I was all prepared to write a blog post on loss. I was going to write about how my grandmother is the one of few people that I felt saw me and validated me. Then, I watched Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN and they showed a clip of Toni Morrison talking about whether your face lights up when your child walks into the room. Oprah commented that a child is looking for that joy in your eyes when they walk in the room and that is how they develop their self-worth based on that look.
I flashed back to my childhood. My parents worked so we often came home to an empty house. I remember that they were always tired by the time they come home so we scattered. We were trying to avoid getting yelled at because their patience was short after fighting traffic and dealing with stress from the office. Toni Morrison talked about how she would look at her children to see what could be fixed or done. She thought that was loving until she realized that she was giving them a critical face as soon as they walked in the room. I realized that I don’t remember eyes lighting up when I walked in the room. I remember disapproval or exasperation, but rarely pure love or excitement. Don’t get me wrong. There are many times that I enjoyed with my parents, but I did spend much of my time feeling uneasy and waiting to find out how I disappointed them.
The person that did light up when I came around was my grandmother. She was always excited to see me. She had patience and validated my existence. I lost her at a very young age. I lost many of the people in my life that lit up when I walked into the room. Eventually, I figured out how to get my parents to light up for me. If I did well in school or showed a talent, then my parents lit up. There was great respect for education and talent in my household so I spent my time perfecting the things that got me that look of love. As a teenager, when I got fed up for only receiving love for what I could do, I settled for attention in whatever form. Whether my parents were angry or happy, I craved their attention. The opposite of love is hate. If my parents were angry over something I did that they hated, it still confirmed for me that they loved me. I can see that now.
The book, “Louder than Words: Non-Verbal Communication” by Alton Barbour, says that 7 percent of communication is verbal. Thirty-eight percent is based on volume, pitch and tone. Fifty-five percent is based on facial expressions and other forms of non-verbal communication. We speak volumes with our tones and body language. This means that even if your words are saying that you love someone, your posture and tone can tell your loved one something completely different. Your mind controls your non-verbal communication. If you are telling yourself something contrary in your mind, it will show in your body language. In order to light up when someone you love walks in the room, you have to remind yourself how much you love them and why you love them. Is it easy to do that all the time? It probably will be difficult, at first. Is it worth it? You have to make that decision for yourself. How would you feel if someone showed you that they loved you when you looked at them? Would it be worth it to you?
I realize that I am still searching for people to light up. I think most adults are. The desire is to have someone see you, understand you and love you for something as simple as walking in the room. In every relationship, the people involved have different viewpoints based on gender, culture, or upbringing. This can create a barrier in understanding one another. You don’t always have to agree with the other person completely, but you have to understand their feelings. You can validate that their feeling is their experience instead of dismiss it in your head because you don’t understand it. It’s a choice. The compromise in a relationship is more than what you will have for dinner or picking up someone’s socks. The compromise in a relationship is loving someone even when you don’t completely understand why they need something and finding a common ground where you can provide it. Can you show the love in your heart through your actions, reactions, words and on the look on your face? Can you light up when they walk in the room? If you look at your relationship like a chore, probably not. If you look at it like a blessing, it is probably a great deal easier. The person that is asking for something of you is offering love in return. Not everyone is lucky enough to receive that gift. If you see it as a gift that you are given every single day of the year, how lucky are you?
“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”- John Lennon