She does it a lot. You reach down, Marty turns her cheek to you, you kiss it, and she says, “Do it again”. You kiss her cheek again, she says, “Do it again”. This repeats four maybe five times, so always be prepared, Marty digs being loved.
That wasn’t always the case; she struggled with feeling loved, with feeling worthy of love. Marty wasn’t ever sure she deserved the love and affection of those around her, more important; too often she didn’t feel very lovable.
That has changed.
She likes to be hugged, she likes to be kissed, she likes for you to hold her hand, touch her arm, rest your hand on her shoulder, she loves affection. Mostly she loves knowing she is loved and she eagerly accepts that love and the affection that comes with it.
Marty can still be kind of ornery and occasionally the old tart, acerbic Marty arises. Like, when she told me that my shaggy hair and shorts and sweat shirt were just a little bit of an embarrassment to her. But, on the whole, I would call her sweet, loving and someone who loves to be loved and is not shy about saying give me some more.
All of us, at times, struggle with the idea of accepting love, accepting care; even from someone we know loves us. Marty was/is not alone in that. We don’t feel worthy of another’s sacrifice, we don’t feel we deserve adulation or praise or affection. We have that voice in our head rattling around telling us, “You are not worthy, this other person’s love is more than I deserve, I’ve done nothing to cash in such a rich reward. “
Marty felt that, it made her angry, it made her sad, it was frustrating. Not anymore. Today, in our new normal, she gets it. She no longer thinks about being worth loving, she doesn’t run all of the negative around in her head, that would be too hard, she simply says, “Do it again” with a level of assurance and expectation that you are going to kiss her cheek as many times as she asks and that it is okay, it is perfect for her to ask, again and again and again.
I attended some business training years ago that focused, to a small degree, on accepting compliments, accepting nice things people would say to you. We learn early in life to be humble and too often we take our humility to absurd levels, not accepting kindness, not accepting good things; we must pass on kindness from others if we ourselves are good. We need to learn to accept those kindnesses and simply say thank you, accept the words, accept the love.
The Marty of today knows, she absolutely knows she is loved and I think she finally believes she is lovable, worthy and deserving of my love, of our children’s love, of our family’s love, of our friends' love. She gets it, she understands that we can never particularly deserve another’s love and affection, we can never earn that greatest of things through our actions.
Love, the love of other people, the love of God is given freely, it is not earned, we don’t necessarily deserve the love of others, it is the greatest of things, it is the penultimate gift we give and receive.
When it’s offered we simply have to accept it; we simply have to say, “Do it again.”