Writers International Edition

Nouli Tsagaraki

I, who love you

In the publication of my previous article discussing “The right to be wrong”, a friend commented – “when I say be careful, I mean to stay safe because I care and I love you,” giving me the stimulus for today’s article.

Why, I wonder, do we say “be careful” to someone we love, instead of declaring “I love you!” Why do we choose to express our feelings indirectly instead of directly? Or does indirectness conceal a deeper and unseen truth?

Do we really need to warn an adult when they leave the house just to go to work? In other words, are we more interested in them than they are in themselves? Or does the “instructions manual” hide the opposite of what we think? Perhaps these instructions do not reflect the interest of the other human being, but the priority we give to ourselves. Come back safe and unhurt, not because you want to be with me, but because I want to be with you.

“What is the difference?” you might ask, ignoring that the devil is always hidden in little details. In reality – even if we do not acknowledge it – we reproduce behaviours we have experienced in our parental home. Where, in order to be loved, we had to “be careful” and avoid such behaviour that was not acceptable. “Be careful” so as to be loved! Otherwise, if you deviate, you force me to withdraw my love from you. Yet, this is not love at all. Let me remind you that the greatest crimes on the face of the earth have been committed and are still being committed in the name of love!

“I, who love you…” As if this statement alone works like an apology or an excuse for any kind of abuse.

Let us always keep in mind that love does not dominate, does not create commitments, does not need excuses, nor does it cause pain.

Love is supportive, substantial, and ever-present to the other’s needs. Love accepts others just as they are – imperfect! Love need not control or change anybody. On the contrary! Love is the oxygen of the soul, it revitalizes and nourishes.

Nevertheless, how will we manage to love anyone if we are unable to love ourselves first? To see and accept ourselves as we really are – imperfect?

In the journey of completion, the aid provided to us is the presence of other people. We like, accept, and love some of them and towards others, we develop the exact opposite feelings.

Unlike the former who reflect our good elements, the latter repels us precisely because they reflect our bad elements. Those elements that we would not like to have and which we unconsciously hide. Still, if we find the courage to “see” and then “accept” ourselves exactly as we are, then and only then, will we start to see others as they really are and not through our own distorting lenses. Only then will the process of acceptance and love begin. Because love without acceptance does not exist.

It is then and only then that our love is genuine, unconditional, free from boundaries, and based on trust, respect, devotion and forgiveness.

EVERY END IS A NEW BEGINNING: Article by Nouli Tsagaraki

“How are you?” I asked happily the acquaintance I met by chance.

“Don’t you see?” she replied sadly. Although I hadn’t seen her for a long time, she seemed well-groomed and elegant, as always. “I am wearing black clothes, I lost my husband” she added, while a tear was hovering in the corner of her eye… The smile faded at once from my lips. “Ah! We don’t see people! We look at them, but we don’t see them!” I got angry with myself. “Everything takes its time,” I finally stuttered, “and the loss, the most.” She looked at me so intensely that I shuddered. “I’m not used to it,” she muttered… I left with my thought hooked on her last sentence, wondering “how is it possible?”

How is it possible? Since loss is interwoven with humans and stars from the very moment of our birth! With a cry, we come to life. With a lament for the safety of the nest that we forcibly abandon. But who can imagine staying there forever! Safe, but doomed to eternal immobility. Like some decommissioned boats I see rotting in secluded moorages. But these have, at least, travelled before retiring. They fulfilled their purpose, they lived! Immobility, on the contrary, resembles death and then, what is the reason for our existence! Since life is a long journey into the unknown, a perpetual movement, a change of level!

Unfortunately, humans are easily comfortable, easily contented, and easily let themselves loose. So comes the loss which forces us to move on. To redefine the meaning of our lives. We are in need of meaning in order to feel good and that meaning is defined by our choices. Anything we choose and bond with, anything we love or value, gives value to our lives. And when we lose it…, it hurts! Along with the pain comes the mourning, which signifies – nothing more or less than – our process of adapting to the new situation.

If we think about it thoroughly, we will discover that our lives are connected to a series of losses, that occur without our even realizing it. “The loss, big or small, is always a death,” they say, but is it really? Or we have limited ourselves to this perspective? Because the unknown – the new situation in which we are forced to move to – scares us. As we have learned to associate it with the possibility of insurmountable obstacles, rather than developing skills that can lead us to higher levels. Regrettably, we are used to thinking of loss only as an end, never as a beginning. We have not yet consolidated that nothing, nothing at all, is stable, unchanging, eternal. That there is nothing we can essentially control. So, what all remains is to enjoy everything offered to us, for as long as we are here…

Or else, we have to wonder, are we really mourning for what we lost, or for what we didn’t allow ourselves to live?

Article by Nouli Tsagaraki
© Nouli Tsagaraki

About the author

Nouli Tsagaraki is a short story writer and chronicler, as well as a poetess. Her articles have been published in various magazines & blogs, while she maintains a stable cooperation with the Greek-language newspaper of Canada “Evdomada Greek Weekly News” & the web page “authoring melodies”. She has two collections of short stories to her credit, “One of us” & “Fire & Hope”, while she has participated in several publications in order to support vulnerable social groups. Recently she was elected executive secretary of the Panhellenic Writers’ Union.