Thoughts on Unconditional Love

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.

 

 

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A Grateful Start to the Day

I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in days, slept 8 hours and that’s a real feat for me. I suppose the 3 glasses of wine I had while sitting outside with my sister and one of her friends in the evening really helped me to relax. It’s so awesome, to be celebrating TG here. I know, that’s very redundant. I’ve been talking about it for weeks, I think. But each day, I am grateful again as the feeling washes over me.

I made it to the town dock for sunrise this morning. It did not disappoint. Oddly, no one else was there. Perhaps because it’s a holiday, everyone is busy with cooking and planning and getting things ready. It’s slightly warmer here than where I live. And I only life about 30 miles north as the crow flies. But the temps this morning were in the low 60’s instead of high 50’s and it’s supposed to get to the low 80’s. These are some pictures.

I was kind of grateful that no one else was there this morning. It allowed me to do a bit of meditation. To kind of slide into the spirit of the day, the spirit of gratitude. I read these words by Anne Lamott a few days ago on her FB page, and I so loved them. This is a copy and paste of the short post. I think it’s fitting for today. My heart is full of gratitude that my life has turned out the way it has, so far.

” We pray to be mindful of the needs of others. We savor these moments out of time, when we are conscious of love’s presence, of Someone’s great abiding generosity to our dear and motley family, these holy moments of gratitude. And that is grace.”

I hope everyone has a wonderful day, with family and friends. Love and light to all.

A Feeling of Wonder

I’ve been for hours, to an outdoor brunch with music, which was supposed to end at 2, but actually we stayed much later. My friend Beth sang, with the guy who was playing for it, as did a couple other people. Another buy brought his bass and played the whole second two hours with the man on guitar. It’s fun to go with Beth, because she is at the center of the music community here and knows everyone. She’s lived here for 28 years.

After the guitarist was done at 2, all the musicians who had taken part in the mornings brunch music, came to our table. Some of them were collaborating on songs for another venue, some were just talking, they were hungry, lol. It was really fun to hang out with them all. They are all about my age, and we all like the same kind of music. I am not well versed, but I’m getting an education, lol. They include me so much.

I had met a man who sang old kind of crooner songs, from the Frank Sinatra genre, the other night. We talked for so long today. He is from NYC. Everyone is talking about Bob Dylan getting the Nobel Prize, and this man said he remembers so well, being in high school and going to Greenwich Village and seeing Dylan, and Peter Paul and Mary and other great old names there. He said that this community reminds him so much of the Village. I’ve never been to Greenwich Village, but I can imagine that it does. Everyone is so serious about their art, whether it’s music or painting or writing or whatever. Yet, they are all one big family and so laid back, kind, and respectful of each other.

They’re having the First Annual Gulfport Jazz Festival this coming Saturday. My friend Beth is totally excited because she sang jazz for so many years and knows so many of the musicians that will be playing. She’s trying to arrange an after party at one of the restaurants for all the musicians to come after the festival closes at 10, and just be able to jam together. I went with her to talk to one of the restaurants that is a good venue for this. I hope it works out for her.

Tonight is the super full moon. I want to go to the fishing pier or somewhere similar with a glass of wine and watch the moonrise over the water. I want to remember too, to put out my crystals on a tray to recharge them. I love the full moon, and this one should be huge, being the closest the moon will be to earth this month.

Maybe it’s the full moon energy that is giving everything a feel of wonder today.  Life is good here. Had a wonderful day so far, and it’s not over yet.  Feeling grateful.

Love and light, all.

Liz Gilbert on Truth and Kindness (and lies….)

I just saw this on Facebook.  It’s a post by my hero, Elizabeth Gilbert, on Truth, Lies and Kindness.  BOY, does she nail it.  Just nails it.  As someone who has had my life turned upside down by the lies of others, and who has been attacked for my passion to have the truth out on the table, this was amazing to read. I was accused of wanting to play God, because I insisted that the truth be told.  When, in reality, it was the liar that played God, manipulating me and others lives for their own benefit, with the most enormous pile of painful lies imaginable.  Liz Gilbert explains my need, and my pain, and my truth better than I have ever been able to.  Read on…..
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Dear Ones –

The biggest emotional trouble I’ve ever gotten into in my life always stemmed from the same dilemma — when I was torn between telling the truth, and being kind.

Both matter immensely to me.

Both of these virtues (truth and kindness) are top-notch, A-grade, golden-ticket qualities, recognized by every human society in history as being essential for basic goodness.

