Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sifting Through Life: Sometimes My Love is Conditional

NOTE:  I wrote this piece two years ago.  I never published it.

This past week has been thought provoking. I thought of not writing my thoughts down in the event that it will hurt some people.  I should know from reading countless articles that as a writer we can't control how people will react to the words that we write, but I care.  I care a lot about a variety of people in our life. We have butted heads over LGBT issues and the current political events shared by the media.

I care so much that at times I have held my tongue.  I have turned the other cheek.  I have accepted their opinion and moved forward.  Then there are times like now.  That I can't stand to read one more post by someone whose opinion is so far away from mine that it hurts.  Their ideas and opinions stir up emotion and anger deep within me.  My mind will ask my heart "what the fuck is wrong with people?"  How can they be so heartless, cruel, and inhumane? They lose their status as a human and become animalistic.  I don't see them through a "friend or family" lens anymore.  I see them with caution, unease, and disappointment. Social media has allowed us to witness a person's character, views, opinions and supportive nature with the hit of a like button.  We see so much more than we might want to.  Honestly, I don't want to see it anymore.  It's too much.  It is changing my view of some good people.

I have thought for some time about writing about this topic of unconditional love and how I don't believe it exists for most of our lives. I have to admit to myself that my love is conditional.  I believe my love, has been unconditional, a few times though.  At the meeting of each of our four kids.  That small window of time when they first entered this world.  So much love spilling from your soul that you can't imagine anything other than that moment. You don't see the trials or struggles that you may have in the future.  Your mind isn't privy to their character, their desires, thoughts, ideas, emotions, or cares. In that moment you just ARE.  No past or futute. Just NOW.

That newness of meeting and seeing each other with nothing but pure joy and happiness is unconditional love to me.  After this initial exchange, our relationship starts to grow.  We start to evolve and our lives are subjected to the world. We are influenced and sculpted into what our parents and society deem to be in our best interest. We start to learn that love is conditional.

I learned as a child that holding on to the belief that love is unconditional hurt. A child trusts with their whole heart until they learn not to. That trust and love did not always end with a feeling of acceptance, joy, friendship or togetherness. I found myself in situations of being abused and hurt by people, who I thought should love me unconditionally, love me enough to not hurt me, but they did hurt me: emotionally and physically. As an adult, I found this idea of unconditional love poisonous when spewed by the wrong person in the name of their justified cause or reasoning.

Isn't love LOVE?

I have to admit to myself that it is not. Love can be ugly. Ask the abused wife or husband.  Love can hurt. Ask the crying child, the gay child, the bullied kid. Love can deny. Ask your gay neighbor. Love can sting.  Ask yourself.

Love is conditional.

Love has two sides. We do things in the name of love all the time.

I will love you if...
My love is wide and open but...
You are wanted and excepted when...

Love from our parents, siblings, extended family, communities or church comes with conditions. We know how we feel when love is shared with us, but then we realize that not all love is the same. We receive and give love differently too. Putting my understanding of love under a microscope this past week has been interesting.

I know love is good. I don't deny it. I've been on the receiving end of love that hurts and love that feels good. I am learning that I give and receive love differently. This is why this week I have acknowledged to myself that my love is conditional. I cannot pretend that my love is the same for everyone, every situation, or that it is unconditional.

It simply is not.

What I do deny is that love is always the right venue to try to make your point.  Love is not one size fits all. We don't all respond to the word love equally. To some, the word hurts.  To others, it resonates joy and happiness. I think the most powerful influence we can have in regards to love is to think first of the other person.

My love is conditional.  It's my truth.  Maybe this is the stinging nettle of love. I am learning that a blanket of "love" thrown in the hopes that it covers all the hurt, opinions and pain can make you itch with frustration from a word that emotes a variety of feelings. This word creates a dichotomy of opinions and reactions.

There is a lot of hurt and anger in the world currently and with so much pain I see myself going back to basic principles of peace, charity, and mercy: my version of love.  I don't want to focus on the fear that terror and policy changes are creating.  For me, to better understand this love, I have had to tear it apart and get real and raw.

I am trying to not have conditions on my love but it's hard. This week my conditional love has been tested. I struggle because I was raised to believe that love is unconditional and yet my heart says that it is not.

I will continue to do my best to love those around me. Some of that love will be given unconditionally, but I know that most of it will be conditional.

P.S.  Is your love conditional or this just me?  I would love to hear your story or feedback on this topic. I believe that by sharing our thoughts with each other, we learn from each other. Love is a tricky word because it resonates differently with each person. We associate different feelings and meanings to this simple, yet important, word: LOVE.

My experience with love is different than yours and I would like to hear from you and how the word was created in your life. Is your love conditional? all encompassing? unconditional?  

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