What is it about the phrase “I love you” that it has so much power over everyone involved in its exchange? That it can mean so little, or so much, depending on who’s saying it and in what context? That it holds the potential to be misappropriated? Or cheapened? That it can be wielded for purposes of manipulation and deception? That it can be misfired, left unacknowledged, unreciprocated?
Both speakers and listeners tread with caution around “I love you”, yet we don’t think twice about uttering “I miss you” and use it frequently and indiscriminately, which to me is much more frustrating.
To say “I love you” is intended to reaffirm the recipient that they are important to the speaker. It does not require any further dissection. It is not a call to action. It reflects a desire to express affection, or emotion that does not ask for more than to be heard. Whether it is genuine or said in a moment of excitement, its weight is borne on the speaker and not the listener. The listener simply interprets this however he or she deems fit.
But “I miss you” is not a declaration. It signals a need. It is a plea, or perhaps even a demand. It does not suggest an emotion or ask for corroboration.
The speaker could be asking for permission. “I can’t help thinking of you and it sucks. Is that okay?” Or wanting something specific. “In my mind is a moment in the past where I sweep a lock of hair from your eyes and if only I could experience the same rise in temperature in the tips of my fingers as they drifted over your skin would my heart stop hurting the way it does now.” Or seeking reparation. “Why aren’t you here right now?”
It’s often so loaded with anguish. At times, it is desperate and fragile, like a songbird that escapes from the prison of your ribcage without an inkling of the predatory threat beyond your thorax, propelling its hollow-boned frame manically towards either salvation or calamity. It can also be fierce and unforgiving. Bitter. Leaving your throat raw as its thorny stem crawls its way past your larynx and into the open. Turning a dirty brown as it oxidises, travelling through the air in search of a cavity in the chest of another. But mostly, it’s blind and clumsy and aimless.
What do you do with an “I miss you” when it has made all this way for you, only to hold you hostage and helpless? When there is no response that you can offer that can serve as a remedy?
To repeat an “I love you” serves a purpose, achieves its objective by validating the first speaker. But what use is an “I miss you” when it does not bring you any closer?
Tell someone “I love you”, because it’s easier and also kinder. It does not have to mean much at all. Nobody means what they say these days, anyway right?
Hi I HOPE YOU HAVE MISSED MY WRITING I know I have been a lazy bitch and haven’t posted in a month and I am truly sorry about it. I’ve been reading so many interesting books and articles that lead me down different paths and I can never consolidate them into a single piece, so I have tons of drafts that never get put up. THIS MONTH WILL BE BETTER I THINK I HOPE I PRAY okay I need to go and get ready before I’m late to meet my girls (again) (for the millionth time) love peace joy xoxoxo etc.