“Love is a verb that requires action to have true meaning. Without action, it is just another noun.” – Blaque Diamond
This article is dedicated to the two people I love most in the world. The two people who helped me discover what love feels like.
Samantha Cunningham Jones
Quinton Terrell Jones
I decided to make this topic my writing prompt for today. Love. Such a small word, but it has such a big meaning. Love represents different things for different people, so what you think is love, and what I think is love, may be totally different. Neither one of us is wrong, we just see love differently. What is love? What does love mean to you? How do you know how to love? These are questions that I have been asked by several people in my life. Just recently, while walking with my walking partner during our break at work, he asked me,
“What is love to you? How do you know how to love?”
We have very deep conversations while we strive to get in our daily exercise. I love stimulating conversations, and I especially like conversations that make me think. Although, I didn’t have to think too hard about this subject. Love is something that has always interested me. There is being in love, and there is having love. Most people throw around the word love just like any other word because they don’t know that there is a difference in the way you use the word. You can have love for someone without being in love with them. When I use this way of speaking of love, I’m referring to relationships, friendships, family etc. Yes, I can love your new coat, or love to read, but that kind of love isn’t in the same context I am relating this article in. That type is more of a strong like for something.
I was also asked the same question while doing a podcast interview back in August of this year. Ms. Blue asked me,
“How can you love if you’ve never experienced love before?”
My response to her and my co-worker was the same.
“Love to me is natural. It isn’t something that I had to learn to do. I love because my heart allows me to. If you have to learn how to love someone, then you don’t know what love truly is. Love comes from the heart. It is a natural reaction. No amount of teaching can teach a person to love if it’s not in them to do so.”
To most people that may be confusing, but to me it’s clear as day. Growing up, I never heard the words “I love you” from my parents. I don’t think the word love was ever even mentioned in our household. There were no signs of love at home either. There weren’t any hugs or kisses, displays of affection, or words of endearment. So, as you can see, I never experienced love from my parents while I was growing up. At home is where love should first begin, but that wasn’t the case for me. I grew up in a loveless household. If love lived there, then it was well-hidden from my reach, or maybe it wasn’t meant for me to receive love there. So, I was thrust out into the world without ever once knowing what it felt like to be loved by someone.
As I journeyed into adulthood, I got into relationships looking for the love that I never received at home. All I ever wanted was someone to love me. One bad relationship after another left me still wondering what love was. What was so wrong with me that I wasn’t good enough for someone to love? Yes, guys told me that they loved me, but based on their actions, the love wasn’t genuine. To them, love meant me being pushed into a wall, or their hands wrapped around my neck if I didn’t do what they wanted me to do when they said do it. That was their version of love. Being a young girl out in the world by herself, I started to believe that maybe that was what love really was. My parents were supposed to love me, and all they did was abuse and neglect me. So, a man saying that he loved me right before he smacked me across the face seemed natural. It was all I had ever known. Love for me meant pain.
When I finally took a hiatus from dating and took time to delve into myself, I found my answer to what love was. Despite the hurt and pain that others had put me through, I still loved them. Even though I tried to tell myself that I didn’t, deep inside I knew I loved them. I couldn’t explain how I could love people who did nothing but hurt me. I tried for a while to define my feelings and pick a part my reasoning’s. But I was always brought back to the same statement.
“Love to me is natural. It isn’t something that I had to learn to do. I love because my heart allows me to.”
The lesson that I had to learn while searching for love was to learn to love myself. Even though I had never experienced love and didn’t know what being loved felt like, I knew that before I could truly love someone else, I had to love myself first. How can you expect someone to love you when you can’t love yourself? That was a question that I repeated to myself over and over again over the years. One day I sat down at my computer and opened a brand-new word document. At first, I had no idea what I should write, so I just sat there for a while. Finally, the thought came to me. I wrote this exact question.
What do I love about me?
Once I wrote that question, I began writing all the things down that I loved about myself. The more I actually thought about it, the more things flowed from my mind to the computer screen. Once I had listed all the things that I loved about myself, I sat back and went through the list. I was surprised at how much I loved about myself. Things that I hadn’t even thought of reflected how I felt about myself in my words. I couldn’t believe that there was so much about me that I could love. It didn’t matter to me anymore that I had never been loved by someone else. I had enough love for myself to suffice. Of course, I knew God loved me, but to know that I had so much good about myself that I could love actually brought tears to my eyes.
I worked on me over the years building up my self-esteem and my self-confidence in myself. Never being told anything good about myself had me thinking that there wasn’t anything good about me, but after making my list and frequently going back to look it over, I knew that I was worthy of love. While I was on that journey to self-love, I met some wonderful people who showed me what being loved felt like. For the first time in my life at the age of twenty-one, I knew what it felt like to be loved. Even though I was in a relationship at the time that was loveless, I had two people in my life that I knew for sure loved me without a doubt. There love had no limitations, and there were no boundaries that their love wouldn’t cross for me. I am eternally grateful to them for being the first people to show me true and unconditional love. Because of them and my own self-awareness, I now know what love is. I know how it feels to be loved, because I love myself, and they love me also.
What is love to you? Leave me your comments below. I would love to hear from you on the topic of love.