When I was in elementary school, my Mom made me give valentines to everyone in my class. I hated it, because the valentines were so often used as weapons. The worst part of the day wasn't wondering whether a sparkly card would show up, maybe even with candy heart attached, from the right person. It never did, and I knew my place in the social hierarchy well enough not to wonder if it would. No, the worst part of the day was being mocked for who I sent valentines to - either for daring to send them to the popular kids, who were out of my league, or the assumption that I was "in love" with one of the other geeks because I had given a card to him. I became small inside, turned into a liar out of desperation. I denied that when I scribbled "love" on this card that I meant it, even though I had, from the bottom of my awkward, nerdy soul, never said that card hadn't been so bad to give, because at least the recipient treated me like a human being.
The idea of expressing love became something that was wrong, fraught with peril and full of unhappiness. The best thing to do was to simply shut up. To stay small inside, mock the idea of love, because that was safer.
The thing is that love, real love - and not just the romantic sort, although I certainly include that - isn't a weapon. It is a gift. Juliet tells Romeo:
"My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep: the more I give to thee
The more I have, for both are infinite."
This is what telling someone "I love you" should be like. It should fill you with love as well, not because they say "I love you" back, as wonderful and miraculous as that is, but because telling someone they are loved is the way that we fight against chaos and entropy. Expressing love, telling people that they are valued, appreciated, doesn't make us less, it makes us more. When we love, we become bigger on the inside.
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Celebrate. Choose a person that means something to you, who makes your life better, and say "I love you."