Words We Cannot Say

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I’d explore a concept we don’t talk much about. Love. What comes to mind when you hear the word? Hallmark, Amazon and 1-800-flowers would hope that cupids and red roses and chocolate are somewhere in the mix. A recent story I read compelled me to look at love differently, from an honest and often hidden perspective. It centers on how we express love in the normal course. Can name a few ways that you do?  A pic from one of the ways I express love – talking about my fav topic transition – is below.

Speaking about transition – one of my truest loves – at the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum February 2019

The story I’m referring to is Viet Thanh Nguyen’s piece in the New York Times entitled, “The Three Words We Cannot Say.,” He is an author and columnist who commented on Sandra Oh’s Golden Globe acceptance speech for her role in Killing Eve.

As she clutched her award, Ms. Oh said “I love you,” in Korean to her parents who were seated nearby.

The piece was all about those three words and how deeply meaningful it was for Ms. Oh to say them to her parents. Nguyen reveals that Asian immigrant and refugee households rarely say the words, I love you. “Struggle and sacrifice is how Asian parents say I love you” said Nguyen (NYTimes, Three Words, 1/13/2019).  Children “are expected to express love through gratitude, which means obeying our parents and following their wishes for how we should live our lives.” (Three Words) Nguyen goes on to say that, “love’s strongest expression is captured by a child becoming ‘a model minority,’ an engineer, a lawyer, or a doctor.”  (Three Words)

These expressions of love are powerful. And wordless.

How would you characterize your love’s expression?

Nguyen’s description of love as sacrifice rang true for me even though I am a 4th generation American with an Italian last name that conjures thoughts of the Cinque Terre or lobster raviolis. I grew up in the 1970’s with a generation of parents whose singular focus was, ‘to educate the kids.’ Far from refugees, my parents both had college degrees in science; my dad held several US patents and my mom taught nursing at the college level.  Even with this established backdrop, sacrifice as an expression of love rings true for me.

I wonder if sacrifice and love intersect because of something to do with gender or generations or families or even our American culture? I am not sure.

What is important here is not whether your expression of love aligns with a sacrificial model or not. What is important is that we take the opportunity to recognize ‘how’ we express love.  And to whom?

Tell me, is your name on the list?

Transition has reminded me again and again about how difficult it can be to love ourselves. To fiercely accept who we are – in every situation, in every context.  Fierce acceptance is the courage to be who we are in our entirety; ‘model’ or not.

Here is one thing I am absolutely sure of: you are loved. For who you are. Not only when you get back down to a size 2, or when you land your next promotion, or when you can count on the loving gaze of another.  You are loved – today – in all of your entirety. Without exception.

This Valentine’s Day, I hope that the truest expression of love that you recognize is your own heart’s bold embrace of all that you are. Who knows. Maybe this recognition will even be accompanied by a few words we typically cannot say to ourselves.

With love,

Linda (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)


Have a few more minutes?  Here are February posts from Novofemina’s archives:

Painful Redirects 2015

Valentine’s Day & Transition: A Common Link 2012


Copyright © 2019 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

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