Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

What do you really mean when you say “I love you” ?


Eden by Donna Williams “Love ya”… It’s a throw away line that anyone can perform. Anyone can say it but living it, that is different. If you use ‘I love you’ as a public advertisement, a facade, a flag wave, a smoke screen, a cop out, a throw away line, a crutch, a habit, a guilt trip, a filler, then saying it is not ‘better than nothing. In fact, even the silence may be more honest, more honoring, more respectful.

It is ok to have had a friend, a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent or grandparent you couldn’t actually really like, let alone actually love. Maybe its because you have no capacity to understand each other at any real level, or because you grew up attachment disordered, or because you are already so involved with your addictions or trauma or baggage or mental or physical health issues you just haven’t found the resources to be truly present, available or ready to connect healthily with any depth. Maybe its because you just can’t juggle loving everyone in your life or you are just not open hearted by nature so you are lucky to have the capacity to love anyone. Maybe its because you don’t yet know who you are so there is no ‘you’ yet from which this love is meant to flow, or maybe because you are too fragmented to love as one cohesive person yet, or because you have not yet build the capacity to even healthily love yourself so are not yet ready or able to do so broadly with others just because you feel ‘you should’.

Remember that we do all deserve love, actual love, honest love, so if there’s someone you don’t actually, honestly love, just ensure you at least don’t bullshit yourself or them that you do. The only thing you owe them is to set them free to be loved by those who can actually, honestly and healthily love them. And doing that IS an act of , humanity, dignity, respect, and kindness.

Before you say ‘I love you’, learn to honestly sit in the midst of your own bared truth of past and of present, and find that you can, without bravado, actually love all you were and are… then, when you have done that journey don’t go to all you’ve harmed and slather them with empty ‘I love you’. If you never honestly looked at yourself then you have never yet honestly looked at those you harmed, all you made them, all they made of themselves.

Saying, shouting ‘I love you’ without having done the journey will not earn you the self forgiveness you are looking for. Instead, take time to sit back and contemplate. You may even decide that when you do finally have the self honesty and courage to face up, to own up, to get it, that the most respectful way to honor those you’ve harmed is not with the same words you used to harm, but to respect that they walked their own path, with their own scars and their own healing and leave them to continue that in peace.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist,and presenter.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.

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