Unconditional

How does love become unconditional? Or is love always unconditional? If you love with conditions, then is it really love?

For me, I know that I will love my family unconditionally. Despite how much I dislike mother and her … everything, I know that at the end of the day, I will still love her. If I could choose differently, I would, but I can’t. From the moment my niece was born, I loved her. Anybody who is tied to me by blood, I will love. Perhaps that’s based on the values of family that have been instilled in me since birth and as demonstrated by my family.

Then there comes the love that you have to create with others – with your friends, with your significant other. Can those be unconditional? Are they ever unconditional? Will I always love my friends no matter how we change throughout the years? Or do I get to pick and choose which ones to love? If I pick and choose, is it therefore now based on condition? What helps me define which friends I shall love unconditionally?

With a partner – I admit, I’ve said those “I love you”s to a few folks throughout my years. If I had to think about my feelings for the former beaus, I could probably tell you that I loved them once upon a time. But the conditions changed and I no longer could continue loving them.

As I am now older, I know I can change my definition of love. I would like to think that I love my current beau unconditionally. I’d like to think that unless this man were to begin to intentionally hurt me, I would still love him no matter what would transpire.

But how does this happen? Does this happen with time? Is there a marker during which you can finally say, “Yes, I love you unconditionally.” Or do you just wake up one day and realize that this is it? “That no matter what may happen, whether we are together or apart, I will always love you.”

This is also not to say that an unconditional love is always peachy. But it’s to imply that when big, rocky things happen, the love motivates for change, reconciliation, forgiveness, etc. That the love encourages us to stay together instead of apart. That when you love unconditionally, that you accept all – warts, farts, snores, bad habits, etc included.

So… how do you know? If there are deal breakers – do those count as conditions? Or are they just conditions for the relationship and not conditions for the love?

Just some thoughts on which to ponder…

Imminent

I feel like something terrible is coming and it’s all going to smash the world away from me. I feel as if there is a darkness that will come in full force and I am powerless to stop it. Even more so, I feel as if I have, and have had, the means to stop it and yet, I haven’t. It’s this constant dilemma – we are all our own people and are responsible for our actions and at the same time, I tell my clients that there are times in which we haven’t been able to do so.

How can you tell an anxious person to stop worrying? A depressed person to be happy? They all know that they should be happy. In a way, they know how to get there to be happy, and yet, that doesn’t happen.

And that’s me. I don’t know if I’m unhappy but I know that there are things I know I should do and yet, they are not done. And then I beat myself up for not having done them. It’s a terrible cycle and I’m terrified to wonder or find out if I will ever stop perpetuating this cycle.

Quality Over Quantity

I am learning – slowly – not to hoard. These were tendencies I picked up from mother who had lost everything in my family’s journey to the US after the Vietnam War and did what she could to be as resourceful as she could – just in case we would need it some day.

That’s what happened to me. I “collected” things because I’d need them some day and most importantly, were on sale, free, and/or gifts. I tried to part with many things as I tidied up my living spaces, but sometimes it was hard for me to get rid of things. The hardest were gifts from others. Not necessarily because I’d need them some day, but because I valued that they were gifts to me from another person. That someone else had taken the time to think of me and to select something that would be fitting of me. If I were to throw them out/donate/sell, I would feel as if I am disrespecting or dismissing their efforts and their time to build a relationship with me.

Then I had a “collection” of nostalgic items – items that held no other purpose except to remind me of how nice that person had been to me once upon a time. I had clothing, stuffed animals, trinkets, jewelry, etc that I hadn’t worn, read, or touched in a long time, if ever. But I kept them just for that nostalgic piece. How do I choose which nostalgic item to keep or not keep? What will be important to me? I don’t have a rubric to fall back on. Do I keep the gifted origami $20 bill or unfold it and spend it?

That collection grows. It grows to where I have so many pieces, I don’t know what to do with them all. Soon, I have the very unfortunate task of trimming, of deciding which I keep and which I don’t. What stays – what goes? How do I determine the quality of this item? How can I measure how much this item means to me? When can I look at it, cherish it, and say, “It is okay. You served me a great purpose once upon a time, but I have changed now and I don’t need you in the same way I once did and I know you can’t change with me. You are free to go.”

While I know that I must trim, must not hoard, it doesn’t hurt nonetheless to say goodbye to these items. But I can’t keep them. We’re too different now and that’s okay. It’s not about making room for other nostalgic items, mind you. I don’t remove things just to add more things – or I try not to – but it’s about determining the quality of my life. I need to evaluate if what’s in it at the moment is a right fit for me and if it is not, do what I must to make it so we can fit.

So thank you, birthday gift of 1999. You served me well and now you must find a new home.

Losing Weight

I came across a post the other day where a woman’s photo that was used to illustrate the effects of anorexia was misused in a “listicle” for photos of successful weight loss. There was a lot of commentary about how people who suffer from emotional dysregulation (e.g. depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, etc) are often “celebrated” for their good looks. They would often get comments such as, “Did you lose weight? You look great!” In reality, their weight loss was very unhealthy, yet still rewarded and showered with compliments on their “good looks.”

That got me to thinking about how one could approach another who has had a change in weight. Can you come from a place of concern? “I noticed you’ve lost/gained some weight recently, is everything okay?” Or can there be a neutral ground? “I’ve noticed you’ve lost/gained some weight recently, has something changed for you?” Or is there another way?

It’s definitely got me to reevaluate how I view others’ weight loss/gain. I can’t assume that others’ weight changes are done in a healthy manner. In order for me to stop rewarding or complimenting bad behaviors, I must reframe my commentary and/or not comment at all.

But for now, here are some examples of things I will not say:

“You’ve lost a lot of weight. You look great!”
“Please tell me how to fit into your pants!”
“You look so skinny!”
“Your face looks skinnier!”