I want to be unfailingly honest, but I want to be a REALLY NICE PERSON.

But here’s the thing: I’ve traditionally had trouble figuring out how to be both. Because sometimes the truth really hurts people, and I never want to hurt anybody. So — for most of my life — when I had to choose between truth and kindness, I always went with kindness. Because my need to not hurt people was bigger than my need to be truthful.

Also, isn’t it a fact that most people — no matter what they may claim — actually don’t really want you to tell them the truth? (Or so my reasoning went, anyhow.) As a Ethics Professor of mine taught me back in college: “Most of us grew up in families where our parents DEMANDED the truth, but they couldn’t DEAL WITH IT…and so we all learn how to lie.”

Didn’t the world teach you how to lie, too, in order to keep things peaceful and smooth? So aren’t you doing people a favor, when you them what they want to hear? Isn’t that nice of you?

No.

Here’s the thing I have finally learned, after years of struggling and suffering over this subject:

White lies are OK. Other lies are not.

There is such a thing as a harmless little white lie. The best anecdote I know about this came from President Jimmy Carter’s mother, who — when her son was running for president — was visited down in Georgia by a pushy New York journalist, who demanded to know, “Is it true that your son has never told a lie? Seriously? NEVER?” Mrs. Carter thought about it, and said “Well, Jimmy has told some white lies….” The journalist thought she had Mrs. Carter in trap and said, “Aha! But isn’t a white lie just a lie, all the same?” Mrs. Carter said, “No, white lies are harmless.” The journalist said, “Give me an example of a harmless white lie.” Mrs. Carter said, “Well…remember when you came into my house today, and I told you that it was very nice to meet you? THAT was a white lie…”

Mrs. Carter was correct: If you can’t tell little white lies sometimes in order to be polite to people, than you’re a sociopath and a jerk — so don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. Tell your neighbor that her cake was delicious — who cares? The world does not hinge upon such things, but it’s fine to be polite.

But this is not what we are talking about here.

We are talking about bigger moments, bigger lies, bigger truths.

There will be times in your life when people need to hear the truth from you — real truth, that will have real impact on their real existence — and when you decide “protect” that person with lies, then you are actually not protecting them at all. What you are doing is demeaning both them and you.

As that same Ethics Professor taught me, twenty-five years ago, “Whenever you lie to somebody about something that affects their life, you are manipulating that person and infantilizing them. By denying somebody essential information that they need in order to make intelligent decisions about their own future, you are effectively making all their decisions for them. There is no greater act of disrespect you could offer to an adult human than to make their choices for them, by lying to them, or by withholding essential information.”

Or, as my friend Martha Beck has taught me: “The truth is always an act of kindness, even when it seems like it will hurt. And a lie is always an act of unkindness, even when you believe you are being protective.”

For years, I told lies to people because I didn’t want to hurt them. Some of this was because I am “a nice person”, sure. But some of it was because I was “a scared person.” And some if it was because I was “a controlling person”. (Which isn’t very nice, when you really think about it.)

It took years of terrible consequences and suffering for me to realize that I wasn’t doing anybody any favors by hiding the truth from them, again and again. By lying to people out of kindness, I was being neither honest NOR kind. What I was practicing, in fact, is what the Buddhist call “Idiot Compassion” — which is when your cowardliness and your weak-heartedness makes you pity people instead of respecting them. Idiot compassion is what keeps people in relationships with abusers. (“Oh, he can’t help it! He had a hard childhood!”) Idiot compassion is what makes people engage in “pity sex”. Idiot compassion makes you cover for people, instead of challenging them. Idiot compassion is at the basis of all codependency. Idiot compassion makes you say yes when you need to say NO. Idiot compassion makes you easy to manipulate, but also makes you a serial manipulator — because you are always controlling people when you lie to them. Idiot compassion is called “idiot compassion” because it makes an idiot out of you, but it also makes an idiot out of your victim, because what you are offering is not protection, but patronization. By building a house of lies — no matter how pretty it may look from the outside — you are keeping everyone trapped.

As my friend Iyanla Vanzant says, “Respect people enough to tell them the truth.”

Respect yourself enough for that, too.

If there is one lesson I have FINALLY learned that has actually transformed my life, it is this: Whenever you are called to choose between truth and kindness, choose truth.

Trust me, in that moment you will actually be choosing both.

ONWARD,
LG