RoseSeule (roseseule) wrote,

A return

I might as well crosspost what I've been writing on Tumblr here. I see a few people remain, so...

I took today off from writing the novel. I hit 25,000 words yesterday and was needed a break. I have to regroup a bit, figure out what the second half will be and how to move forward with it…the protagonist needs someone to interact with, but plot-wise, I don’t think I can allow that, so…I’ll beat my head against that wall tomorrow night.

Instead, I watched Before Midnight, the third of the “Before” movies by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I loved the first two movies, and at times can actually call Before Sunrise my favorite movie. It was born of that wonderful period int he early 90’s when indy films exploded and movies about people talking could actually be released in theaters and make enough money that they would release more of them.

I’m sure other people will focus on other aspects of the movie, but with my particular circumstances and relationship history, there was a particular sequence and theme that hammered home to me.

Jesse (Ethan Hawke’s character) talks about how he can only give Unconditional Love to Celine.

It’s a hard concept, unconditional love. I have known a lot of people who claim that they love unconditionally, but most of the time, there are conditions, just not so present.

I love you because you are pretty
I love you because you are a kind person
I love you because you care so much about me
I love you because you are family
I love you because you are such a good mother/father
I love you….


If there is a because, it’s not unconditional.

And the corollary of that is: I love you Until. We all have known someone who turns out not to be what they appeared, or made choices that make ti impossible to be around them.

What if that person changes? People can get ground down by life, physically, emotionally, intellectually or many other ways. That statistics around people staying together are devastating. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and what people people who choose not to get married? Do we even know those statistics? Couples who go through certain events have even higher rates of splitting up, such as a child dying, a long illness, mental illness, and the like make it harder.

I was in a relationship a while back, and one of my friends asked if I loved this woman, who was pretty, smart, artistic and fascinating if I loved her unconditionally. I thought about it for a while and finally had to say “No.”

Why? Because, there were conditions. That we stay together, that her tendency to be casually cruel no be turned on me, that she not give in to her dark cynicism.

Does that make me a horrible person?

Don’t know.

It is a struggle, even now to live up to the phrase “unconditional love.”

I try. When I decide that I do love someone, not just romantic love, but familial love, love of a treasured friendship, and so many others, I work to make it unconditional. To understand that people are complex, that they have faults, or that things change.

I also don’t say “I love you” as much as I used to. I’m much more guarded. I hold it because I can’t say it unless it is unconditional. And, I struggle with that. I struggle because unconditional love is risky. You can get hurt. Sometimes hurt so bad it knocks you to the ground and you struggle to give enough of a damn to get up.

So, I’m more careful.

But, when I love, I try, so very, very hard, to be unconditional about it.

No strings attached.
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I'm probably not going to explain this very well but I think it's easy to love unconditionally, but that's different from LIKING someone unconditionally. I know I have people in my life that I will always love no matter what, but loving someone doesn't mean that they can't be toxic to be around, and it's not a bad thing to remove yourself from someone like that. That's not placing conditions on your love, that's placing conditions on what level of integrity you have for yourself.
I agree -- I definitely have former relationships where I've gone out of my way to ease long-standing pain between us (I hadn't realized one of my ex's was carrying the emotional burden of my hatred, which I had long discarded, and so I made the effort to make sure he knew I'd forgiven him). But, despite caring and love remaining, I can't be around some of those people anymore.

I do think it's important to have love that goes BEYOND a basic list, that has a strong connection that is a bit inexplicable and forces you to have faith in each other. I also think it's important to know what that list is, in the sense of understanding what you value in your partner/friend/etc.

I think it's highly unlikely that my husband would develop traits that would be unacceptable to me yet somehow acceptable to him -- even when we go through changes, it's usually something we can balance out with good communication. But, I also know from bad past relationships, that it's not okay for me to put up with just anything because I love him (and vice versa).

I guess it's important to know what your conditions are. For me, it's important that the "conditions" are a last resort, with many options before then.
Good discussion, and I will preface this by saying I am probably the last person on this planet to talk about what makes a good long-term relationship, since the only relationship I have had that have lasted over two years have been with comic books and my cat...

I am keenly aware that people change over time, and my thought is that if you love them, you WANT them to change and to grow into more of what they want to be. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and one theme that has been jumping out to me are the stories of people who changed their life dramatically. Alton Brown worked in commercial direction and decided to give it up and go to culinary school. Another writer worked as an editor, spent a night on a bridge talking himself into going on living and sold all he owned to travel the world and learn how people lived their lives elsewhere.

But when it comes to this idea, I have to draw from my own experience:

I have a sister who, in the last 15 years, has become someone I can't stand. Her husband is a bully, she has become cruel and uncaring, she blames everyone else for her circumstances and is generally a negative person. In some people's way of thinking "She's your sister, so you still lover her, right?"

No. I don't. I don't understand the old line from the Beatles song "I don't like you, but I love you."

This doesn't mean I don't forgive people. I forgive EVERYONE who I feel has done something to me, directly or indirectly because it is not about them. It's about me. I don't want to carry that resentment any yes, you may have hurt me or done something to lessen my life, but I will not carry that any more. All of the things that have happened in my life have brought me here, and this is where I am. Hell, I can have civil conversations with my X-wife at this point.

But love? No. I don't love her. I did, but now, she's not the person she was when I was in love with her, and many things along her path are things that I find appalling.

Maybe I need to evolve a bit more...and I will say, Mink, that I do value your views on the world and think they are far more high minded than mine are. Maybe I should post here more often so that I can learn more from you.

And Lenore, you were always a hell of a lot smarter and mature about emotional stuff than I ever was.