Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Unconditional Love, What’s That?

I like structure.

Truth be told, I’m more comfortable when I know what’s expected of me.  While it’s not my best quality, I get uncomfortable and anxious if things aren’t clearly defined.

In some ares of life, this is fine and perhaps productive.  Yet when it comes to love, it’s not.

I grew up believing if I did what was expected of me, good things would happen.  It seemed everyone around me was happier when I acted and reacted the way I was supposed to.  Over time, this led me to believe the only way I’d be accepted, appreciated and loved was if I did precisely what was expected of me.

As I grew older, developing other types of relationships, this line of thinking became a challenge because most people don’t enter a relationship with a laundry list of expectations.  But I did.  They were unspoken of course, but none-the-less they were there.

So, surely if I had them, so did everyone else.  Therefore, I assumed one step out of those expectation bounds and the relationship would be over.  In other words, if I didn’t live up to what was expected of me, I’d be left abandoned and alone.

As life moved along, I kept believing there were consequences for not living up to unspoken expectations.  I maintained the idea that if I just continued to “give” in a relationship, all would be well.  It was quite common for me to say, “Oh, that’s OK, it doesn’t matter” when something would be forgotten or left unsaid. I never dared ask for attention yet inside I was begging for it.

No surprise I would feel lonely even in a room filled with people.  But those empty feelings would be soon relieved once I’d thrown back a few glasses of wine with nothing in my stomach.  Suddenly I felt loved and appreciated, hiding behind the anorexic, alcoholic veil covering from seeing what I needed to see.

And then something happened.  People started to come into my life who, without my reminding them, didn’t forget the things that needed to be remembered and said the things that I needed to hear.  Further, they stuck around even when I behaved in a manner which would have caused most people to run for the hills.

Not only did this mystify me, I suspected it as true.  So what did I do?  I tested it.  A lot.  I would push that proverbial envelope believing if I did something so awful, surely they’d leave.

Yet they stayed right by my side.  Unbeknownst to me, they were teaching me that love, true love, is unconditional.

I had to literally unlearn all I knew about love.  I had to learn there are people who do love without condition.  They look beyond the occasional poor judgment or stupid thing said.  That no matter where my life may go, they’ll continue to love me anyway.

This kind of love feels good.  It feels freeing.  And finally, I can say it feels comfortable.

All I needed to do was break free from my own preconceived notions about love.  I found the way to that knowledge within the rooms of recovery.

Today, the love I have surrounding me is truly unconditional.  Those in my life know, no matter what they may or may not do, I’ll always be right here.

And they’ll be right there for me too.

Unconditional love is a gift.  And it’s one this woman gets to open every day.

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One thought on “Unconditional Love, What’s That?

  1. Claudia Donohue on said:

    So beautifully expressed for all of us “people pleasers”. This post rang of gratitude, something that always makes me smile.

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