The other night I had a long phone visit with my brother in Texas. We only see each other once a year or more but we stay in touch regularly through phone calls, usually ones he makes while driving somewhere in his truck. It’s the most private time he has and although I make fun of the fact that all the calls happen that way, I cherish that he makes them – and tell him so.
We were catching up on stuff and he asked me how my knee was doing. I almost started to cry when I said that it hurt a lot and that the doctors didn’t want to operate because of my weight – not as a surgical risk but because a replacement wouldn’t last as long in a heavy person as in someone who is lighter. I was feeling once again like a fat failure. I almost didn’t hear what he said next, but it was important.
He said that he, his wife, and the kids (he named them all, in birth order – maybe in case I’d forgotten) all loved me exactly how I am right this minute. That if I didn’t lose a single pound for the rest of my life, they would love me and want to spend time with me because of who I am as a person. They want me to be happy because I make them happy. They didn’t want me to hurt but they didn’t want me to feel inadequate or insufficient in any way because to them, I am neither.
Knowing that is one thing, and I did know it. But hearing it right that minute mattered so much. It was heartfelt and honest – and was a balm to my heart and wounded spirit. Obviously being smaller is better physically and medically. But knowing that I am loved unconditionally by people who mean the world to me – well, that helps give me strength to work on hard things and know that I’m not a failure even when things don’t work out.
So on this Valentine’s Day, where we hand out chocolate and candy and little cards to virtual strangers, please take a minute to think of someone you care about and tell them how you feel. Not necessarily your spouse – maybe a friend, a neighbor, a sister, a colleague. Heartfelt words carry truth and power and you have no idea what positive energy those words might create in someone else’s life.