While talking about the 5 Love Languages with my partner, he mentioned how he thinks “words of affirmation” is one of his love languages. He described how he was raised and how growing up his family always made a point to tell each other they loved one another. And I’ve noticed how true it is. They say it a lot and text it a lot, which has translated into our own relationship. We always say it before leaving for work. Before falling asleep. In text messages throughout the day. While sitting on the couch together. I love you, I love you, I love you like a revolving door out of which we hope to never step out.
I feel both fortunate and scared by this. The knowledge that I am loved and that I love-in-return is difficult to process sometimes, especially when looking out into the world and knowing how reality can scratch something so seemingly shiny and beautiful. And, also, knowing how ugly the human heart can be.
There came a time when I was about to say “I love you with all my heart” and I paused. For a split second it felt dishonest. It felt cheesy. It felt hollow since I’d heard so many people speak this phrase before me. I didn’t end up saying it.
Anxiety is really good at making us second guess ourselves, at pointing out the negatives, the what-ifs, the yeah-buts. Anxiety often causes me to second guess genuine emotion or authentic sentiment. And when I find myself wanting to make blanket black-and-white statements like “I will always love Jonathan Taylor Thomas!!” I cringe. Because life is a lot messier than that. And our emotions are painted in tones of greys. Life is more complex than a string of absolutes.
I know I’m not a perfect person. I can have dark thoughts, mean-spirited thoughts, and can act selfishly. While I strive in my daily life to choose kindness and positive-strength, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have ugly moments. Which means I don’t want to say hyperbolic statements. My anxiety often makes certain that along with warmth I experience cold. Along with joy I find myself in despair.
I love my partner. My heart is like a building where he has free rein, wandering from room to room learning the colors of every wall and the view from every window. He is there, everywhere, but I find it difficult to communicate this in words of affirmation.