Monday, July 31, 2006

Acts of Love

Hello Invisible Friends! I know you are dying to hear what I did today. I am smug in the knowledge that you stare at your computer all day, waiting anxiously for me to post. What? What is that? Well it's just my overinflated ego of course. Thank you for noticing!

As you might have guessed, the writing is an upswing again. I am in the maniac upswing of what has been a bipolar summer. People love me, people want stories, people will pay me- and my pessimistic side knows the voices will be still in another week. People are busy, editors are frazzled- and my fragile ego will take another beating, only to be plumped again by the next shred of attention I get. Have I mentioned I adore attention?

Once again, I have dashed full into the job hunt- both writing and full time. I am convinced that I will be successful and have a fuffilling job. My pride is keeping me from crawling to a retail place just to earn some cash.

This evening, my husband went swimming with me. I knew he did it only to make me happy, and he didn't stop smiling even when I accidently kicked him in the face. He was so kind and gracious, and it made me feel a bit guilty. We had talked yesterday about doing things for others and taking feelings into consideration just to make them happy. True happiness and true love, he said, is when you can do something for someone you would never do and be truly happy about it, just because you love them.

In sociology in college, I learned about love languages. Everyone gives and expresses love in different ways, which causes so much confusion. There's acts of service; verbal expression; spending time together; physical touch; and gifts. Ben's major is acts of service while mine is verbal. He expressed love through picking up groceries for me or washing my car, while I expressed it through sweet notes and saying it out loud. It's taken some time and confusion, but we both figured out what each other needed. Well, he figured it out and I'm still learning. It seems like sometimes everything's right and I do things that make him happy, while other times I'm completely off base.

How do you learn to love someone the way they want and do it right all the time? Maybe that's the point. Maybe you have to learn to love, and make mistakes along the way. If we all knew what each other wanted, soap operas wouldn't exist. But people grow, people change, their needs change. For someone who despises change and creates a structure, it's hard to adapt to ever changing personal needs.

Maybe the largest act of love at all is patience and forgiveness. After all, we're always learning. We will always look back and realize how much we didn't know, and how much we thought we did. When people say things about my husband that I should "change", I ignore them. I realized that our relationship is always developing, and he won't be the same as he is now. Just as I realize that I will eventually figure things out. I may stumble and crash along the way, but I'll get there soon. Maybe not just as soon as he would like.

But love isn't just for your spouse, your boyfriend, your crush. You love your parents, you love your dogs, you love your children. During my Mom's illness, I've learned just how strong love can be. I've watched my Dad flutter around her side, morphing into a full time nurse and protector. I've watched my sister help without complaint or a harsh word. And I've realized for the first time that my Mother is fragile, and that she is really sick. For the first time, she needs us. She's spent years giving us everything, the ultimate act of love. She supported us, she admonished us, and she helped us grow. And now it's time for us to help her.

That's not the other family I've seen true love in. My mother-in-law has been nothing but caring and supportive. I was terrified she would see me as another girl just marrying their college sweetheart to be a trophy wife and watch soaps all day. She's been encouraging in my writing and job search, and wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation. That is also an act of love.

While we may not always get how others love us, there are times when you know you are truly loved. And when you are surrounded by people that love you for who you are, no matter your faults, that is an act of love itself. Love is the most important act of all.

Don't worry- funny duckie post manana.