The other day, as I hugged my daughter, I shared a truth with her. “I just like to love,” I said. She laughed and replied, “I know.”
I guess I don’t hide it well, my delight in loving. I like giving to others and connecting. I like hugging and having deep, meaningful conversations. I like snuggling with my kids or my husband, and telling the people around me how much they mean to me. I like sharing deep laughs, endless giggles, inside jokes, silly memories…you get the picture. I like to love, and to express my love.
But it’s a fine line, and one I’m continuously navigating, to learn to love without expecting something in return. Or at least not expecting too much in return, or more than the other person can give. I’m learning to love loving, and not need a response in kind. I’m learning to give my whole self to a relationship, without giving too much of myself. I’m learning to want nothing from you!
Well, not really nothing. But I find that my delight is purer when I give because I love to give. And when I need the same from you, I set myself up to be disappointed. And I set you up to disappoint me. Which isn’t really fair.
Years ago I read an article that shared advice from couples with long, successful marriages. They claimed that the secret to their success was lowered expectations. Now that can seem depressing, or it can seem freeing. I’m seeing, more and more, how freeing it can be.
Sure, there are things I expect from the people I live with or am involved with. Sure, there is a bar that they must pass over, a standard that they must meet, in order for me to stay actively in their lives. Especially their daily lives. But I’m learning to lower the bar and reevaluate my standards, and to do my best to give others lots of room for error and freedom to just be.
Because if I supposedly love them, then I love them as they are. And I want them to feel comfortable being who and as they are. If I want nothing from them, or at least not too much from them, then I’m giving them the space to give as they want to give and love as they want to love. And I’m giving myself the gift of not being dependent on their actions, or their mood, to have a good day. And a loving relationship. It’s liberating to know that I’m the only one in charge of whether or not my day is good. That things happen – often and incessantly – but how my mood and my day go are up to me.
I’m working on wanting and needing less from others, on becoming more self-sufficient and in charge of my own feelings and state of mind. Even as I simultaneously work on allowing myself to rely more on the people who love and support me, and to not feel like I have to “go it all alone.” As I said, it’s a fine line and I’m learning as I go.
But for right now, I want nothing from you.
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