I don’t think James and I were even engaged the first time his father hit me.
No, no, no, no, no, no, NO. Not like THAT. It was a swat. A slap of my knuckles, or something. I had said something snarky. (I know. You’re glad you were sitting for that one.) He swatted my hand. “Yes! I’m IN,” I thought. A few months later, my father did the same to James. It was as though he had given us his blessing.
It’s a little ridiculous, right? The things we do—the ways we show people we care?
A friend called last week. I wasn’t feeling well.
“Go to the doctor.”
“No?! Why can’t you be NORMAL? If you’re sick, go to the doctor!”
“Well, now, THAT’S not nice,” I thought. Immediately followed by, “He LOVES me.” Naturally. Because only if he loved me would he berate me so.
My girlfriend and I say attention equals love. That may be a bit of a stretch. But attention CERTAINLY equals attention…or the implication that you somehow matter to the person with whom you’re interacting. I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the past year as to how I’m showing the people in my life that I value them. I consider how I “know” I matter.
I ran into an old friend, recently. Actually, we see each other quite frequently, but some time had passed since we were last together. “Hi! How are you? It’s good to see you.” He turned towards me. I couldn’t get over the fact that not only did he think it was good to see ME but that as he spoke, he turned to face me. Whatever he was about to do (retrieve his sons’ books or dole out snacks, perhaps) was not as important as giving his attention to me, in that moment.
I could go on but I think really my point is just to encourage you to think: how do you tell someone you care? Do you call them by their name when you speak to them, or use a diminutive reserved just for you? Do you turn off the television or ignore your cell phone? Or do you pick on them, make fun of them…hit them? OK, in retrospect, those might not be the *best* ways to show someone you care. Maybe make more of an effort going forward?
The woman who sits next to me in synagogue is wheelchair-bound. She suffered a stroke more than a year ago. Speaking is a challenge for her. Communication is not. Lost in thought (or prayer?), I was picking at my nails. My husband grabs my hand when I do that. I had a college boyfriend threaten never to speak to me again. My father once “reminded” me that our religion frowns upon self-mutilation. Mrs. B. saw me torturing the skin around my fingernails and slid her hand off of her prayer book. She covered my hand with her own and stroked it gently with her thumb.
“Now THAT’S love,” I thought.