Does it need saying?
One of my favourite lines from Doctor Who is from series four, when Rose asks the Doctor the last thing he said, and he responds with “Rose Tyler”, she asks, “And how was that sentence going to end?”
The Doctor replies with, “Does it need saying?”
It’s not a favourite line for me because it conjures up slight warmth. It’s not because it gives you the knowledge that the Doctor said those three difficult words, and it’s not because it confirms to us that the uncomfortable silence we felt has disappeared. It’s because it’s a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking few words that makes us realise how important those three words might be.
“Does it need saying?” is a line that has found its way into my vocabulary. I’ve caught myself, on occasion, saying that to Nick, because the reasons I did x and y don’t need saying. In both of our hearts, we know that, and we know why.
But when I think of how difficult it was to tell someone I loved someone, for the first time, it took me all of twenty minutes and shaking and a torn up piece of paper, but it was something that I needed to say. It was returned from the other person in the swiftest fashion, without discomfort, and I felt embarrassed that it had been so difficult for me. It made me wonder whether I meant it if it was so hard to say. At the same time, the words had made themselves known to that person. They understood.
One of the most emotionally painful times I had been through was to say the words and never have them said back. I was returned with a hug, a kiss on my forehead – but the more I let the words spill into the hands of that person, the more my unrequited love was returned with a shoulder pat, a cold and empty sigh, or something not as demeaning – but enough to make me wish I had swallowed the words instead. The physical contact was something I misinterpreted, and my realisation was enough to make me retrace my steps.
When I think of my previous long-term relationship, I remember that the words seeped into the relationship after a while. We said it at every opportunity we had. We made sure we said it every time we parted ways. Every last message before going to bed. We said it so much that we forgot. And by the time one of us forgot, “I love you” had become a chore.
It had become a necessity for the relationship. It became something that convinced me that everything was fine. And eventually, it disappeared from regular conversations. In my mind, I didn’t think that anything was wrong. I convinced myself that it didn’t need to be said, because I was caught in the mindset that it simply didn’t need to be. The feelings were there. But as the days slipped by when I would only receive a goodnight message, as days went by where the words disappeared, so began the days that those feelings began to dissipate, as things began to slowly fray.
Over years, I had convinced myself that such words of affection were not necessary, perhaps because the kind of affection I received was not correlated to how many times the three words were said. Unhappy without knowing it, I became used to the small amount of exchanged affection.
I say to Nick now, “Does it need saying?” because, in conversation, it feels alright to say.
At the same time, I say it anyway. I say those three words. I say them, and I mean them. I need to say them, and it’s not like that kind of exploding need to throw up the words like the first time I said them to someone.
It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from the heart, and it emanates in those words. That’s what love feels like. Contrary to how I’ve felt in the past, contrary to how logical it sounds to have actions speak louder than words – it feels like saying it is never enough. That’s how it should feel like. Love is quiet, but it’s not so quiet as to mean that saying “I love you” is worthless or cliche or overused.
I’ll walk in and out of the room just to tell Nick I love him. We’ll sit there in silence, and one of us will say it because no matter how much love is in the air, or how much space is between our hands and fingers (usually none), or the fact that we said it two minutes ago, yes. Yes, it does need saying.
For all the times I was blind and didn’t see the signs. For all the times one of us may have doubted the other, for whatever reason. We might not have been together if it was never said.
Does it need saying? Yes. In a world where physical signs of affection hold vague understanding and strewed misconceptions, in a world where the physical does not often correlate to the emotional – no matter how many times your hand is held, or you are hugged, kissed, or written love letters to – yes, “I love you” does need saying.