A new word has slipped into mum’s vocabulary these past months when she is talking to me. The word is “unconditionally”. In birthday cards, at the end of phone calls or over a cup of tea mum wants me to know that she loves me unconditionally. It’s taken 46 years for that message to be conveyed in a way that I understand it. For so long I always felt there was something not quite good enough. Yes, I knew without a doubt that she loved me, and she showed me this all my life. However, sometimes as a child I felt it was with conditions:
- aim for a better grade next term
- why can’t you behave like…
- here’s what you need to do
- if xxx can do it – why can’t you?
The underlying message here is that I wasn’t quite there yet. I understand that mum was only doing the best she knew how at the time. I love her for trying and most of all for caring. Now, as an adult, I wonder how much those childhood experiences instilled in me a sense of thinking “when I do xxx it will be better” or “once xxx happens I will be happy”. In fact, who I am and what I do right now is actually good enough. All I have is this moment in time, and that is enough.
Conditions smother communication. Conditions can cast a shadow over what is a genuine attempt at love. Sometimes I would spend my time waiting to hear the “but”. Waiting for the but meant I missed a lot of what was actually being said. Like a commuter waiting for a train, I knew the but was coming. Ironically, the key to loving unconditionally is not to say much. To simply listen. I don’t need to be saved, or to have my problems solved. I’ve got enough life experience now to figure that out for myself. Just listen.
I also want to act in an unconditional way. To do things without expecting outcomes. To act without agenda. Only then am I truly open to myself – the experience of “me”. If I am honest, I have to say there have been times where I have done certain things expecting it will produce a particular outcome for me. When this hasn’t happenned I have felt hurt or upset. Doing a good deed does not equal unconditional love if you expect some kind of behaviour or action in return. Unconditional doesn’t have a reply address listed on the envelope xx