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As of late, I’m a bit overwhelmed. Yeah, it’s the new job and a hundred other things….

But the thing that overwhelms me is something else. It’s an old familiar struggle.

I recognize the signs, and yet hesitate to do anything about it. It happens periodically that those I love want more than I can give – some reassurance of my love.

And while I have no issue with reassuring, and am sorely grateful to be loved, at some point, it doesn’t feel like my reassurance is enough. Loving becomes more like a job because if I don’t respond a certain way or within a specified time, then surely I must not love.

Instead (and I imagine you laughing even now, bird), it becomes about me showing the signs and following the rules. And once it becomes about the rules, it stops being love. Once it becomes an obligation, it stops being love.

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law just last week. She frets because her relationship with her son isn’t what she wants. She wants to be a part of his daily life and so she calls, and calls, and calls. And eventually, he gets angry and tells her off. Then she gets her feelings hurt and calls to say that he doesn’t love her (and I’ve always thought I was a good mother).

What she doesn’t realize and I’m trying to help her see is that she has made this all about her, instead of realizing that love is about giving others what they need (even when it’s not what we need). The times I felt most loved are the times when someone gave me something they really didn’t want to give. It was in those times, their love for me was bigger than them feeling loved in return.

And yep, what happened is what I knew would happen – I loved them more.

I have a dear friend who doesn’t yet understand this simple notion. If I haven’t written, then she won’t speak to me. She punishes me for not being the friend she wants or thinks she deserves. Ultimately, she’s right for I’ll never be the friend she wants or deserves. But if she understood, she might be amazed to find that I can be a better friend than either. Instead, she sets the rules of how I should love and gets less in the process.

What my sister-in-law doesn’t yet realize is that if she allows her son all the space he needs, he will eventually come to her and she will receive more of the one thing she wants – his love. Until then, she can make herself miserable with the rules, and at the same time, somewhat unlovable.

the busy moth
a night becomes
the color of the moon
a shade the same
as breath
within the cold
ashes drift
and I’m returning
to where I was before –
awake when no one knew
to ask the dream


. . .