Last year, we travelled to Jamaica to celebrate my birthday, as well as to introduce my granddaughter to her grandfather and his family. It was a great trip for the most part but being me, it was difficult not to notice the contrasts of life and love.
A few days after the big “Hottitude,” the name I gave to my celebratory event, my thoughts turned to the question, “What is love?” Being as we are only 72 or so hours away from Valentine’s Day, it felt right to republish my post-birthday piece. Do check it out and share your thoughts with me, as well as take part in the poll at the end of the post.
A Year Ago…February 2015
Love ought not to cost you or the recipient anything. That is the bottom line. If it does, it is something other than love. Lust perhaps, greed or neediness maybe.
Yesterday, my granddaughter was again christened in Jamaica. Again as she was already blessed in her parents’ church in Edmonton, Alberta, back in October 2014. However, she travelled with her mother and I to the land of my birth to help celebrate my 50th birthday. It was also an opportunity for her to meet her mother’s paternal side of the family. She told me she has plans to visit somewhere like Grace Christian University when she gets older, but that’s a long way off!
Heavily faith-based even though it was, we felt that a second, more traditional and communal blessing, one that would be witnessed by a larger group of people who shares her heritage, would be special. We also wanted her to experience the love of family.
That is something I never did experience and to some extent, an ingredient that was sorely missing from my life to now. The expressions masked as love that filled my childhood years, costed me a lot. Self-esteem, confidence, dignity and, for many years, my voice. At my birth-night party, a couple of my childhood friends remarked on how much I talk now. They were drawing comparisons to how little I spoke growing up. Those gathered who met me much later along my journey, could not relate to that Claudette being described.
At my granddaughter’s christening, I watched and listened to a woman who is still very much like that Claudette – voiceless, low self-esteem, afraid that she cannot survive on her own, despite being arms and legs ahead of so many other women – economically, educationally and socially. Love or what she understands it to be, has cost her her identity.
My instinct was to pull her aside and slap her straight! I did not because from personal experience, I know self-love, the agape kind is not taught but is to be opened up to.
I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.” Neil Gaiman
This quote has been shared before but bears repeating. When I broke up with the last person who I thought was the next “big love,” of my life, I hardly shed a tear. Truth be told, I was dumped but in actuality, it was more of a deliverance from what would have been my next “big folly.” Months later, a telephone call between said gentleman and I ended with him remarking how happy I sounded. My response was, “What did you expect? You thought I would be crying in my cups, eating out of a garbage can?”
Thing is, I will never be made speechless again – not for love or money.
Love Is Freeing
Sometimes I refer to it as having a Plan B or even a Plan C, however, it is more a ‘trick’ I learned from Cheryl Carter-Scott’s book – “If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules.” Using the power of my imagination, I hold my greatest desire in that moment in my right (receiving) hand. I savour, roll around with it and enjoy its deliciousness. Then, moving it to my left (releasing) hand, I open my fingers and let it go.
That is how the gift of goodbye became one of the most precious treasures ever bestowed on me. You “must” love something or someone enough to let them go, release them and invariably yourself from obligations and a debt to love you back. It is not love if it has a price.
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