July 4, 2023

How a Stack of Bath Towels taught me to Accept the Love I Deserve.

Nate and I met in January 2018.

We were both coming out of long marriages, mine being one where I didn’t feel liked, much less loved.

Nate is the love of my life and I am grateful everyday for him. Falling in love with him was easy and I was, and still am, repeatedly amazed that I could love someone so incredibly much. (Aside from my children, of course, in case they read this.)

But one of the biggest struggles I’ve had since meeting Nate is accepting his love for me. Five years later, I’m still working on that—self-worth is a constant journey!

Below is a journal entry I wrote and recently found that’s definitely worth sharing. A good lesson for noticing all the ways that we are loved:

December 17, 2020

A few months ago, I came into the bedroom and found Nate sitting on our bed with a laundry basket of clean towels. Next to him sat a pile of about three towels, already folded,. When he saw me he proudly held up the towel he was working on, demonstrated his technique, and asked, “Is this the way you do it?”

He looked at me expectantly, waiting for my appraisal.

Now, I am by no means a Martha Stewart or Martin Burney type (of “Sleeping with the Enemy”…quite sure these references age me!). By no means. But the one thing I pride myself on is my organization, which is so much more than just ordinary organization. It’s bordering on OCD organization: things have a place, and their “place” is balanced, square, even, exact, precise, and straight.

So towels, according to my ordered mind, should be folded in half, then equal-sized thirds, then folded in half again so that when they are stacked they form a precise, balanced, even towel tower. The edges are folded in so they look like fluffy rectangular pillows, stacks of neatly towering and perfectly formed fluffy pillows, and when I open my linen closet, these stacks bring calm and peace to my noisy brain, and that makes me happy. I know—it’s weird, but it works for me!

I looked down at Nate’s pile. The edges were spilling out and the “pillows” were not the same size, but they were stacked neatly and, more importantly, they were folded. Looking at his face, I saw that he had put an enormous amount of energy to try and get them just how I liked, and in that moment my heart swelled to bursting.

He had tried so hard, not because he was afraid to “do it wrong,” not because he was worried I’d be upset, not because he thinks my obsessive towel folding method is weird and he was making fun of me, but because he loves me so much he wanted to do something nice for me. He wanted to help me out, relieve some of my burden, and check off one of my “to-do” list items.

In that simple act, he showed me he loves me and respects me so much that he lovingly and voluntarily did something that does not matter to him one bit but that he knows really matters to me. I felt deeply loved and for a rare moment, I allowed myself to truly feel that love.

I kissed him and said, “It’s perfect.”

Tonight, as I was putting away my perfectly folded towels, I noticed two not-so-perfectly folded towels in one of the stacks on the shelf. For a brief moment I considered moving them to the top of the stack so they’d get used and I wouldn’t have to keep seeing the “imbalance” of them. But then I realized those were the ones Nate folded.

Somehow, in all the weeks that have passed since that loving gesture, these two had managed to not be used. Which is quite a miracle since Nick [my son] uses a new towel every day! In the next moment, I remembered the love in his face that day and I immediately decided that I would not move the towels. And from now on, every time I notice them (and I will notice them every time) I will remind myself just how much I am loved.

Because to be loved like this is so much better than the satisfaction of a perfectly square, balanced, and precise towel tower.


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