When I was growing up, my grandmother taught me a valuable lesson that I sometimes forget. “Never be the one to let go of a hug first.” So you can imagine a hug from my grandmother took a really really long time. Not letting go of a hug, to her, was affectionately saying something she also loved—it was saying “…too”. A hug was saying, “I love you” and not letting go was saying, “I love you too”. I used to find a competitive fault with my grandmother’s way. “Why do ‘I’ always have to be the one to say ‘too’? Why can’t I hear it?” Or, “I always say, ‘I love you’ first. I want to say ‘too’ for a change.” It was a never ending battle and one I’m glad I lost time and time again. There was no out loving my grandmother.
I find myself, when reaching out with an intimate statement to those around me, with an “I miss you” or “Have a great day” or “I don’t know” or “I’m scared” or “I need you”…or, “I love you”, wanting to hear that back followed by that resounding “too”. I don’t look for magical words or an emotional one up, I simply want that someone to mirror back my moment…myself. I want to know that in that slight, or not so slight moment, that I’m not alone. That exposing myself will, in turn, be met with exposure. Things are not always safe and I accept that and welcome all those real and capacity growing experiences, but I also love the safety of the shared. The knowing that my emotions are empathized with and, while may not be exactly understood, are joined and accepted.
As an adult and outside of those small precious moments, I can internally debate all of those possible issues of insecurities, need for controlling outcomes, etc. But, in that moment, in that smallest and potentially overlooked moment, the small boy in me simply wants someone with my grandmother’s way. Someone who wants to out love me.