There is often a lot of talks floating around about unconditional love which is a beautiful thing but I want to touch on the polarity of where love needs conditions.
It's a hard topic for me but one I feel I have waited many years and it is time to share.
I grew up with an emotionally and physically violent father who never really processed some huge traumas in his life. As a strong willed young girl we clashed. My mother was beautiful and gentle and often too afraid to voice herself so I took on that role. I often think back to moments like being locked in a room with him for hours whilst he towered over us screaming abuse and terrifying us. And though as a therapist now and grown woman I can understand how he became this way, there was no empathy or remorse from him. It was always "you know not to do that" or "you know that makes me angry".
Throughout the years we had on/off contact and then last year I got the call he had been assaulted and was needing life threatening brain surgery. I threw every last cent we had plus a friend who helped at that time, into rushing to New Zealand to get to see him. Wondering if this would be it. Would this be his big turn around? Sadly like all the other times it wasn't. Even with him lying in a hospital bed hooked up to machines and only half conscious I was still terrified of him. He was my biggest fear and nightmare.
This is where love has conditions. Family is not a free pass to mistreat and expect you'll constantly wipe the slate clean. At some point you have to decide enough is enough. You have to assess whether someone is actually taking ownership for how they are and willing to work for change or if they are like my father was and say "you have to change I can't change". Every time I went back and gave another chance it broke me apart more. It affected my marriage, my friendships, my relationships with my brothers, everything. So I decided that was it. Until I see evidence of change this was the end for our connection.
One massive condition for love is safety. You should always feel safe. Often there are major intuitive warning signs that we choose to ignore in the hope that it will be different or that maybe it isn't so bad. Most times we have a deep gut feeling. To this day there is no ownership of his part. I begged him to apologise and he said he never ever would.
Now I am at a point in my life where I have love for him as a human but as a father he is far in the distance. I know as time passes he will attempt to slide back in hoping that time has erased it all but for me my first condition is ownership and effort.
I wanted to share this with you all as I hope it helps you think where you need your own conditions to love. What are the absolute deal breakers? I see so many people in my clinic with deep traumas and hurts and I have such a profound respect for them as they show up ready to do the work on themselves. It isn't our fault how we were raised and programmed, but it absolutely is our responsibility to change it and learn from it as adults.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing an abusive situation, or if this article triggered you please reach out. If you are in Australia there is lifeline you can call on 13 11 44.