Valentine’s Day is approaching. So in group yesterday, we wrote about love. In the end, many found this to be a challenging topic to write about. It pushed everyone to think about what love is and how it has been expressed in their lives. This led to some difficult memories and realizations.
When Valentine’s Day comes, love is seen as flowers and chocolate. It is hearts and smiles and it all looks so easy. The advertised Valentine’s Day is like fairy tales. They seem so wonderful and pleasant in the moment, but what happens the next day? What happens after the prince kisses sleeping beauty? Do they really live happily ever after? They do because we don’t hear any more of the story. For real people when the cards are put away and the flowers are wilted and the chocolate is gone, life still goes on. In day to day life, love can get challenged every minute of the day.
In the group, people wrote about times that love had been used as a reason to hurt them. For example if a criticism was offered, it was paired with—I’m telling you this because I love you. If that happens all the time, the feeling is—you can hurt me because you love me. Others talked of families and family members who have their own emotional issues. Within the group we discussed how sometimes we have to grieve an ideal and accept the family that we have. None of us are going to have TV perfect families—they don’t exist. And many of us may have more family struggles than others. We need to, at times, learn to find love and support from other people in our lives. Ones who are able to offer love freely.
Within the group, we talked about qualities of love. Many people shared some of the same beliefs: Love is commitment, honesty, compromise, patience, communication, appreciation, trust, support, listening, respect, acceptance.
- What is your definition of love? You can use our list. What aspects do you agree with? What other qualities would you add? You can send them to me in the comment section and we’ll start the conversation going. It is important to think about what love is or should be. Notice, love was not hurting and criticism. Sometimes we may need to offer feedback to others, but we need to remember acceptance and patience and respect.
- How has love been expressed in your life? What has made you feel loved? What has left you feeling hurt?
- Have conditions been put on love in the past? I’ll love you if….Write about the baggage and expectations you are carrying around in order to feel loved. If you think you have to please everyone all of the time to be loved, then you will never feel worthy of love. We can’t please everyone all of the time.
- Take a fairy tale and write about the next day. Try to look at how we move from story into real life. How would those characters get through a disagreement? Have the fairy godmother come down and turn the prince into a frog? Or is there a way that they can use their voices to work things out? Practice the conversations on paper—what are people in your life telling you? If it is not supportive, then put the words in your characters mouth and try out different responses. Learn to set limits and demand the respect that you deserve.
- Write about how you express love. Is there someone you haven’t told that you love? Can you send them a short note?
- What things do you love about yourself? Make a list. If you struggle then think about if you were your best friend. What things would you love about him/her? Work to appreciate your own unique specialness.
Go on now, Write On! (And Happy Valentine’s Day.)
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD