Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Limits of Unconditional Love

I believe true, pure unconditional love is only capable from God. I think the closest we come to that as humans is the love a parent has for their child. I also think we can try to sift through what true love is (there is the tough love variety and other sorts) and give it our best shot to love as perfectly as we can through our incredibly imperfect selves.

I remember a big aha moment in family therapy. We were having struggles with Matthew who was then in high school. The very painful time came when our counselor talked to Tim about whether or not he should continue to live with us. I remember looking at Scott completely befuddled. I was a counselor too and I knew better, but I just couldn’t see it in my own life. I really thought if I could just love Matthew like my own child, give him that constancy he desperately needed, stability, etc. etc. etc., that he would come around. He didn’t though. He just didn’t. Scott looked at me with compassion and just said that life and people don’t follow a formula. No matter what we do, sometimes people just don’t respond the way we think they should. I knew that in my head, but I was still devastated in my heart. I tried so hard to be a the best mom I could, but it wasn’t enough back then. It just wasn’t where Matthew was. That brings me back to the God-thing. We still have free will. So unconditional love comes with no guarantees.

Thanks to the gender-fluid movement, referring to a person as a “they” is now considered grammatically correct even though it is a plural form used for a singular person. I like it though, because now I can write without defining a gender which helps protect anonymity. Sorry for the sidebar.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few years about sticking up for myself and not being a doormat. I learned that from a lot of sources, but one person in particular had a great influence of me. They are pretty rough around the edges, but with time I did a pretty good job of accepting them the way they were. Whenever they hurt me, I told them so I didn’t repeat the doormat pattern. But I always forgave and I continued to love. I had always hoped they would learn from me as well. Maybe they would soften a bit, learn to be a tiny bit less selfish. Maybe try to care a little for someone other than themselves. I hoped it, and I know their friends did too.

Sometimes though, the opposite happens. Loving like that can create something else that is NOT good – that of just being taken for granted. Even though I showed my friendship in numerable ways with little in return, all it did was allowed that person to take me for granted. And instead of being a little bit better as I grew tougher, they actually sank even lower. They became even more selfish and hurt me even worse. I can write about this because they told me they don’t read my blog because they just have no interest in the topics I choose. It doesn’t matter that I am one of their best friends and I write about what is important to me. That is of no consequence to them because I am not of consequence to them.

The other side effect of learning to stand up for myself, is being introduced to the concept of revenge. It was not something I visited often in my life. It was not usually a struggle. I guess in truth, it still isn’t in the sense that I don’t struggle to not act on it. But I am surprised by my thoughts. I think about wanting to hurt the people who have hurt me. I think about it often with my neighbors who continue to draw out the incident from last year and keep hurting us in spite of our lack of retaliation.

And I think about my friend and how they have hurt me. I can think of a million ways they could hurt. If they could hurt just a tenth of how much they hurt me, I would be satisfied. But then I hit the brick wall and remember that people like them can’t even be hurt. They would have to care in order to hurt. And some people truly don’t give a shit about anyone else.

The crazy thing is, I left the friendship in their court. I said if they could show me respect I would still hang in there. The response was a confident yes, they want my friendship. And then they disappeared. Anyone who knows me, knows ignoring me is one of the deepest cuts for me.

I know the answer I will eventually get to, is that I choose to love because it is who I am. I don’t do it for the reciprocation. But right now, the well is dry. I’m exhausted from caring for others so deeply and having it get me nowhere but more hurt and rejection. Shame on me, right? I will get there, I always bounce back. Because it spite of learning to defend myself, I am still at my core, NOT an asshole. I am NOT selfish. So I will find hope again. But going through the dark road to get there? It sucks beyond description. SUCKS.


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Purpose

For the first time ever, I had a request. Last week someone posted on Facebook and asked if I could write about feeling like you have no purpose. I was actually very honored that someone was interested in my thoughts. So I hope I don’t disappoint her 🙂

I thought I would start by looking up Webster’s definition of purpose, but I decided that was too cliché. I just started thinking of ways we commonly use the word. The first that comes to mind is, “You did that on purpose.” Or when we apologize, we say the opposite. “I didn’t do it on purpose.” In that context, purpose implies intention. Action. Plan. Deliberation. Forethought. The opposite of accidental.

The second thing that comes to mind is, “And what was the purpose of that?” I guess its really a nuance of the first use, but it is slightly different. More emphasis on accomplishment. Goals. Achievement.

As I thought about this, purpose is a lot less sexy of a concept than I thought it was. What do I have to do today? Who is counting on me to do what? What do I expect of myself? If you’re a woman, there is probably a list of people who depend on you for several different things. Sorry, guys. Not trying to be insulting, but it’s biologically built into us to take care of others.

My purpose is easy. The list is endless. I have to pay the bills to keep a roof over everyone’s heads. I have to see clients to help them. People read my book and tell me how immensely it’s helped them. I weed the yard so it doesn’t get backed up. I buy groceries so there is food in the house. I put that stupid bag over my foot so it doesn’t get wet when I shower. I shower so I don’t smell so bad or look so bad. The purpose of what I do isn’t so hard to figure out.

The much trickier part- and my guess is, it’s the part my friend is struggling with- is who the hell cares? Why bother?

I think sometimes in our lives, knowing the purpose is enough. Knowing how you impact others motivates you. Knowing what you’ve accomplished keeps you going. But what if you don’t think what you are doing makes a difference to anyone? What if you struggle with depression and knowing how you’ve helped someone else doesn’t really do anything for you internally?

I’ve been there. More often than I would care to admit. And I’m not actually sure that I have a good response for that. I just have this vague kind of response/answer that can’t be pinned down. It’s like being so depressed that ending your life makes much more sense than continuing with yet. And yet you don’t do it. Because you just know that it’s not an option. You just know in your soul- somehow- that you must affirm life. You must keep going.

I think the same thing about finding meaning and satisfaction. Sometimes it just isn’t there. But you get up every day anyhow. Somehow you just know you have to. Somehow you just know there is Something bigger and greater than you are. I think of it as some kind of God-spark. It’s a sense. It’s knowing with a capital K.

So my dear, dear friend. Dig deep. You have that God-spark in your soul too. I know you do. Even though it defies reason, even though it is lacking emotion. You have purpose. And more importantly, you have meaning. You matter. Whatever makes you get up every day and keep surviving- it’s Divine. And it’s 100% you.