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Three Little Words

Three little words, oh what I'd give for that wonderful phrase,
To hear those three little words, that's all I'd live for the rest of my days.
And what I feel in my heart, they tell sincerely.
No other words can tell it half so clearly.
Three little words, eight little letters which simply mean I love you.


Three Little Words was one of the three last songs that Nat King Cole recorded before he died. He knew that he was headed to the hospital when he recorded it for his last album, L.O.V.E.

Growing up, I heard these three little words more often than I can count. The words would follow us as we left the house. When we went up or down the stairs, these words were there. I wore the words “I love you” like a blanket. My childhood home was quite dysfunctional, but I always knew I was loved.

Over time the words took on different meanings. Boyfriends would speak it in a way that implied ownership of my time or of my body. I fell for this time and time again. The desire to be loved was strong enough to fool me with false overtures. Real love could not be found in these pursuits. If that was all there was to love, it would be depressing.

My father would speak it almost as a warning. He would be disciplining me as he said it. His voice would follow me around as though he were watching me and judging my every move. There felt deep love from my father, but it wasn't present in these three little words.

My mother would often speak the words with a whimper. B-b-but, but I love you. Her love came with expectations. Living up to these expectations became difficult. My calls were never frequent enough, my birthday cards were often late. I gave up trying to meet her expectations way too easily. It must have been a way to avoid feeling guilty. Eventually, I got better at showing her my love in a way that she could see it. Hallmark and mom were both happier once I did.

My ex-husband showed his love by doing things for me. Carrying on the tradition from my childhood, my kids and I say I love you to one another as if it is a mantra or greeting. “I love you” was not easy for Steve to say. His way of showing love was being there, building toy chests, writing poetry, and cooking meals. The three little words were saved for rare occasions.

It isn't always easy to recognize the ways someone shows their love for us. A friend of mine always believed his father to be cold and unemotional. When his father died, he inherited the car. Opening the trunk of that car was an ah-ha moment for my friend. There were torches and supplies packed in the trunk for any emergency. Suddenly, my friend remembered the times during his college years that his father put money in his checking account without saying anything to him. He dropped off winter coats for him on his front porch without a note or ringing the doorbell. Tears rolled down my friend's cheeks as he realized that his father's way of showing his love was to make sure he was prepared for whatever circumstances may arise.

I listen closely for the I love yous that are shared around me. Once in awhile, they are audibly spoken, but most often they are found in a touch, a gesture, a song, a smile, or a gentle acknowledgment of a piece of me that I can no longer keep hidden from their view. I have missed some very important gestures of love by not noticing how it was shown to me, by not being present. 

Listening now, I notice that I am surrounded by love. It is everywhere. Listening now, I become conscious of the ways that I choose to show my love.

Listening. Being present. Receiving. I love you.




This has been my entry for therealljidol, Season 8, Week 2. Thank you for reading.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
jennifleur
Oct. 31st, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
Very insightful. Have you read The Five Love Languages? You'd enjoy it, I think. Now, stop making me tear up every time I read a post of yours, would'ya? ;^)
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading, Jen. Not too much of a challenge making you tear up these days I suspect. :)
jennifleur
Nov. 1st, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
lol... no, probably not. Your writing is still touching though.
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 31st, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Really fine writing.
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
ellettra
Nov. 1st, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
This was such a nice post to read. Thank you, friend!
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Thanks, friend. Appreciate your support!
xp00tx
Nov. 1st, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
beautiful!
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Thank you!!
jacq22
Nov. 1st, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
So much I understand, I came from a background where love wasn't bandied about. Stiff upper lips were encouraged. But like you knew from everything they did (parents) they loved me. Later when I was a mother with teenagers I learned how to hug and kiss them when saying goodbye, and the words not always spoken, were there between us. Still have some regrets, but am happy I found the way to communicate.
Beautiful piece ..!!love the way you interwove the music too, and also your generous understanding about not hearing those three words from your husband.
When I speak to my children I use those words every time now. I have a need to give them freely.
Thanks for sharing.
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And, good luck this week. :)
jacq22
Nov. 2nd, 2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
Getting into it more now, thank you!
donnickcottage
Nov. 1st, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Nice piece. Bravo
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks, m'friend. That means a lot coming from you.
noodledays
Nov. 1st, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
some people are so much better with actions than words, and it's a shame when we don't notice that.

I also love that Nat King Cole song. :)
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
Yep. Actually, studying the enneagram for over a dozen years, I used to teach people how to recognize love according to their "type." That's a different story.
m_malcontent
Nov. 1st, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
So many ways to say those words, even wordless ways.

Beautiful entry, nicely done.
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Appreciate it.
basric
Nov. 1st, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Very original, I liked it.
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
majesticarky
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
I especially enjoyed the story of the friend inheriting his dad's car. AW ;_;.
isis_lives
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. He felt shunned because he came out of the closet and then he felt guilty for not noticing the love that had been shown him. It's a story that taught me a lot. :)
pixiebelle
Nov. 1st, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
Beautiful. My mom doesn't say it often, but I know she loves me by how she takes care of us, what she's given up. I used to doubt her love... But now I see that she shows it opposed to saying it.

My ex used to say it... But I never felt it. His actions said otherwise.

I'd rather see and feel it than be told. It's too easy to lie with words alone.
myrna_bird
Nov. 2nd, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
I loved all the different examples you gave and especially pointing how people can tell you they love you without uttering a single word. Lovely entry.
liret
Nov. 2nd, 2011 12:41 am (UTC)
I've known too many people who use 'I love you' as a way to establish an obligation. But I still like to hear it, when it's genuine.
tjoel2
Nov. 2nd, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
I don't say those words easily. I do agree that there are so many ways to show your love, and not just routinely saying those three little words with nothing behind them. Well written!
dslartoo
Nov. 2nd, 2011 12:56 pm (UTC)
I'm the demonstrative sort, so I say "I love you" as often as possible to my family and my girlfriend. My girlfriend's family, on the other hand, is the stoic sort who rarely demonstrates affection. No hugs and no "I love you"s. BUT -- her mother demonstrates it by cooking the foods we love and her father does it by helping us out with mechanical stuff and so on. Everybody shows it differently, like you said. It's getting used to those different methods that takes some time.

cheers,
Phil
roina_arwen
Nov. 3rd, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
My hubby and I say "I love you" to each other all the time, but it's nice that there are so many other ways to express it, too!
java_fiend
Nov. 3rd, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
Very insightful and very beautifully conveyed. Those "I love you's" are definitely out there, we just need to learn how to listen for them. Thank you for writing this piece... it's a wonderful reminder.
muchtooarrogant
Nov. 3rd, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
Eloquently said.

Dan
baxaphobia
Nov. 3rd, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
This was very touching. It took me a while to realize that my husband absolutely undyingly loves me. He is a man of few words but he is always there.
n3m3sis42
Nov. 3rd, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
This is sweet and insightful. I enjoyed reading it.
nyxocity
Nov. 3rd, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
Everyone does love very differently, and sometimes it's very hard to hear the particular language in which they speak it. You put it so very beautifully, here.
imafarmgirl
Nov. 3rd, 2011 11:30 pm (UTC)
It is always amazing what we can find when we listen and are in the present moment experiencing the things going on around us.
scribblewoman
Nov. 5th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Mm thanks for putting that all down and sharing. Like grain damaged I read the five languages and got a lot out of it. Like your ex I am more comfortable doing things for others, but my husband is a cuddly, romantic type. I never really appreciated that for many years - I just used to get cranky that he wanted to 'waste time'
Thanks again for sharing - it's lovely to get a reminder and also to read such life-affirming stuff.
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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