I’ve never really been into love with a capital L. I eschew hearts – in necklaces, on sweatshirts, on greeting cards, in cookie form. I’ve always found girls who seek love or talk about love to be somehow silly, frivolous, unserious, unlikely to make a big impact in this world.

But a funny thing happens when you are utterly healed by love. Transformed. Not just romantic love and not just love directed at you, but every kind of love, including the love you have for others and yourself. Once you experience that kind of power, you see why people wear heart necklaces and bake heart cakes and collect heart-shaped rocks on hikes.

And of course the very notion of love has confused me for most of my life. As an ACoA, any love given came with other things. Shouting. Embarrassment. Secrets. Lies. Shame. Love from alcoholic parents didn’t feel super good. Didn’t feel transformative. Certainly didn’t lift me up to be my best. The love I knew growing up asked me to shove my needs aside, bury my feelings, deny my true self and people-please to not rock the otherwise very rocky boat that was a home with two alcoholic parents.

So it makes sense that I proudly turned my nose at heart things. At love things. But even in the loss of my dear dog Paco I see it: I loved him all the more because he helped me heal from a greater love lost when my English bulldog Oscar passed. And my remaining dog Stella is now the recipient of yet more love, as am I from her. And I love my chosen friends and family fiercely – which the sudden loss of Paco also made me revisit. I’ve been making plans to see all of them more. To love on them more. Our time together is so fleeting. And the love we have for one another—and ourselves—can truly heal. Can truly help us be the best versions of ourselves. So why the hell not celebrate love in all its forms?