Quite a few people have asked me how I can love the people who hurt me so badly throughout the years. Why don’t I hate them instead? Don’t I feel resentment or hurt? Don’t I feel angry? And if I love them, why did I walk away? Cut them out of my life?
Love, true love, is unconditional. It is universal, all-encompassing, non-judgmental, compassionate, accepting, supportive, and freely given. Love is inclusive instead of exclusive.
This kind of love is NOT the same as conditional love, romantic love, approval, or obligation.
Yes, I do feel anger, resentment, hurt, intense dislike, sometimes hate, guilt, and shame too. But these emotions are pointed at words, thoughts, actions, reactions, choices, behaviors, and experiences; not the individual human beings.
Yes, those people made the choice to be abusive. And maybe some of them enjoy being mean and hateful, etc., but I’m not responsible for their feelings. All I can do is try to understand their perspectives and make choices to protect myself.
I’m learning to let go of the anger and resentment, the shame and guilt, because holding on to that negativity only hurts me in the end.
I can’t/won’t change anyone else; can’t/won’t make their choices for them; can’t/won’t be responsible for them or the consequences of those choices.
I can only make my own choices, live up to my own values, and be responsible for myself.
By doing that, I can open my heart enough to feel compassion, love, and acceptance for the people who hurt me. And I can give them another chance to see if we can have a positive relationship as the people we are now.
Every person has a story. Every person has been through experiences (nurture/nature) that shaped who he was and who he is now. Some of those experiences were her choices; others were not her choice. Each experience, and how the person coped, influenced the person he or she is now and how that individual interacts with others.
The people who hurt me chose to treat me and talk to me that way. I hold them responsible for their choices even as I can understand why. That DOES NOT mean I have to spend time around people who chose to act and be abusive and hurtful to themselves and others.
So, as much as I love my family and feel a universal love toward the others, I still hold them responsible for what they said and did. I forgive them without forgetting. And I set my boundaries to protect myself even as I pray that someday they will stop hurting themselves and others.
Religious? Spiritual? Or something else?
I don’t know. The religion I learned as a child taught me to fear and hate God, men, women, and life equally. This life was advance payment for a glorious afterlife (if I was a man) or a lifetime of servitude without abuse (if I was a woman). And maybe that’s not really what being a Mormon is about, but those are the lessons I learned.
These days, I choose to believe in a universal force/spirit/energy that works with nature to provide what’s needed. Nature or nurture. Science or religion or magic. In my mind, all of these are different sides of the same coin.
Is saying “I love you” to people not family foolish?
No. I’ve said those words to many people who are not family or close friends and meant them. Those people may have brushed off the words or responded with condescension, thinking I’m naive and sappy, but I’d rather live in a world with love, compassion, empathy, resilience, and courage than one without those traits.
So I will keep on saying “thank you”, “I appreciate…”, “I love you”, “I apologize…”, “I’m sorry…”, “how can I help”, “no”, “not right now”, “I don’t know”, “Please respect my…” to people. I will keep on treating them the way I want to be treated. I will bounce back from the pain. I will give second chances, but not third ones. I will continue living life on my terms and cultivate friendships with like-minded people while accepting those with different mind-sets.
Thanks for reading