I was reading a magazine article and found this:
“Love them unconditionally? Stop giving a damn what they do.”
Which really drives at: “Don’t care.” It pronounces that the path to true love is to love them enough so that you don’t care what happens to them. You just love them the same. Pure acceptance. Can I honestly do that? Let “live and let live” my dysfunctional family. Have them carry on and stop making a fuss when they flounder and fall (in my standards.) Stop bothering my husband about neatness, sugar or driving. Never worry about my loved ones’ lack of future. Or maybe, assure my best bud that I don’t care if she stays in her abusive relationship. Just let them be. Is that love?
Tough. Love. But it does make sense. Because embedded in my trying to fix things and those I love, are my judgments about right and wrong. My opinion of what they ought to be, should feel or be doing. Somehow I keep telling them they are not enough, could do so much better, be happier, even that they are not living their fullest potential.
What if I just stopped all this devotion? What if I commit to trust the larger Intelligence that puts them exactly where they are? Because the truth is, I wouldn’t love them less if they stayed the same. If they are back to being lazy, or getting into fights, if they eat processed food, if they have never changed, and even if they stay in an abusive relationship, I love them just the same. Love=acceptance.
Too much tending robs us of energy, and there’s little to gain from it. Smother them with love and you unwittingly attack, invoke defensiveness, and you’re left with disappointment, guilt or aching isolation. As I get obsessed in fixing, in demanding change, in pushing, in putting things to right, my care overshadows the true joy of just having things be. Why fix those we love? They are not broken.
I remember my father in law irritably barking at my husband who was trying to help him out of the car. He was annoyed that we had someone trail him as he took his everyday stroll. “If I need help, I’ll ask you. But right now, I could still walk!” And so we resolved to let him be. And so live and let live, with everyone you love and truly care about. Resolve to let them be. They will ask when they need you. Right now, they could still walk. So have them walk their own paths, be it straight or twisted. Make way for their own remarkable journeys. Stop handing them well-trodden roads or change their courses. It is a life fully lived no matter what just because it is theirs.
And maybe you think this article is coldhearted and full of nonsense. I actually, respectfully and lovingly, also don’t give a damn what you think.
Inspired by the article May We Help You? I Don’t Care by Martha Beck