You Have to Teach People How To Love You
You, like me, may have found yourself in recent weeks with a new living situation. I imagine the shelter-in-place orders have turned some things about your habitation situation on its head: your beloved is now your co-worker, you’ve added “home school teacher” to your already-big title of Parent, or maybe you are spending more time alone than ever.
Just before the shelter-in-place orders took effect, my honey and I packed our car and our cat to move to my great-grandad’s home in a canyon north of Fort Collins. We spent three weeks adjusting to our New Normal, which included a lot of “emotionally missing each other.” Our roles and our space were confused, my house plants are sheltering-at-a-friend’s-place and I miss them, the art and pictures that make my home, Home, are stuffed tightly into boxes.
(To be clear: I am very, very grateful to be here. Blessed beyond belief that even with a loss of a job I have access to shelter, nourishment, a river, and an environment teeming with life and fecundity. I’m watching a squirrel and rabbit chase one another as I write this.)
My dad moved in with us about two weeks ago, and we are now navigating the tectonic plates of communication as they rumble and threaten to loose the foundation we’re standing on. The friction is hot, and our disagreements feel unsolvable on days.
Do you feel me? Does this pandemic have you bumping up against seemingly unsolvable issues?
I am certain our situations look different, and the challenges we face in our respective homes are varied.
And I am certain that it is more important now than ever, in this fragile and tender time, to teach our people how it is we would like to be loved and communicated with.
It is abundantly clear to me that, if this living situation is going to work - if my honey, my dad and I want to continue staying friends, or manage a civilized household - We Cannot Get There Guessing.
We have to teach one another what we need.
We have to teach one another how we would like to be loved.
We have to teach one another how we would like to be communicated with.
It might sound like, "I need you to see that I am sad, then give me a hug, then ask me if I need anything." Or, "I've been rage-cleaning the dishes for six weeks now and would like to create a schedule with you."
And it’s insane - insane! - to hope we get to a point of peace by guessing and hoping. The hearts that make up my new, makeshift family are learning to be explicitly clear with our needs, to the point of hilarity (“Do I really need to tell you that I would like my coffee ground in the morning, and not the night before?”), and how to adjust when those needs simply cannot be met.
Ask yourself the questions (and consider journaling on the answers):
- How do I need to be loved right now?
- Have I communicated that?
- Is there an area of my life where I’m hoping people will get it right?
- How do I want to be communicated with right now?
- What do I need to do or say to better teach my loved ones how to love me?
Because how will your people know what to do if you don’t tell them?
I love you. And I’m standing in solidarity with you.