This post is written as part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS) writing prompt by Linda G. Hill. For complete instructions please visit her page
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All or Nothing
There’s an old jazz song that gets sung at open mic night fairly often, called “All Of Me” by Billie Holliday. The chorus is:
“All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you”
The singer laments, take my lips, take my arms, you took the part that was my heart, why not take all of me?
All, or nothing….Take all of me, or none of me. Which is how a relationship should be. You take the whole person. You can’t just take the parts that you like. A lover once told me there were many things he loved about me, but he hated my temper. Now, I can have a temper. It’s slow to rise, but when it does it’s like an explosion. The dust settles pretty quickly, though, and it’s over. I can’t hold a grudge. The point is though, that as a lover, I need all of me to be taken. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. All. Or take nothing, and let me go.
To be completely accepted by someone is rare. I can think of friendships I have with so many people whom I like, except for “blah blah blah”. However, I guess I accept those things, because we are still friends, even though some things make me crazy. Their good qualities always outweigh the ones that bug me. Friendship means a lot to me, so I take all of them.
In love….I also take all of my partner. Until I can’t. I’ll try and try. But I won’t, any longer, keep trying when the behavior I can’t accept begins to hurt me. All of them, or nothing. And they need to take all of me, or nothing. When you can work out the parts that bug you, between the two of you, it’s possible to find a way to take all of someone, even if you don’t quite find yourself on the same page.
All or nothing. It’s a boundary too. It says if you can’t take all of me, then you get none of me. And if I can’t take all of you, then I don’t want any of you. Compromising on that can only lead to heartache. At least in romantic, committed love. In a friendship, it’s easier. If my friend is behaving in ways I can barely tolerate, I can take a few days and stay away from them. The unacceptable behavior then fades, as I remember how important their friendship is to me. But love, romantic love, I believe has to be all or nothing, or it will never last.
Unconditional love is different than romantic love. It says, I love all people and want the best for everyone. Like the Buddhist Metta prayer, May all people be happy. May all people be free from suffering. Unconditional love. I can feel that even for people who have hurt me to the core. They say that if you believe in unconditional love, which for me is who I strive to be, that you don’t get to pick and choose who you love. If you do, it’s not unconditional. All, or nothing. Everyone, or no one.
Romantic love requires that all or nothing love in a very intimate, personal way. Unconditional love of everyone, requires it in a very broad way. One is reaching inside ourselves. One is extending as far out as possible. All or nothing. A thought-provoking writing prompt.