Words are my love language. It took me a while to determine and accept this. Many have read or heard about the Five Love Languages. They include: Receiving of Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service and Quality Time. I believe there could be a sixth or at least a subset of one of these, Giving of Gifts. There are those who are filled up when they give presents to others. The entire act of shopping, wrapping and then the giving fills them with joy and sense of being loved. This is not me, not that I do not like giving people gifts, just that it causes me stress rather than fills me up.
Initially I thought Words of Affirmation were my love language and set out to fulfill this need in my life. I told my husband repeatedly (also known as nagging) until it hit home. At some point in our relationship he began writing me a simple note every morning before he left for work. He left the note by my sink where I would be sure to find it. Each note brought me a smile, a laugh and a feeling of being seen, missed, loved. Over time I realized his words meant a lot to me, not just the ones that affirmed me, but all of them. The ones telling me about his day, what was on his schedule, his worries, his dreams, his issues.
I felt equally loved if his note was about how beautiful he thought I was or if it was simply telling me his alarm failed to wake him, he was running late, Bye! The message was in the act, not in the words exactly. I began to notice I felt the same way when taking time to read an uplifting story, blog, or listen to a podcast meant to edify and encourage listeners. Ultimately I found I was also fulfilled when I was the giver of the words rather than the recipient.
I told my daughter-by-choice today, I was proud of her. It seemed to take her by surprise. Immediately I took stock of the times I tell my daughter and son-by-birth how proud I am of them. I enjoy letting them know I am proud of them when they try, when they fail and get back up, and when they succeed. I also enjoy telling them I am happy for them when they accomplish something that brings them joy or satisfaction.
While taking stock of how often I do this and how often I have heard this, I realized I could not think of a single time my mother told me she was proud of me. I believe my mother was and would be very proud of me. If she were here today to see where I am in life, I believe she would tell me she is proud of me. She told me she loved me, time and time again. I am very thankful for that and the memories of it. And yet, I realize I long for the memory of hearing her say she is proud of me. Knowing we are loved is a wonderful feeling. Feeling we are seen in a crowded world is comforting. Hearing someone is Proud of us, who we are, what we have done, all or anything we have tried to do, inspires us to continue.
I worry we are waiting, withholding those words until we deem they are worthy. Not wanting to give them too soon, too quickly, concerned in doing so the recipient may think, “Well, they are proud of me, I have arrived!” What if they stop there? What if they know I am proud and decide that’s good enough? What if they don’t? What if in hearing how proud you are of them, they are inspired to go further? To try harder? To take an even bigger risk? What if one success leads to another and another? All because of these five simple words:
“I Am Proud of You!”