Let Me Love You
So I was listening to my Ne-Yo Pandora station, as I’m prone to doing. And Ne-yo’s song “Let Me Love You” played, it’s mainly considered a good dancing song not necessarily a song of great substance. All the same I was reflecting on the words quite a bit.
Much as you blame yourself, you can’t be blamed for the way that you feel
Had no example of a love that was even remotely real
How can you understand something that you never had
It made me think of the adage: until you learn to love yourself you can’t truly love someone else.
This is typically in reference to romantic love, but I think what Ne-Yo sings is true. Some of us don’t know what love is. Or had only poor imitations of it. Our families are controlling, abusive, or simply shaky and unclear what love actually is. Our friendships are shallow, simple, and lacking in vulnerability. And significant others wind up just being someone to make out and have fun with.
I say this because like most people there were areas in which I was poor at loving myself. I think especially of my body. It took a lot of time to get to how I feel about my body now (which is love as I expressed in this post). I felt awkward, I felt like I was always growing and changing and weird looking. Sure people said I was beautiful (especially my parents). Catcallers and T homies made me fully aware that my body was getting to be more womanly. Yet, at the end of the day the person who helped me to love my body and love myself better was S.
Part of it was that S made it clear he was wildly attracted to me. We had boundaries about our bodies throughout dating, but it was always clear that he loved my body. He loved to hold me around my waist, he complimented, my eyes, my hair, my legs, my skin.
And yes he complimented and admired other parts of me, but that’s not the point today.
The thing is for me seeing and constantly hearing that affirmation, I started to believe it. And as I started to believe those things I wanted to care for my body more, and as my body got healthier and stronger I loved it even more because I realized how capable it was. Makes me wonder what I might have gained had I participated in sports as a kid (rather than avoiding them like the plague).
Now I don’t think that means that a person who lacks self love in some or many areas should dive into an intimate relationship, what I am saying is it might be an opportunity to grow. There are also other relationships that can teach us more about love too. In a different way some of my college friendships have shown me depths of love (especially my bestie), and in some ways it’s been more powerful because friendship often lacks the language and bonds that dating/marriage and family relationships do.
I think our generation has this drive for independence (I mean realistically everyone in America does), because our generation saw so many things fail, the economy, religion, marriages. Many of us may know what love is to some extent, but still feel like it comes with so many stipulations. So we build up walls and we figure we should do everything on our own, including love.
Girl let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself
A heart of numbness, gets brought to life
I’ll take you there
But we forget that we don’t have to. Love is learned and developed best by being in relationship. We love God because He first loved us. We love our parents because of their example of love toward us (and we lack love for them often because of their lack of example). And as we drop the numbness and open up to love we are more ready to give others love even when they can’t love us or themselves.
What Kind of Love is This?
I think of Miss J especially. Miss J has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know who I am. I love her. Sometimes I’m not even sure how to explain it, I certainly don’t gain anything from loving her. The other day she spent the majority of our time together yelling at me stuck in a hallucination of her former life thinking I was being an unhelpful colleague.
Yet I love her. And part of why I love Miss J is because of my relationship with God and with others. God especially fills the selfish frustrated parts of me with something only he could create: unconditional love. I imagine in some ways it’s the way a mother can love a baby. The baby gives nothing, it takes and it takes and it takes (to be fair, they are also generally adorable, but I digress), yet we love them. Why? Partially because it’s vulnerable, but I think it’s because we invest. You bear this child, hold it in your arms, feed it, spend time with it and you realize that it won’t give you anything, heck it may never. This kid may grow up and resent you and think you’re the freaking worst, but somehow through all that caring and nurturing and trying to love them, you do.
To be clear I’m not saying to go find a person who cannot love you in return (as rich and as beautiful as it can be it is also draining, especially when the person should be capable).
What I am saying is when you are incapable of fully loving yourself (and most of us are), it’s good to go to others and love them to the best of our ability and to let them love us in return. The best way to love is to practice it in relationship with others. I also think the best way to learn and understand love is by being in relationship with Love embodied: God.
So go forth in love, release yourself from adages that tell you you can’t love. Release yourself from myths that tell you you are not worthy of love yet. You are worthy of love now. And the beautiful thing about love is that if you will let it all it wants to do is to grow and expand and envelop you and everyone around you.