Tag Archives: unconditional love

Perfection? Pfffffft!

I was talking to some friends online today, about parenthood, its quagmires, minefields and opportunities for guilt and self-doubt. We were discussing the fact that, however hard you try, however much you put into it, however you beat yourself up, you’ll never get it ‘right’. You can do it well. Or sometimes you’ll do it badly. You will have successes and failures. Some things will make your heart sing, others will feel like total defeats. And when it goes well, you will file that lesson away for future use in similar circumstances. And when it bellyflops and leaves you scrabbling in the dirt, you’ll file that away, too. And try not to do it that way ever again πŸ˜‰ That’s not to even mention the decisions we make for ourselves that impact our children, and the hours, days and weeks of agonising over them… Being a parent is a part of our journey, of our learning experience through this life and it is as much about teaching us to be a more compassionate human being as it is about guiding them through their own pitfalls and giving them the tools to be independent and compassionate adults in their own rights. Where and if at all possible.

Because our children also have their own paths to follow. They will have issues they have to deal with when they are older, and we cannot avoid that. We cannot make it perfect for them. “Perfect” doesn’t exist! I had a long conversation with my eldest son a while ago, during which I explained that I would always do the best I could for him, but that I knew very well that some of the decisions I make during his childhood will translate into ‘issues’ when he’s an adult. Our issues come from our experience, and for the longest time our experience is our childhood, no matter how perfect our parents were or how hard they tried. And that isn’t their fault (I don’t find that especially easy to write, by the way, but I do know it’s true). It’s the nature of the beast.

Ah. “Perfect doesn’t exist. It didn’t feel right writing that. Because, actually, I don’t believe it. But not in the way I meant it. Not that I mean to tie you in knots.

What I mean is that you, and your child/ren are perfect. You are the perfect tools by which to learn… whatever it is you are here to learn. Each of you. Your combination is perfect. I know. I know this sounds controversial. But it isn’t really. It’s easy to get bogged down in horrific specifics but that would be to misunderstand the point. If, for example, you found yourself in an abusive situation, you would learn from it. Whether that situation had an ultimately positive or negative outcome, it would still be a learning experience. And the younger you are, the more helpless and dependent you are, which is why these ‘issues’ have to be tackled when we’re older. So, just because it’s a simple equation, that doesn’t mean it isn’t unbearably difficult sometimes. Does that make sense? I hope so.

In slightly other news, I found this today. I loved it. An extremely healthy lesson in empathy:

Walk a mile in my shoes

Walk a mile in my shoes

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My Two Wolves

I’m sure this story isn’t new to many of those reading this. But it bears repeating since, like so many things in this adventure called life, it is just a strand of the tapestry that has recently taken a more discernible form in my consciousness.

So here it is:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

β€œMy child, there is a battle raging inside us all. It is between two wolves.

β€œOne is Evil – It is anger, fear, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

β€œThe other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thinks about this for a minute or two.

β€œWhich wolf wins?”

β€œThe one you feed.”

It’s simple, isn’t it?

But, like so many things of such apparent simplicity, although 1) it’s true, 2) it’s much more easily said than done. Partly because the battle isn’t confined to an arena within ourselves. And ye gods, it’s a tough enough battle when it is confined to that arena.

Before I go any further, I’m not talking here about good and evil. There is no evaluation or judgement in what I am trying to say. What has become abundantly clear to me is that so much human relationship goes wrong when the relating is fear-based, and love is forgotten.

There is of course, the moment you start talking about love, a very real danger of sounding like a blissed-out hippie (which is no bad thing in itself, incidentally πŸ˜‰ ) I mean, the Beatles, man. They said it, right? “All you need is love”? And YES! I want to shout. It’s TRUE! And if everyone is operating from the same field, removing ego from the game, without becoming a doormat (another fine balance) then there’s nothing to fear. You’re safe to love, and to be loved.

Trouble is, as I see it, if one person is operating from love, and the other from fear, the wolf driven by fear will keep on, teeth bared, until one of you backs down. Usually Love, because Fear will just continue attacking, for fear of being attacked. At which point, after repeated attempts to stop the fight, a few bite-marks and battle-scars acquired, Love shrugs his shoulders, patches up his wounds, and whispers (inaudibly, to Fear) “When you’ve lost your snarl, retracted your teeth and claws, I’ll be here. Until then…”

It seems to be another truth that people will suspect you of operating as they do. Their prediction of your response is based upon the way they would respond in the same circumstances. And if you are driven by fear, then attack is your predominant modus operandi – kill or be killed – and you will expect attack from everyone else, regardless of the wolf they feed. You feed fear, so you expect everyone else to.

It is a very difficult thing, eschewing fear and embracing love. (It is actually also proving rather difficult to talk about without sounding… oh, I don’t know, trite, or naive, or as though you have all the answers – hah!) Maybe it’s something you can achieve once and for all. Eventually. When you attain enlightenment. πŸ™‚

But for most of us, it is a battle we are invited to on a daily basis. And the most important thing I have learned about this fight,Β every single time it comes around, is:

The more you feed love, the stronger it becomes.

And fear? Well, it just kind of ceases to matter….

 


A life’s work. A gradual dawning. Acceptance.

He bit someone today.

She loves him. But he bit her. Not out of spite or malice. But because she was trying to get him to follow the rules. Rules that he, in his little autistic world, didn’t want to follow. Rules that, if he broke them, would cause anarchy in the nursery school. So she carried him away from the wet, slippery, tyre playground. And he bit her.

