Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love You Forever?

One of the chat boards I've been following has recently had some discussions going about unconditional love.  What is it, is it even possible - and who's entitled to it?

For instance, it seems those with OCPD demand unconditional love, but their love for their partners or children is very conditional.  We're expected to follow the Crazy Rules, to speak softly and gently and kindly to them at all times - even if they're screaming at us, doing the Silent-But-Stomping bit, etc.  They don't understand why we might not want to make love with them after all they've put us through.  Uh, not turned on by abuse, hello?!

Of course, they usually don't think they've been abusive.

Thanks to LizaJane for tipping me off to this video last year.

Sometimes we think of the relationship between mothers and children as one that generates unconditional love, and sometimes it is.

I remember a beautiful book called "Love You Forever" about a mother who has a baby boy, and sings him a little song about loving him forever, even as he grows to be a messy pre-adolescent and rebellious teen.  And how later, as his mother ages, that boy grown to be a man rocks her in the rocking chair and sings her the song about love, and after she dies, sings it to his own newborn daughter.

Truly a beautiful book, but the reality is, sometimes mothers are mentally ill, either with OCPD or some other condition.  So we didn't get that unconditional love from them.  (And usually, blamed ourselves, thought it was due to something lacking or bad in us.  It wasn't.)

And sometimes, parents are wonderful, but the children have OCPD or some other illness.  They don't perceive or can't process and accept their parents' love, so, they feel unloved.

I wonder how Ellie Gertz and her family are doing, if she is doing any better in the special needs home in Washington state where her parents sent her.  In her case, she was adopted, but parents can have significant problems with children genetically related to them, as well.  What do you do, emotionally, when the person you love is, at best, horribly damaged, and at worst, a pyschotic monster?

As I write this, the unfolding story of the troubled (okay, crazy) young man who just shot Congresswoman Giffords, a beautiful little girl, and so many others is unfolding.  I have no idea whether the shooter is diagnosably mentally ill (he clearly ain't right, we all know that), and whether his parents ignored his condition, or they turned their world upside down to try to get help for him.  Probably somewhere in between.  I wonder for his parents, if at some point their love for him ended, or it continues despite the horrible things he has done?

What do we do, when we love a terribly damaged person?  When no matter what we do, no matter how much we try to demonstrate our love, no matter how patient we are, no matter how well we work on our own issues and boundaries and educate ourselves as to the condition, it all gets thrown back in our faces?  When do we decide to give up hope?  Or do we?

Can we continue to love someone unconditionally, even while cutting off or minimizing our contact with him or her, in order to protect ourselves and our other loved ones?

Sunset over Morro Bay, California.

For ourselves, is the idea of receiving unconditional love a fantasy?  Do we need to accept that as long as we are giving love to the universe, sometimes it will be returned, and sometimes not?  (And sometimes we might be loved or desired by others for whom we just can't return the kind of love that they want from us.)

(Some would say that God gives unconditional love, but I'm talking about somebody who you'd sit down and eat a meal with, okay?)

I'm not suggesting I have the answers, just working my way through the questions.  Leave your comments, below, and let me know your thoughts on the matter.