New Year’s Resolutions are shit. Time is a fallacy.
Dedicate yourself to changing your life whenever you feel like it or whenever someone you love or trust intervenes. I’m much more responsible with break up resolutions — resolutions made upon the self-reflection that comes with the ending of a relationship. There isn’t a much more powerful intervention. For me, I’m more introspective after breakups than I am at 11:45pm on December 31.
This break up, I’m resolving to write more love notes.
During one of my infrequent snaps of organization when I mustered seven minutes of energy to clean my apartment, I discovered, among things I should have already thrown away, a love note. A note from a lover I haven’t seen or spoken to in years. She had written it for Valentine’s Day and it probably accompanied some toy or tickets.
I didn’t read the entire note, but I read enough to know how it had kept its place for two years and counting through past fits of spring cleaning, rediscovered and then forgotten again underneath cables, keyboards, and mini-staplers in a junk draw.
I’m not going to call her or message her. Reading her words didn’t change the love I have for her, which since our relationship ended has evolved into a love and respect reserved for happy memories, but in that moment it did change the love I had for myself.
In the early days after a relationship ends, I’m usually battling with myself, thinking about all the things I think I deserve in a relationship, how my ex-partner and I disappointed each other, and I’m hating my mistakes and wishing things had been different.
In that moment when I feel alone, bitter, unloved, and undeserving, it was a beautiful surprise and a needed reminder to read that I had loved once and someone thought I was worth writing to.
Hence my resolution. I don’t know how many relationships I’ll have in the future or how long they will last, but I’d love to provide an ex-lover a piece of solace like I found in an out-of-mind desk drawer.
I’ve never written a love note. I had trouble writing my mother a letter from Christian camp despite heavy encouragement from counselors. If there are two places in this world where you should have a reverence for writing your mother a letter to tell her you love her, it’s Christian camp and prison. Understandably so, because at one you long for connection with the outside world, phone calls are a luxury only available to a precious few, and the pressure of conversion surrounds you, and the other is prison.
Maybe I never thought writing love notes was an important part of showing love as a modern masculine lover. It’s a show of love that I appreciate when received and appreciate more when I’m feeling low. But I never thought it was part of my responsibility for showing love.
I most often demonstrate my love by providing and gift giving. It’s something I can do because I have a job that pays me well. And it makes me happy! It makes me feel good to shop with a partner for a new winter coat because it’s cold and she needs it and maybe she’s unable to buy it for herself, or even if it’s just because she’ll look great in it and why not spoil her.
While providing is still a great way to show love, I think I hid myself there.
I don’t say “I love you” often and I write it less. But I’m starting to realize that saying “I love you” and writing “I love you” takes practice. It takes practice to take the extra step and say or write “I love you,” instead of thinking it in your mind or thinking, “she knows I love her.” That kind of vulnerability takes some getting used to.
I stress over writing just about everything—emails, short stories, to-do lists, and this piece that you are reading right now. I worry that I will not accurately or truthfully convey the thoughts in my head or that the wording will be clumsy and embarrassing. I get wrapped up in thinking that it must be perfect.
Now I realize an imperfect love letter that still has all that charming old-school Sunday kind of love would be more than the perfect unwritten one.