I’ll take that one step further and say that UNCONDITIONAL Love is the choice. If it’s not unconditional, it’s not really love. It’s the unconditional part that buries us. We live in a disposable culture, if it’s not convenient, easy, and cheap we don’t want it..unless it’s designer. That may work in retail but what about in friendships, marriage, families? It’s a tough one because love isn’t always black and white… either,or. There are a million shades of gray with a zillion reasons for bailing. It’s about comfort isn’t it? Not wanting to be uncomfortable?
I heard a man sharing today about deciding to ask his twenty year old son to move out and find a place of his own. It was obvious he loved his son very much and it was a painful decision. This wasn’t a punishment, he made the choice because he wanted to be a better dad. He knew if he let his son stay at home, he would never learn what he needed to. This dad also admitted that he was part of the reason his son wasn’t living up to his potential and he made the choice because it was best for his son. How brave that dad was, to risk the possible loss of his son’s love.
Loving someone no matter what isn’t always about the touchy-feely stuff we see on Hallmark. I love the term “tough love” because it sums up what it’s like. It is the hardest thing you will ever be called to do and it is excruciating uncomfortable at times. I really never knew what unconditional love was until I had my first child. It was never modeled in my family so I had no way of identifying it. I wanted to raise my children differently, so I got into therapy. I realized that I only knew what not to do instead of what I needed to replace it with. One of the most valuable things I learned was that my children were not put into my life to fix things with my parents, or anything for that matter. My children didn’t have to make up for anything. They deserved to be special in their own right. I treasure them.
When my daughter was born I had a whole script worked out in my head, what our relationship would be like, what she would be like. Thankfully for my daughter I got help before I could do too much damage. She turned every expectation I had on it’s ear and I learned she was to teach me and not the other way around. She taught me what it was to be a child. I never got to be one in my family. I learned patience, forgiveness, compassion and ultimately acceptance from her. Acceptance that my daughter was her own person and not a clone to redo my fractured relationship with my mom. It was what it was and I didn’t need to sacrifice my daughter, or myself for that matter, at it’s altar. I had to grow up.
It’s easy to love someone on the surface, and to even say the words. But what if they hurt you? Disappointed you over and over? What if they abuse you or emotionally abandon you? What if they blame you for things they don’t want to look at? What if?
My children, former husband and my Fairy Godmothers were my greatest teachers and helped put this broken soul back together. They made me want to be a better human being, something I strive for everyday. I’m not always successful but I TRY.
I don’t have to necessarily like the people I choose to love unconditionally. Sometimes it isn’t possible. Forgiveness is the result.
I wish I could say it came easy but it didn’t. Lots and lots of anger, rage, sadness and grief for a long time. I went through all the stages of someone dying. It all came back to that broken little girl, that sweet baby who felt from the moment she was conceived… she was alone. I still struggle with that wounded part of me, it comes out either in too much self-confidence…or not enough. When my marriage ended I discovered bags and bags of emotional debris and insecurities that I had covered up with… well, marriage.
I am feeling grateful today. I am finally growing into my own skin. I am living one day at a time and trying not to scare myself by guessing the future. I have already proven that I truly do HATE working retail and I intend to never have to do it again. It is purgatory and hell rolled into one, and the pay is an insult.
So on this Thanksgiving week of Black Friday insanity, be extra kind and patient to the person waiting on you. They hate retail too. The other night I asked an elderly gentlemen (shopping with his wife) if I could help him, he leaned in and twinkled “Yes, can you help me get my wife out of here”?! They were married 67 unconditional years.
Thursday starts my holiday movie countdown. I will do short journal entries on one movie choice a day. I’m getting excited about the holidays, I’ve decided to lighten up. It’s time.