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Revelations: Don't take words you use for granted

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 4, 2013 at 5:04 a.m.

Jennifer Preyss

In the past week, I've had two significant people in my life use the following two phrases: "I love you" and "I'm sorry."

The comments, which are probably two of the most frequent phrases exchanged among loved ones, stemmed from two conversations about two entirely different subjects.

One of these people shared my DNA; the other did not.

While sitting in my weekly therapy session, which I'm pleased to say is continuing to go well after five months, I explained to my counselor that I was having trouble processing the two conversations, both of which contained the two phrases.

I confessed that I was bothered because in both cases the "I love you" and "I'm sorry" weren't used in proper context.

They weren't used the way I know God wants us to use them.

The phrase "I love you" was used, for example, to chide me for something so insignificant and unsexy, it was difficult to take this person's "concerns" seriously.

But I couldn't turn off the usage of "I love you."

As in, "I'm only telling you this because I love you."

The problem with this person using those three sacred words, I discovered, was that they had only uttered them twice in my lifetime.

So it wasn't a phrase I was comfortable hearing, and when it was thrown at me out of nowhere, I didn't feel loved.

I felt cheated.

I recalled all the times on the phone I would close our conversations with, "I love you," and they would never be able to say it in return.

And now, out of no where, this person was scolding me because they loved me. It didn't fit. It wasn't a good moment to hurl that phrase at me, a phrase that means something, a phrase exchanged between two people - whatever the relationship - to say at the very least, "I'm here for you," "You matter to me," and "You're important in my life."

Because until that moment, this person had not been there for me or made me feel like I mattered or was important.

There was no action behind that "I love you."

And like I said, I felt cheated.

A few days later, during another conversation, someone else used the phrase, "I'm sorry," to apologize for something definitely deserving of an apology.

Except their apology was hurried and seemingly - unapologetic. There was minimal eye contact and a buffet of excuses to explain the actions preceding the apology. There was no attempt to reconcile, make amends, find a resolution or ask forgiveness. There was just an empty, "I'm sorry."

I started thinking about all the times I've said, "I'm sorry" and didn't mean it, and all the occasions I've said, "I love you" to friends and family and took it for granted.

I started thinking about why the phrases are significant in modern language and why I should be more aware of how I use them.

I can tell someone all day long that I love them, or I'm sorry, but without action, the words are empty.

So, I'm thinking about that this week. And I hope, if only for a moment, you'll join me.

Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.

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