This is a letter in my series where I write to common emotions in my life.
I am begrudgingly writing this letter to you. Everyone one writes to you or about you. Everyone likes to pontificate on your meaning and this and that.
Wait a minute, do you get tired of their emotional pontifications too? Do you get frustrated when people proclaim their love when it’s really a traumatic attachment style causing them to behave in unhealthy ways?
Now I sound like a cynic. You must get tired of that end of the spectrum too. People either looooooveee you, or they really hate you and doubt you.
In defense of humans though, you’re pretty damn confusing. People even break you down into parts: platonic love, romantic love, familial love, etc. As if that will make it anymore clear.
Let’s face it, you show up differently for all of us. I have members of my family that think they loved with every ounce of their being. And meanwhile, I have other family members who feel like they weren’t sufficiently loved by that person.
I think they’re actually both right. One really did try their best. They didn’t understand how to tailor their love to the other. How to listen to what the other was needing and adapt their love to that. And yet, neither can really see that. They’re both left feeling frustrated and unseen. Rather sad.
I’ve even had my own brush ups with you (ok, you know it’s way more than a few brush ups … but let’s not get into the weeds right now). Do you remember when I dated that guy and after we had been dating a year, he told me he felt I was self-centered because I didn’t offer him a drink whenever he came over? Good lord that one hurt. I could see it from his perspective and felt genuinely bad. At the same time though, complete love for me is letting someone into my home and letting what is mine be theirs. So when my sister unabashedly raids my chocolate stash without even asking me - that is pure love to me. I love that she feels comfortable enough to do that. I miss the days when I could go home and raid my mom’s fridge for whatever I wanted to eat.
So I somehow thought that someone who felt truly loved would know they could open my fridge and drink whatever the hell they wanted and that was better than having to wait to be offered something. I saw the gap though. He wanted to be thought of. He wanted me to be mindful of his needs. I apologized and changed my behavior. However, he didn’t offer me that same understanding. I remained self-centered in his eyes.
That felt unfair. Though it was also endemic to the deeper issues at hand that eventually led to our break up.
I tried really hard in that relationship. I wonder if I will always have to try so hard at love, or if it will feel more natural. That my style of love will click with another’s.
Which brings me to unconditional love. Do you loathe that term as much as I do? It doesn’t actually exist. Even Christ, the supposed purveyor of unconditional love had his sacrifice come with conditions. In order to be saved from damnation, you have to believe that he died on the cross for your salvation. That is a condition.
When humans strive for “unconditional” love, it always ends up deeply unhealthy and messy. No boundaries. Lots of sacrifice. Misery. Putting up with all sorts of horrible behavior all in the name of “love.”
That’s not love. That’s unhealthy patterns coming into the present.
Anyways, I’m sure if anyone else were to read this letter, they’d think I’m back in the grounds of cynic now. But you get what I’m saying right?
Why can’t we just let you be you? Why can’t we let you be flexible and know that our relationship and understanding of you will grow with time and experience? And that it can also be different depending on whatever we’re relating to. I love my soft sheets on my bed. Is that love any less pure because it is not a living, being creature?
Maybe what we need to do is free you. Stop making demands. Let our own love flow naturally. When differences arise, as they will, we communicate them.
Alright, I know that’s a pretty idyllic world, but I think it’s possible for those we care most about.
I’ll be eagerly awaiting your reply to all of my random thoughts.
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