A jug full of lemon juice. I grew up being greeted with lemon juice after hot school days. Pondicherry, a coastal town made for unusually warm summers and winter days were lukewarm. I always looked at the jug on the table and wondered how much was left, how many glasses it could fill. I began to get good at this and I knew exactly how much to pour to make sure everyone had their share of lemon juice. Math transfers sharing and social skills, I’ll delve into this insight on another day. As a young adult though, I use the lemon juice jug as an analogy for love.

My teenage self believed that love was finite. I had a jug in my heart and I would pour out measured amounts to everyone who mattered. Perhaps sometimes, our capacities for love need to be measured. In measuring we allow ourselves to set healthy boundaries. We begin to realize sometimes, our juice jug needs a refill, maybe there is not enough for ourselves and sometimes, we offer the last cup to someone who really needs it.

How did my teenage self use the lemon juice jug? I tried to make sure everyone had a share of the lemon juice, even when I knew I might have needed some for myself. Was this allowed? Yes, I did not learn how to care for myself, my form of self-care was an extension of everyone I knew. Hold gentle forgiveness for the ways in which you expressed love, you are allowed to look back and understand that you were growing to be who you are today.

As a young adult, I slowly realize that the people who matter to me would want me to save juice for myself. I learnt that I am allowed to pour myself a cup of love, a glass of lemon juice, because I then find the strength to pour for everyone else too.

I extend this jug analogy. I have heard of how some of us describe relationships as draining because they seem to give and give over again. They find it difficult to receive, or perhaps there is no reciprocation. Jugs are limited. You know there is enough juice for a couple of people. I think what love does, in every form, is help you cut lemons, squeeze lemons for more juice, bring the salt and sugar, and assists to pass it around with you. Being loved, I am beginning to learn, in many ways extends our own access to love.

Do we love in measured capacities? Perhaps we do love in finite ways, it is allowed. Our lemon juice jars can only have enough for a few, on days. What happens when we are loved, our jugs expand, there are people to help you make juice and pour you a glass, too.