Recently, after having a talk with my hanai mom, I started to think about parents who love their children unconditionally. No brainer, right? Alas, it is not always so. Some people are orphans in all but name, having lost, due to some perceived slight, the love of a parent — the one person (or people, since most of us have at least 2 parents) who is supposed to love you no matter what.
That’s what I used to think unconditional love was: “I will love you no matter what.” But when I thought about it some more, it occurred to me that our moms and dads, many of them just doing the best they can to grapple with their own emotional baggage, really do love us unconditionally — in the “love you no matter what” sense — even if it feels like they don’t. However, what some parents don’t know how to do is love us without conditions. Love with no strings attached. Love that says, “I will love you, period. With no expectations of receiving anything in return. With no caveats. I will love you ceaselessly, independent of who you are, what you do, or where you go in life. I will love you because of who you are, not in spite of who you are. Period. End of story.”
The no-strings-attached kind of love says, “I will make to assured of my love for you, no matter the time or distance that separates us. You do not need to make yourself worthy of my love. You do not have to earn my love. My love encompasses all of your being, past, present, and future, regardless of where you go or what you do. My love will carry on even if we are angry with each other, even if we hurt one another or loose sight of the reasons we loved each other in the first place. I. Love. You.”
That, I think, is how every one wants to be loved.
And if we don’t get it from the people who brought us into the world, well, then we go looking. In a recent post, I talked about how my life has come to be greatly enriched by the Hawaiian tradition of hanai family. I’m pretty easy with love, and as such, I have a tendency to collect family. You see, I’m the kind of person who loves easily and brazenly, with very little thought as to how or why. Case in point with the concept of “family”: once I love you, you’re in. You’re in for good. I’m going to love you forever, even if at some point we have a falling out and we don’t talk anymore and we never lay eyes on each other ever again — rest assured, I’m out there, still loving you. I will love you without conditions.
That’s the kind of love that makes us feel secure. The kind of love that says, you really can go home again. No one wants to walk through life with a sword over their head, worrying over the threat of a severed family tie resulting from some innocuous misstep. There are good reasons, surely, to sever the bonds of family, but how many times does it happen just because someone’s pride of injured, or because one person passes judgment on another? How many of us live our lives to a lesser degree in order to maintain a relationship with someone who loves us, but whose love comes with strings attached? How many of us, fearing reprisal, remain suspiciously silent?
The Real Sarah C. Project is me breaking my silence. This is me, loving my own self, without conditions. This quote from Marianne Williamson, passed on to me by my dearly departed mother, sums it up well: