My mother comes off as a quiet lady to those who don’t know her. Married to a man – my father – who oozes charisma and charm in any room full of strangers, my mother is most comfortable being one of those people who is “behind the scenes,” if you will. She mostly just loathes being the center of attention, I think. Though my dad is a cool and collected man, his love, his affection, his passion is obvious; it’s loud. My mother is almost the exact opposite. And as a child, I didn’t understand the way she loved was quiet but fierce – like her. But even then I knew she loved me more than she can ever put into words, even though she doesn’t love loudly. And little did I know, that though I would take on some of my dad’s charisma in rooms full of strangers, I would grow up to love like my mother.
Vulnerability is still a weakness for me but I think I’m getting better at it. Real vulnerability – not sending texts at midnight to crushes in a half-drunk state. Or Facebook messaging your feelings or whatever infantile substitutes our generation plugs in the name of love and affection. No, I think real vulnerability means there is no room to save face, there is great possibility for hurt, but there is also great possibility and potential for something that could become love, if it isn’t already. And some people do this loudly – they emphatically don’t subscribe to any of “the rules” or care to be the one “in power,” or mind being the one who cares more, and texts first, and all the other insignificant details we’ve made so grandeur. Yes, some people love loudly and it’s perfectly wonderful. But some people don’t.
I used to be jealous of people who loved loudly, secretly, but jealous all the same. While a lot of people seemingly envied my detached demeanor, it came, or rather it oftentimes comes, at a heavy price. No one would ever mistake me for someone who cares too much, even when I have; even when I do. Because unlike those who love loudly, I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve. And even as I wrestle with this weakness that is vulnerability, I don’t know if I ever will be that person – the one who wears emotions on their sleeve – and I don’t think I have to be.
I think the world is big enough for those who love loudly and those who do not, and those somewhere in between. For those who don’t love loudly, we give love in the depth of our affection, not in the frequency. Our passion isn’t characterized by the volume in our voice when we’re fighting or yelling or crying; sometimes we remain silent because that’s the only way in the moment we know how to show love. And we don’t walk around with emotions on our sleeves not because they don’t exist, but because we believe they are sacred enough, not to have to share them with just anyone. But this doesn’t mean that our love is any less.
We love just as deeply and powerfully and passionately when we love. I promise you, we do. Sometimes it’s a love you’ll find in quiet glances and almost unnoticeable acts of love. Sometimes it’s a love we can only express with few words, soft words; words that garner their strength from a foundation that is paradoxically both fragile and firm. But mostly it’s a love that though is not loud, is always ferocious, ready to bear anything and everything for those who receive it, in a solitude that we offer to share. So never believe that a love that isn’t loud, is a love that isn’t there. For those who don’t love loudly, our love is quiet but fierce. And our love is always real.