Speaking your love language
Last Sunday evening found me sitting on the floor with my 17-year-old daughter, surrounded by mountains of photo scrapbooks, crying with laughter as well as embarrassment as I re-lived the experiences of my early adulthood with her.
Eager to plan a gap year before going on to uni, my daughter was keen to see photos of my gap year experiences, in the hope of gaining some inspiration for her own plans. Although my children know me to be a fun-loving kind-a mum, I don’t believe they ever think of me as anything other than their mum – and certainly not someone who used to be young and who actually had a life BC (before children). So, it was to my daughter’s great surprise and amusement when she discovered that there was more to me than meets the eye and that I had actually lived a fun and eventful life back in the day.
She was joyfully entertained by the (mostly ridiculous) photos of me working as a chalet girl in Austria and Switzerland; as a villa girl in Corsica; grape-picking in France; serving (and drinking) countless litres of beer as a bar maid in Germany; teaching English to school children in Spain (but mainly partying really hard); building boardwalks around a peninsula in southern Patagonia cut off from mainland Chile, whilst sleeping on the floor of an abandoned hut, with no hot water and cooking all our food over a fire; as well as living in a tent and working as a teacher in the Picos de Europa mountain range in Spain in a summer camp for school children, among other adventurous and memorable events I was fortunate enough to experience.
It was whilst reminiscing about a life that is now just a distant memory, that I had a sudden realisation that what really mattered to me back then is the same as what really matters to me now; what drives me and gives me pleasure in life is shared experiences.
The five love languages
There is a book you may have come across, by Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages”. It demonstrates how everyone has their own love language, and this explains how you give, receive and feel loved. It’s a useful thing to know because when you understand the love languages of the people close to you, you can then speak their language.
These love languages are: Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts.
My main love language is Quality Time, closely followed by Acts of Service, so it’s no surprise that creating and enjoying thoughtful shared experiences with the people I love is so important to me.
Speaking my love language
Looking through my gap year photos with my daughter made me realise that, although I really miss hugs, my freedom, social connection IRL and many other things whilst in lockdown right now, it is actually ‘shared experiences’ that I am missing most of all. I can’t speak my love language.
And although nowadays my experiences may not be quite as exciting as they perhaps were when I was 18 and living and working all over the world, I still, nevertheless enjoy a variety of experiences on a regular basis.
The experience of going to the theatre, the experience of going to an art exhibition, of having lunch with friends, of exploring a new city.
And I found myself lamenting the fact that lockdown has taken all those experiences away from us all at the moment.
But then it struck me.
I recognised that, despite lockdown, there are two things I could do in order to be able to speak my love language. Firstly, I could still view it as a ‘shared experience’, and secondly, I could get creative and invent Quality Time in an alternative way.
Ups and downs
Although this ‘shared experience’ of lockdown is different to the shared experiences that I had in mind for the past year, nevertheless, it is still something that we are all experiencing together, albeit not in close proximity to one another, and each with different circumstances and challenges. I expect you have all seen the quote, “We are all in the same storm, but we each have different boats.” For anyone trying to home-school young children whilst working, you have my full empathy. It’s hard enough with three teenage children!
But, just like the experiences from my younger years, there are ups and downs. What made all those experiences memorable, was that there were hard, lonely and challenging moments, alongside the fun and exciting times. Just like now. There are hard, challenging and lonely moments, alongside times of real joy and connection.
In figuring out how to create Quality Time a bit differently, I realised that I could just have conversations with people. In pre-Covid day to day life there simply wasn’t enough time to have proper in-depth chats with all my friends. Now, instead of going swimming or to an exercise class, I do a daily ‘walk and talk’. Even though I can’t see my friends in person, it has nevertheless meant that I have spent more time talking with them than ever before.
Appreciating the benefits
In the future, I think I will look back on the experiences of the past year and be surprised to find that I will have many fond memories, despite all the challenges and difficulties I have faced. And I will even miss a number of opportunities that this lockdown has presented to me. A calmer pace of life. Having more time. Enjoying a leisurely breakfast. Not rushing around. Being able to have lunch with my husband every day. Starting the day with ‘Yoga with Adriene’ (my new virtual best friend).
Looking through a different lens
Hence, I’ve decided that from now on and until the end of this winter lockdown, whenever that may be, I’m going to view it through a different lens, whilst also acknowledging how frustrating and hard it is. I am going to view it as a ‘shared experience’ and make the most of the things that I am currently taking for granted, that I will miss when all this is over.
Thus, I’ve figured out that I can speak my love language. It just took removing the lens I was looking through and replacing it with a different one, and then getting creative.
So, what’s your love language? And how might you view things differently and create innovative ways to speak that language until we can all be together again?
Do you have any questions?
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or would like to explore how coaching might be able to help you with mum guilt and being kind to yourself, just get in touch. I'm very happy to have a chat.
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