What is Love?

 

Picture background of pink, white, and red hearts

 

“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.

 

The Triumph in Me Book Review

 

Picture of The Triumph in Me: Living to Die, but Decided to Live book cover

 

The triumph in me: Living to Die, but Decided to Live

 

By: Kashinda T. Marche

 

While at a book-signing event this past weekend, I was given an autographed copy of this book. The author talked a little about the book during the event, and I was intrigued to find out more about it. Because of my visual impairment, the print book wouldn’t have done me any good since I can’t read the words. I did appreciate receiving a signed copy from the author though, so I added it to my library in my home-office for safe-keeping. I didn’t want to wait to have someone read it to me, so I went on Amazon to see if the book was available as an EBook. Yes!!! It was available on Kindle, so I wouldn’t miss out on a great read. I immediately downloaded the book to my Kindle library and began to read.

 

I was drawn into the story just by the first few lines. Tharisse, the main character was a young girl growing up in the urban streets of New Jersey. The story talked about her life growing up and the things she and her friends got into as young teens. Her parents were on drugs, so Tharisse was practically raising herself and her younger siblings. She became promiscuous in her teen years, looking for the acceptance she always yearned for.

 

When Tharisse is fifteen-years-old, she meets Eugene, who is twenty-seven-years-old. He treats Tharisse like she has always wanted to be treated. He buys her the latest fashions, he chauffeurs her and her friends around town in his car, and he even gives her money. To her young mind, this is love. Love is something she has always been trying to find, so to her, Eugene is her knight in shining armor. Her mother has a problem with Tharisse dating Eugene, but she continues to date him anyway. Tharisse falls head-over-heels in love with Eugene, and she doesn’t care who doesn’t like it.

 

At the age of seventeen, Tharisse finds herself pregnant with Eugene’s baby. When Tharisse tells her mother that she is pregnant, she walks away disappointed in her daughter; even though she was the same exact age when she gave birth to Tharisse. Eugene never reacted to the news of Tharisse’s pregnancy either way. Tharisse’s pregnancy was a hard one filled with sickness and misery, but thankfully she delivered a healthy baby girl. Tharisse strived to be the best mother she could be to her daughter. She didn’t want her to grow up in the life that she had, so she did what she had to do to show her daughter a different way of life. When her daughter was just eleven-months old, Tharisse got some devastating news that would change her life forever. She was diagnosed with HIV. Somehow, Eugene had contracted the virus, and he had given it to Tharisse. She wasn’t sure how long she had the virus, but when she went to be tested, she was told that she was infected.

 

Tharisse hoped and prayed that her daughter had not contracted the virus, and by the grace of God, she had not. Tharisse went into a deep depression after finding out the news. She couldn’t figure out how she would raise her daughter when she had been pronounced with a death sentence. The story goes on to describe Tharisse’s life and struggles of dealing with her HIV status. There were plenty of ups and downs as she comes to terms with her illness. Tharisse instills positive skills and inspirations in her daughter as she grows up, trying to guide her in the right direction. She didn’t want her daughter to make the same mistakes, or worse mistakes than she did.

 

Tharisse deals with low self-esteem issues, so she makes her daughter stand in the mirror every day and tell herself that she is beautiful. Tharisse is later diagnosed with mental illnesses as well, and she attempts suicide when her lover exposes her condition to another of her lovers. Tharisse was truthful to some people about her condition, but she kept her status from others as well, so when her lover exposed her, she fell over the deep edge. She didn’t think that life was worth living anymore since she was already dying from HIV. Thankfully, Tharisse was not successful in her suicide attempt, and she got the help that she needed through therapy. She decided to turn her life around in a more positive direction for her daughter. She didn’t want to traumatize her child for the rest of her life, so she started living her life with a purpose instead of living her life recklessly.

 

This was a story that really hit home for me. Having a family member who died from HIV, made this story so real to me. The fact that Tharisse contracted the virus at such a young age, brought tears to my eyes. All she ever wanted was to be loved, and the one man she gave her heart to, gave her a death sentence. She was looking for love and thought she found it, but sadly, she was mistaken. Growing up in a world uninformed and uneducated, caused Tharisse to go down the wrong path in life, searching for the love she never found in herself. What she hadn’t been taught, she tried to teach to her daughter. She wanted her to have a better outlook on life than she did.

 

What I took from this book is, nothing is promised to anyone. In the blink of an eye, your life as you know it can be swept up from under you without any explanation. Good health, life, wealth, love, or anything else isn’t promised to anyone, so you should live your life to the best of your ability. When Tharisse finally decided to change her mind-set, she saw the world through different eyes. She was able to see positivity where she once saw only negativity. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a story of strength and inspiration. It will allow you to take a look at your own life situations and possibly change the way you do things.

 

None of us is perfect, and we all have done things that we are not too proud of, but the only way we can get pass them is if we change. We have to change our thinking, change our attitudes on life, and change the way we react to situations. We can’t wait around for someone to change things for us, we have to be that change we want to see in our life. It was unfortunate what happened to Tharisse, but in the end she changed. She changed for the betterment of her daughter, and she changed for the betterment of herself. She began to live, instead of living to die.

 

 

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