was affecting every relationship in my life. My friendships, work relationships, and siblings.
I didn’t even know it.
As much as I thought I was open to receiving support from others, I would find it difficult to allow my friends, parents and brother to give support back to me.
When I desperately needed their support, I couldn’t ask for it (nor receive it) because that would mean I wasn’t showing up as the strong one. I was internally fighting with myself. I didn’t always want to be strong and yet I was forcing myself to show up that way because I thought that’s how I would be loved.
I literally thought if I couldn’t be strong for them – then why would they love me?
It isn’t logical, but that’s what I felt like.
One day after realizing how the role of being the strong one was actually blocking me from love and connection, I called up my Mom and Dad and asked them…
“If I wasn’t the strong one, if I wasn’t the person that you could rely on, or that person that gave back to you, would you still love me? Would you still love me just because I existed?”
I cried the entire way through saying this, and I was met with a little laughter (they were surprised by my reaction) and received a full on YES!
Yes, they love me just because I exist.
That YES made such a difference. The burden fell away, and I was free to be more than just the strong one all the time.
I could be the emotional one, the one that needs support too, the one that doesn’t have it all together. The one that is messy. The one that is disorganized. The one that drops stuff all the time. The one that can be oblivious at times.
Suddenly I felt loved for everything I am, not just a part of who I am.
I want you to know, from my heart to yours, you are loved because you EXIST.
You were born from love, you are pure love, and no matter how hard you try you can’t not be love.
I also want you to know that this world wouldn’t feel complete without your presence in it!
Your Lovework is:
Celebrate today. Celebrate your presence and celebrate the presence of others in your life. You wouldn’t be who you are today without all of that – the good, bad, and the ugly. 🙂
Part 2 (for those of you who want to take it deeper):
Reflect on how you felt loved when you were younger. Did you then translate that love to become a role you feel you have to play in relationships?
Is this role still serving you? Is it creating connection or disconnection for you?
Then if you’re really bold, ask your parents or a sibling if they would love you just because you exist. Hearing it makes a difference. Trust me, it can seem obvious but when you hear it – something shifts inside of you.
I’d love to hear all about it – leave your comments below!