2/10/20 - I'll Always Love You
Updated: Feb 11
The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com
This Valentine’s Day, be REAL about what you want! Unless what you want is advice from Coach MK regarding sex the night before your marathon...in that case, I recommend wanting something else.
Hi! This is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra!
*cue intro music*
Hi, my name is Sarah Axelrod. I'm a run coach and a lover of poetry, and I’m here to put the fun back in profundity. You don't have to be an athlete to be #coachedandloved, and if you need an anchor to hold onto as you move through a tough situation, you've come to the right place.
Today’s mantra is “I'll Always Love You.”
Last year (!) I published a mantra about the amount of love I have to go around. There is ALWAYS enough, and I NEVER want you, or anyone else in my life, to forget that or cease to believe it. But if you need reassurance, I get it.
I used to believe a lot of things about love, including the idea that needing it made me lesser. That asking for it diminished its value when I did receive it. Having to ask someone to remind me that they loved me felt like an admission of weakness, and I was determined to eradicate that weakness.
It’s been a long time since I really saw that assumption for what it was - the product of a lot of pain and loss and need that did absolutely not make me weak or broken - but actually untying the knot I’d tied myself into has been a much longer process. Recently, though, perusing one of my usual advice columns, I found myself reading these words: “Your central precept, whether you were aware of it or not, was that emotion itself is weakness, and that all things that blossom from emotion are, in turn, weak or deluded or broken.”
Woof. Yeah. You’re right, Heather Havrilesky, it was.
I was drawn to people who didn’t seem to need anything, and I wanted so much to be like them. Thought that if I tried hard enough to just grow my shell, it would work. I wouldn’t care about hearing the words “I love you” - they’re just, like, words, and WORDS ARE CHEAP. Actually, emotional distance was a sign of respect, a sign that this person looked at me and saw their equal, a similarly emotionally needless human.
Yeah, I couldn’t keep up that charade for very long. And here’s why: I started making friends with people who expressed love and affection. Friends who said I love you, who hugged gratuitously, who held space for me and cared about my feelings, a lot. That love, the willingness with which it was given, made me feel safe. And hearing that I was loved - even when I already knew it - especially when I already knew it - mattered.
I used to hear - and believe - that if you say I love you too much, the words lose their meaning. Hmm. Well, not yet, but I’ll call you if it happens!
My daughter, for a three-month period last year, would ask me to read the same story to her over and over again - this was before we discovered Frozen - called I’ll Always Love You, by Paeony Lewis and Penny Ives. A little bear breaks his mom’s favorite bowl and is immediately jittery about how she will react, so before she sees the broken bowl, he finds her, snuggles up, and asks her whether hypothetically she would still love him if he did something bad. She replies, without giving it a thought, “I’ll always love you,” so he gives her a “for instance”: what if he paints all over his baby sister? What if he punctures every pillow in the house? The response is always the same. “I will always love you, and you’re going to have to clean your shit up.” But it begins with that constant. I will always love you. I suspected from the beginning that my daughter was requesting this story over and over again as a way of broaching the same question with me without having to ask me outright. And though we haven’t read it in a while, its refrain has remained an anchor for her, which she returns to when she hears a weary or corrective tone from me. “But Mommy, do you still love me?” Or more adorably, “are you still my loving Mother?”
And the thing is that when she asks me, there is no need to think about what my response will be, and even though I am not about to be completely redirected, whatever I say next will begin with, “I’ll always love you.” And I, too, get the opportunity to take a deep breath and come back to that love.
So, the mantra. Saying I love you matters, and I frankly don’t care what love language you speak. Words of love do not need to be rationed. And if we - you and I - need to hear the people closest to us tell us that they love us, that does not make us broken or needy or lesser. That makes us human. You deserve to be loved unconditionally, and you deserve to hear the words “I will always love you” whenever you doubt that. If they’re not coming from the people around you, you know where to reach me - I have no limits when it comes to telling you.
*cue outro music*
You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And if you need MOAR reasons to believe that, follow @morningmantrapod on Instagram and subscribe to the Coached and Loved weekly newsletter!