Broke the skin on her arm and bruised it.

Even as she told me, as she showed me her arm, she told me how well he is doing, how brilliantly he is adapting to nursery school, how fond she is of him…

Being given an autistic child is, without a doubt, the toughest challenge yet. I’ve been through divorce, estrangement from my family of origin, house moves to different parts of the country… All processed and accepted.

But this is all new.

It is unconditional love at its purest and simplest. I don’t know what he thinks, how he feels, what he can process, what will set him off. I can guess at all these things, but I don’t know. Any given moment could be a ‘good’ one or a ‘bad’ one. He may throw his arms around me for a ‘big cuddle!’, or kick out at me, pull my hair and knock my glasses off.

He struggled as I strapped him in the car, kicked. Lunged for my hair. Reached for my glasses.

I drove home weeping. The sadness threatened to overwhelm me.

I parked the car, turned on my phone, found this:

“The 9th principle of Buddhist psychology in The Wise Heart: Wisdom knows what feelings are present without being lost in them.

From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, each sight, sound, taste, touch, smell or thought will have either a pleasant, painful or neutral quality – one of the primary feeling tones. Then, born out of this simple feeling tone, there arises a whole array of “secondary feelings” – all the emotions we are familiar with, from joy and anger to fear and delight. It can be quite a lot!

This stream of feelings is always with us, and yet we sometimes have the mistaken notion that life is not supposed to be this way… When a painful experience arises we might think we have done something wrong, and we try to get rid of it by ignoring or changing it.

As we become wiser we realize that fixing the flow of feelings doesn’t work. Primary feelings are simply feelings, and every day consists of thousands of pleasant, painful and neutral moments, for you, Condoleezza Rice, the Dalai Lama, Mick Jagger and the Buddha alike. These feelings are not wrong or bad. They are the stream of life.

Jack Kornfield

The low gives meaning to the high. The sad to the happy. The ‘bad’ to the ‘good’.

And vice versa.

So often I repeat these words to friends: this too shall pass.

This time, I say it for me: This Too Shall Pass.

I am grateful.

I am grateful for the love she showed my beloved son even through the necessity of showing me what he, through no fault of his own, had done. I am grateful for his ‘big cuddles’ and for his love.

I am grateful for the unlocking of my heart that loving him is giving me. For having him in my life.

And today. Today, I am sad.

But, with the help of Jack Kornfield’s timely reminder, I will not get lost in it.


Unconflicted love

Hands plunged in a hot soapy sink, I was listening to Wayne Dyer.
I often do, as I am sure I have mentioned before.
There are three spiritual teachers I listen to, who never fail to put my world back on its axis when it’s threatening to wobble off it: Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr David Hawkins, and the Rev Kusala – wonderful beings all.

So, the recording I was listening to is called: “Being in the Moment” and is billed as a ‘Self-Help Classic’. I have to try not to sneer at that, since it is far too banal and ordinary a term for such inspirational creations, in my opinion. And, interestingly, he addresses ‘opinion’ in this particular recording, so I should – here and now – acknowledge that my opinion is worth considerably less than the computer it’s written on. Have a listen and make up your own mind! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I was precisely thirty-eight and a half minutes into it when I heard exactly what I had needed to hear for that day.
(I have become a creature of faith – if you set yourself on the right track, with the right intention, and with integrity, you’ll find what you need to find. Or it will find you…)

He uttered the following words:

“The greatest cause of stress in our world is being in an unresolved relationship.”

I stopped dead.

I knew just what he meant.

He wasn’t, he went on to explain, talking about divorce, or marriage, or the workplace. Nothing as specific as that. No, he was talking about:

“…living on a daily basis in a relationship which you know is unresolved…”

You know the sort of thing – should you still be trying here? Are you hoping the other person / people will change? Are you holding out till things improve?

Here, I need to quote him verbatim:

“Living in unconflicted love means I can look out into the world, at the people that I love… and unconditionally, in an unconflicted way, say ‘I. Can. Love. You.’ And my definition is that you don’t have to meet my expectations, and I don’t want to be told to meet yours, and if you can just pass that test, you’re in unconflicted love.
If you’re not, resolve it. Resolve it. Whether it’s getting it back together and making it work on a daily basis, or getting the hell out of it.”

(It strikes me here that this can be condensed to the ‘Live and let live’ philosophy.)

Flogging a dead horse at the expense of your own healthy personal boundaries, at the expense of your integrity, at the expense of living out your life purpose (which is, essentially, to follow your own path wherever it leads you), is not a necessary requirement of love.
If that is the price, then the chances are your relationship is an unresolved one, your boundaries have been violated or trampled, and it is time to have a reshuffle.
Can you re-establish healthy boundaries in this relationship? You can respect the other person’s boundaries, but can they respect yours? Can they learn to? If they can, then you have a path to fixing (or resolving) your unresolved relationship. If they can’t, then the resolution may well require striking out on your own.

Either way, as Dr Dyer says, “You will be in a better position.”

And as our children, who are whole people in themselves, set out at the beginning of this human experience, what better way to start than with healthy boundaries? Knowing that they are worthy of love just as they are,Β  and that anything other than that signifies a relationship that is not functioning properly.

Bon voyage, mes amis. πŸ™‚