"I would attempt to capture
…what it feels like to be loved unconditionally...
…what it is to know true contentment."
~Nichole @ In These Small Moments

As a child, unconditional love was my father's smile when he hugged and kissed me good night; the smell of my mother's perfume in the morning; my grandmother's vegatable garden in her backyard; waking up to find my little brother's thin warm body next to mine in bed, surrounded by all of his stuffed animals. 

As a teen, unconditional love was sneaking out of my house to soothe my boyfriend after his father abused him; Friday night football games in the stands, cheering for my best friend; the smell of my secret crush's cologne and the twinkle in his eye as he called me "Dan"; lying on my driveway staring up at the stars, wishing for my future; a single kiss on a playground; a hand on the small of my back as I cried. 

As a wife, unconditional love was home-cooked meals and lying on the couch all day Sunday watching TV under a blanket; compromises; forgiving despite the dread in the pit of my stomach; giving me courage when I didn't want it. 

As a mother, unconditional love is "You are the best mom ever"; waking to her hand reaching for one of mine in her sleep; kisses on the forehead; sweet concern behind her frown as she asks if I am okay when she sees tears in my eyes; full-on belly laughs to the point of losing our breath. 

As a social worker, unconditional love is a guiding hand, comforting words, and helping even though it hurts yourself to the point of tears and fatigue.

Unconditional love is ever-changing, growing and evolving, gaining strength and stature as the years go on. I am overwhelmed by the amount of love I have for my daughter, for the love I feel from a handful of friends that seem to know the exact time to reach out to me, for the surprise of true love in my boyfriend's eyes. 

After the debacle of my separation and divorce, I was unsure of the definition of unconditional love. I had been trained by my ex husband to believe that all love had conditions, that surely I didn't deserve it unless I earned it, by his rules & standards. That it had an expiration date. I watched that love grow hard and then brittle and eventually disappear. And I let others tell me what unconditional love was. Their take on it, their twisted and sad way of justifying the lack of it in their lives. 

I would be lying if I said that unconditional love was pain free. It sucks that this isn't the truth. Oh damn, how it hurts sometimes. Enough to bring me to my knees. It can be sharp and blunt, fierce and timid, brutal and lenient, comforting and lonely. And bad love doesn't always ruin good love, later. Not unless you let it. But then: it lifts me back up, comforts me, and carries me on. 

I am still learning, still experiencing. I feel the ebb and flow of it in my life, rocking me through both the good times and the bad. I still have fear, but I still have faith. I still play it safe, but I continue to take risks. I am fluid and solid, with the love I find, and the love that finds me. 

*This post was inspired by this post by Nichole over at In these Small Moments. The quote at the top is directly from her post. I've had these words locked up inside, not knowing they existed until that sentence unlocked something.*


lane said...

i, too, am so blessed with overwhelming love and support from "a handful of friends that seem to know the exact time to reach out to me". you are among them. i really think some of our souls are cosmically linked; that we traveled to the earth together and somehow we know when one of us needs a little extra love.

so happy to see you writing again!

Left of Lost said...

Thank you, love. I am so happy to be writing again. It is such a release. Yes, I do think me and you are linked. Love to you. :)