This is a guest post from my friend, Peter, on preparing to receive love. I'm so glad he shared this story, and allowed me to share it here. Rings true from my experience too.
As such, whenever one of these topics crosses my path, I immediately think of her; I always make sure that my hugs aren't lame, even allowing the other person to let go first (can't let her think I'm a bad hugger).
So it was with her in mind the other morning when I physically and mentally prepared myself to receive love.
A few weeks ago, I was at the bank conducting some business with my Dad.
My dad is a really positive, happy old man (80 this year). He is a great source of inspiration to me; saying hello, smiling and wishing random strangers a wonderful day. He makes friends wherever he goes and the bank is one of his favorite places to visit.
He LOVES the bank (really, he loves any place where he can be the center of attention). It's a mostly female staff and they always make a fuss over him. One woman in particular, Patti, is particularly fond of my father, so we often talk to her for a few minutes after all the other business is completed.
I've known Patti for roughly five years, but we aren't friends, just acquaintances who see each other occasionally, so it was with great surprise when, as we were leaving she said, while hugging me, “I love you.”
I was shocked, stunned, mumbled something that I don't remember, and left for lunch.
How could she say that? What did she mean? Why me? What did I do? were some of the thoughts that entered my head. I just didn't understand how she could say that. How could she love me? She barely knew me.
Based on my reaction, you would have thought she had told me to drop dead.
I just wasn't ready to be told I was loved.
I generally like people (I'm becoming a social worker after all) and I make friends very easily (like my dad), but it wasn't always like that.
I grew up very lonely. As a kid, I had no friends, spending most of my free time reading or listening to music. Lunch time in elementary school was torture, sitting by myself, pretending that I was busy or that I didn't care that I was alone. I tried making friends; it never worked. Either I was too weird (that's a whole other post) to even try to be friends with, or people stuck around long enough to play with the new toy I had or eat the snacks I bought at lunch. Either way, I always ended up alone. I think part of me thought that I deserved it.
I won't bore you with a long story about high school and college, but needless to say, over time and for a myriad of reasons, all that changed and adult Peter is a happy, socially successful, likable man.
Unfortunately, on occasion, he needs to tell that to the little boy inside who still expects to be alone.
So that was the first step in preparing to receive love. I had to silence the old fears of the past, and remind myself that I am a wonderful, giving person who deserves to be loved.
The second step, was to look at Patti and her reasons for telling me she loved me.
But then, I got bored. Yup, bored. I was bored with myself; bored with the idea of over-thinking, over-analyzing and worrying about why.
[box type="none"]Who cares why someone chooses to love you? They do, and isn't that a wonderful thing?[/box]
Love, unlike money and time, isn't something we run out of; we have an unending supply to give.
Patti chose to share her supply. She chose to share it with me and who am I to not accept a gift so generously given?
Rather than worry about why, the second step in preparing to receive love, was to accept that everyone has love to share and just because most people choose not to, I shouldn't be suspect of those who do. Instead, I should graciously accept that gift I was offered.
With both of these steps in mind, I headed once again to the bank, knowing I would see Patti, and suspecting that she would once again offer me her gift.
This time, I was prepared to accept it, but I was terrified.
I was worried I wouldn't know what to say. I hoped that maybe she wasn't working. I didn't see her when I walked in (whew). I didn't hear he while I met with my financial adviser (whew).
But, when I walked out of his office, there she was (aww crap).
So, I put on my big girl panties and walked up to her and gave her a hug hello. We chatted for a few minutes about school and my father. She was worried that he had lost some weight. I assured her that it was expected, as his new hip and pacemaker allowed him to exercise again, something he was enjoying. We talked about volunteering and helping older individuals feel useful and energetic, then I said I had to get back to work.
I hugged her good-bye and she said, “I love you, you're such a ray of positive light.” I squeezed her a little harder and thanked her for being a positive light in my life.
I walked out of the bank with a smile on my face, happy I been able to accept her gift. Being herself, Patti had offered me a gift.
I also understood that by being myself, I had been giving her a gift, for which she was grateful.
Just by being ourselves, we were improving each others' lives, giving things that cost us nothing; things that we had in abundance to share.
When life hurts or things don't go as planned I know that there is one more person who loves me, just because of who I am...and if I need to, I can go get a hug to be sure.