Ukrainians don’t say, “I love you” to each other. We could love someone fiercely and yet still cringe when it comes to verbally expressing that emotion. I remember the first time my mom told me she loved me, I cringed so hard that I kind of just wanted to crawl into a corner somewhere and hide. It made me feel so exposed. “Why are you doing this to me?” I thought to myself. It was something she had picked up from her American client whom she is a caregiver for, and she thought it would be a really nice ‘Americanism’ to incorporate into our inner lifestyle. I dreaded it. Every time I had a phone conversation with her and we were nearing the end of the conversation, I kind of hated that inevitable moment when she would tell me she loves me. So many times I just quickly hung up without saying anything in response. Yet it never deterred her. She would also start out her texts to me (when she finally learned how to text) by bestowing a blessing on me and wishing me all the best that God could possibly give, and that was easier for me to handle because texting “I love you” back wasn’t as hard. I could hide behind my screen, after all.
Over the years, I slowly got used to my mom telling us she loves us when it was time to hang up the phone or when leaving the house. Honestly, it wasn’t until very long ago that I started telling her and my dad that I love them, and it took moving out and living on my own to be able to really respond in kind. Weirdly enough, I am actually happy that we didn’t grow up hearing those three words, “I love you” bandied about because it taught me what it really means to be able to utter those words to someone. Every time you say it, you expose your most vulnerable self—something that does not come easy to a Slavic person. I had to choose to be vulnerable and consciously tell my parents that I love them, and when I say it, I mean it with every particle of my being. Something tells me I wouldn’t mean it as deeply as I do if it was something I had cut my teeth on and took for granted.
I think one of the hardest things is to climb inside of your own pain and be okay. To accept it finally so that it no longer has so much power over you. It almost feels like climbing into bed with the enemy. You want to remain mad at society, at your culture, at your parents, your pastor, at God. We’d rather lash out and seek vengeance on what hurt us. But the only way to be free is to climb inside your own pain and forgive them all.
To those who care to read this post, I am going to take a bit of a break from my blog. I’ve been a little too attached to it since I started blogging again a few months ago. I just need to come up for air and clear the cobwebs a bit. With that said, I leave you with one of my favorite little poems. I wish I could take the credit for it, but alas, I didn’t write this beaut. But I wish I did.
And also, just a dash of sage advice:
Naps are important. Never forget.
I sharpen my teeth on all the words I keep from you,
rolling them to and fro in my mouth,
tasting every nuance,
so that even if they do escape
they are smooth as glossy pearls.
I cut my tongue when they gallop up my throat
demanding to be released
and I’ve no choice but to choke them back,
slicing my throat to ribbons on their descent, on every jagged crest and
But even in their wake,
I still bleed silver.
It has to be an unwritten law in the universe—the night before an eventful weekend, you just have to break out or get sick. In my case, I was puking and my head was spinning like a wayward top. Lovely.
In any case, I was able to rally enough to get out and join in on the adventures. How do they put it—come hell or high water, right?
Fall in the Pacific Northwest is gorgeous.
We were treated to the most stunning sunset. This photo was taken with an iPhone with no filters or editing applied.
Girls girls girls.
Sunday we attended a concert and got lucky enough to be able to meet (and in my case, hug) the singers!
All in all it was a successful weekend, I think.
You weave around me with the grace of a swordsman,
only your weapon of choice is your words.
What a lethal dance we engage in,
striking with focused precision,
sliding that unbearable hurt between my ribs with a lovers skill.
How beautifully I fall apart before you,
as you watch in silence with glittering,
Okay, this made me laugh. A parody of #selfie narcissism 😉