Unconditional Love, what’s that?

It’s been brought up on forums I’ve visited by both adoptees and first mothers. As Tupac Shakur said,

(What y’all want?)
Unconditional Love (no doubt)
Talking bout the stuff that don’t wear off

where is that? I see conditions in most relationships. I put out a lot of conditions in my daily life. I’ve got lots of expectations. I set conditions for my environment, for my friendships.

In a recent discussion of unconditional love I fell back to the Divine Miss M singing From a Distance. It’s so much easier to love from a distance. We can let go of our differences and align with the inner peace and harmony.

But we want it up close and personal. We want to be accepted and loved for who we are right here right now. We want to be understood and appreciated in our individual needs.

The primary example is usually a mother taking care of her infant, getting up through the night, washing, feeding, cuddling. Sometimes it’s idealized in romantic relationships. I’ve never seen that truly. Romance tends to exemplify multiple conditions of support and fidelity, etc.  So it’s mostly our parents we expect to love us unconditionally.

There seems to be doubt about whether God loves unconditionally amongst those of us that live in fear of going to hell.

God knows I have spent my life seeking it and holding to what I’ve found because it’s rare.  It’s precious. I nurture it and cultivate it and still it slips away. I was reading today of Buddhist practice to develop loving kindness and compassion as mental qualities to turn towards love in action. The concepts and discipline for transcending suffering are familiar.  Also the reminder that it takes practice for growth and fulfillment. Ah that word again, that condition, that I must practice, practice, practice. Is practice a condition for unconditional love?

We start out with the oxytocin rush when our babes are born. That same hormone pops into action in romantic love too. For the love to get past the two year mark takes more than hormones. How do we carry on? How do we love our children as they grow and experiment; cutting holes in their comforters to see what’s inside? getting arrested for vandalism? As they break away from us and the conditions we laid out for them to find their own way?

It varies. One of the most curious bits is that I didn’t know my own parents loved me unconditionally when I was a kid. They put out their standards of behavior to guide me in the best way they knew. As a   kid I took those guidelines as conditions for love rather than guidelines for a successful life. I didn’t understand their point of view at all and anticipated rejection because they didn’t love me the way I wanted them to. They didn’t understand me. But they loved me anyway as I learned later.

Some say that if they really loved me they would have helped me to keep my firstborn child. They wouldn’t have fallen for the pap about it being best for the baby to go to a “two parent home”. They would have given me what I wanted,  a home for me and my baby.

Or if they really loved their first grandchild they sure had a strange way of showing it, huh? If they loved that baby unconditionally they would have clung to it her (my first babe was a daughter) and kept it her safe themselves rather than cast it her out to the unknown world of people in better circumstances, better able to provide for this healthy white infant, (that sweet baby girl). That’s what some people say.

I’m wondering about unconditional love. Where is it? Where have you seen it? What can you tell me about it?

Can we make it? This song is one example.

I’d really love to learn about yours.

It feels odd to be sending out for your feedback when I’m getting ready to take off in a couple days. In the meanwhile, here’s to laughter, health, wealth and happiness for you and you and you and you…

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11 responses to “Unconditional Love, what’s that?

  1. I have a son who has been in prison three times. When we reunited, he already was considered a habitual offender. I wrote him, sent him cards and money for his canteen fund while he was in this last time. Do I say what he did to get there was OK? Hell no. It was so wrong. But I still love the person he is, regardless. He has trouble believing that.

    • It can be hard to accept love when we don’t think we deserve it; when we think it is something we’re supposed to earn. It’s wonderful that it’s there anyway. Thank you for your story.

  2. “It’s so much easier to love from a distance. We can let go of our differences and align with the inner peace and harmony.”

    So true.

    I don’t have a clue how to describe unconditional love. To me it’s one of those things that you recognize when you see it or feel it, if you’re lucky enough to be a person who can give or receive it.

  3. Well in the words of my reunited and estranged yet again son “I can tell you you are not my mother, that my mother is the woman who raised me, that you are not really much at all to me. The reason I can tell you those things is because I know you will love me anyway, unconditionally, just because I am me and you are you. If I told my mom that I thought of you as my mom too, well she wouldn’t love me anymore and that is that.”
    I guess it makes complete sense to him and with time and distance, it has come to make sense to me as well. He knows I’ll still be here loving him if he decides one day to do so. He does not have that security with his a-mom and that simply just makes me sad that he had to grow up knowing that and continuing to have to live that.

  4. “Or if they really loved their first grandchild they sure had a strange way of showing it, huh? If they loved that baby unconditionally they would have clung to it and kept it safe themselves rather than cast it out to the unknown world of people in better circumstances, better able to provide for this healthy white infant. That’s what some people say.”

    That would be HER, not IT, thank-you.

  5. That doesn’t make any sense.

    “They would have clung to love and kept love safe themselves rather than cast love out to the unknown world of people”

    No, totally incongruant with the rest of the writing . A plain ole sorry would have been a lot nicer.

    • I am sorry.
      I only read the first part of your comment before bed and rushed off the next morning without sorting the whole thing out.

      I am removing my initial comment. It was written by the idiot part of me. If it had come from my mother I would be embarrassed for her. Leaving it up was self punishment, not helping anyone.

  6. No, that pronoun did not refer to the reference showing love.

    Unconditional love is a choice, like all love. Therefore, if you do not have all the latitude to make a choice, conditions apply. Another sad paradox.

  7. Wow, interesting topic…

    The love I have for my son is and always has been unconditional. I don’t know why…it just is. It feels like our souls are entwined in some mystical way, much the same way it felt when I carried him those nine months.

    We’ve been reunited for over 20 years now, and my love for him has never wavered…even when he was in the depths of his addiction to crystal meth. Those were very violent, turbulent times; he was dangerous in those days. His adoptive parents totally gave up on him and took out a 3-year restraining order. And I flipped out — damn it, there was no way in hell I was going to let my son be a motherless child. I couldn’t just turn my love off for him, not when he was obviously in so much pain. I mean, what the hell is being a mother all about if not to be there for your kid in the good times and the bad times?

    It’s strange in a way because my own mother has never loved me unconditionally…I don’t think she’s capable of loving anybody, not really. To the contrary, my mother takes pleasure in hurting me — she enjoys it, I can tell from her eyes and her smile. So I don’t know how I ever knew what love really was…but I did somehow. As much as I hate adoption and regret buying into all the bullshit when I was a teenager, the one thing I’m grateful for is that my son was never touched by my mother’s toxicity.

    My son has been clean and sober now for 15 or 16 years, and he is the light of my life. But I know in my heart that if he ever relapses, I’ll be there for him. I think he knows that in his heart…at least, I hope he does.

    • Raven,
      Your son is blessed to have you “in his corner”. I’m sure his heart is well aware of your love.

  8. I can tell you that my love for my son and daughter exists in the same way the blood courses through my veins as I sit here typing this post. My blood circulates through my body whether or not I acknowledge it, and will continue to do so until my death. My love for my son and daughter is the same, it exist whether they choose to acknowledge and accept it or not, no matter where they are or I am. It is there, without conditions.

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