Learning to Feel Love Without it Being Right Next to You
When my eight-year-old son is with me, I feel the love and his nearness. I wrap my arm around him and hold him close to me. Whenever he leaves to go to his mom, I notice I start to feel (seemingly) unloved and alone. Sometimes even ashamed. Like I did something wrong.
Since I have to share him with my ex-wife, I sometimes get confronted by the fleeting feeling of being loved and loving someone. Everything inside me just wants to keep him next to me and forever hold him.
I know that this wish is not realistic and we have to let go on many occasions in our lives. When he will eventually grow up, he will have his own friends and his own activities. Just like I don’t constantly hang around my parents, he will not constantly hang around me. I’m trying to deal with this fact that life is handing me right now: love will not constantly express itself as being right next to you.
What I am writing here goes for everyone that you miss. Some people miss their partner whenever they are not with them. Some people miss their friends when they are by themselves. I hope this will allow you to feel the love even when there is a (temporary) distance.
So What Did I Do?
Confronted by how I was swayed between feeling loved and unloved, I started just noticing what was happening inside me. Whenever he was with me, I felt the love. At first, I focused on whatever I saw on the outside. You know, the warmth of his skin. The nice smell (or not) that children have. The twinkle in their eyes. The soft hair. Those cute children’s clothing.
Then, I focused on other things about him. I noticed how he told me a story about something that happened that day. I noticed his eagerness to tell it to me whenever I would pick him up from school. I noticed how he would look at me with a loving look. I clearly heard the words when he says “I love you, Dad”. I focused more on his energy. His love. These were not physical things, but love in its purest form.
Before, whenever I would miss him I would usually focus on the things that weren’t there. The physical things. His little hands. Holding him next to me. Focussing on these things gave me a feeling of being alone and unloved.
Now, I try to focus on the other things: the love he shows me when we are together. The energy that he carries with him. Whenever he is not with me I try not to focus on the physical things I miss about him. I try to focus on how his love feels. Also, I focus on how my love feels towards him. My caring for him is not gone when he is not around. It is still present and I can feel it. I love that I feel it. It tells me there is someone to love and I have the tools to love so intensely.
Thát Love Does Not Leave
I noticed that whenever I think about those non-physical aspects of love, those aspects are present. On the days he is not with me, I know that what I feel is love towards him. Even when he is not here, I know the love is still present.
Even knowing all this, I would still want him to be with me 24/7. But I’m trying to feel more instead of thinking more. This helps me feel the love even when there is a temporary distance. It is something you have to try and practice if you are someone who can quickly feel lonely.
Especially when you have felt neglected in the past, these feelings of loneliness can feel like a judgment: that you are not good enough and the love has again disappeared. Feeling those feelings can be hard and I hope this example can help you feel the continuity of that love even when it is not present physically for a moment.
I hope for you (and for me) that the intrinsic feeling of love can carry you through the days without them and make you love even more on the days you do spend together.
Knowing that the love is still there can also help to spend your days doing things that are good for you instead of being overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness.
I hope this helps.