I drove out to my sisters yesterday, to do laundry and to spend the night, but also because she was having a small dinner party, and she asked me to help. One of her best friends just had a mass found in a lung. He had prostate cancer just about a year ago, and now this. So, my sister brought together a few couples that were best friends with this man and his wife to try to cheer him up.
I don’t know that it cheered him, but it distracted him from impending gloom. He hasn’t had a biopsy yet, so there’s a chance it won’t be as bad as a “mass in the lung” sounds.
I would call what my sister did, unconditional love, of her friends. She tried to be there for all of them. So they could support each other. She gave them the venue.
We sat around and talked. Her friends are becoming my friends. As we talked, we opened up. Told our stories. Stood by them. Laughed at them at times, laughed at ourselves, commiserated at times. It is what happens. Unconditional love doesn’t require perfection, it just requires acceptance.
It is the same with any friendship, right? For the friendship to develop, people have to share their stories, to relate, to let you in behind their wall. Intimacy only grows this way. I have had someone in my life who claims to be a friend, but will only share so much with me. Enough to concern me, not enough to either confirm or allay my fears. I would guess many of us have known people like that.
So what happens in that case? You back off, when you realize they don’t really want to be close. When the two-way communication, and sharing, and trust stops, the friendship often dies, or goes dormant. This backing off is often perceived as a condition for love. One friend is constantly trying to prove that I don’t love unconditionally. Why? To what end? To justify, after the fact, that they chose to put a wall up?
Does your backing off mean you don’t love them, unconditionally? Of course not. Unconditional love is just that. Unconditional. Do I accept someone who chooses to leave me out as they are? Yes. And I will let them be. Do I love them still? Of course.
It has nothing to do with whether or not I love anyone. I once told my son’s therapist (court ordered, when his father and I were getting divorced) that there was nothing my son could do to make me stop loving him. The therapist said, “Oh I am sure there are some things…” I said, “No. There are behaviors I would not support, or accept, but I would always love him.” The therapist looked at me and said, “You’re right. Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance are two different things.”
So, this is still true. I will always love my son, I will always love the friend who now chooses not to talk to me. I will be there for them, if they change their mind. I don’t hold a grudge. (Sometimes I wish I could, but I’ve never been able.)
I say a lot, “Love always and all ways”. That comes from Byron Katie, one of the greatest teachers I know. She teaches unconditional love, and acceptance of what is. So yes, I still love that way, even if someone shuts me out, or behaves in a way that is hurtful to me, or to themselves.
Love and light, to all.