These days when I see or hear that word, I become weightless and warm, blanketed in its tender comfort.
I didn’t always.
The word “beloved” used to give me the feeling I’d lunched lavishly on a pound of princess-pink sugar and gotten up from the table sickened by the over-sweetness, craving a substantial meal. It would sometimes come to me garishly, covered in glitter on five-dollar paper Valentines – and go out with the trash on February 15th. Beloved. Even to a lover of lovely words like my English-major self, it sounded out of place in millennial times, except maybe when used in my university Shakespeare class, which only proved to me how this was as archaic and laden with melodrama as a single word could be. Reeking with over-the-top romanticism, “beloved” sounded like a promise so great it could only under-deliver. Who, in modern life and modern love is beloved?
Then I found out I was. I was beloved.
It was very late at night. I was deeply fatigued at that moment, standing there taking in more of his loveless words. I didn’t try to defend myself (I have my reasons) and I didn’t flinch. Nothing moved within me either, except for the faintest idea that maybe I had died on the inside. Then, like the maid-of-honor’s boyfriend tapping the best man’s shoulder to get a dance with his girl, my Truest Love cut in to woo me. Right there, in front of my husband.
You are loveable. I know because I made you. I love you. No one else can love you as I do. No one ever will.
Call me crazy if you like, but I heard those distinct words with my own heart. Yes, I was surprised. No, it wasn’t wishful thinking, nor my own intuition, nor indigestion. In an instant, I was protected from the verbal barbs and brought to compassion. Every human soul that ever claimed to love me was suddenly freed from my expectation to make me feel loved, especially the one standing before me. If no person this side of Heaven could love flawlessly, then I couldn’t either. I was suddenly flushed with assurance that my husband’s angry, degrading words were not intended for me, but for himself and I willed peace and healing for both of us. (If I’m beloved, he must be beloved too.)