When you love you give part of yourself away, you give part of yourself up. Someone else takes up that part. You think about them, how to care for them, how to show them you care, how to make them happy. You think about them when you see something funny that would make them laugh, or something that they would find beautiful or would appreciate.
These thought rarely replace our thought and needs concerning our self. With love for your children it might be different. Some parents expect nothing except they wish for their kids to be happy. Others unfortunately might not love their children like that and expect them to achieve things they failed at themselves, or choose the path that they think is best rather than letting their offspring make up their own minds.
My mother for one seems to be a selflessly loving mother, which I am eternally grateful for. It is only now that I am an adult and can discuss my growing up with her that I see how much she struggled and suffered for me and my dear brother, all only to help us find happiness, preferably long term.
Selfless love is tricky. My mother has mentioned various tough moments in which she didn’t know or couldn’t help us, and it caused her extreme distress. In romantic love, giving your love without expecting something back is difficult for most of us. Some get absorb by love, which often can lead to possessiveness and spawn feelings of jealousy as well as develop into dependency: I can’t live without you. I need you. etc
Others fail to put themselves aside at all and give to the point of exhaustion. This being more my case, I know how it feels when you invest energy, love, care and often money to help someone and make them happy. Luckily enough in my case when this is unrequited I wake up reasonably quickly and don’t suffer for years on end.
Then there are people who fail to include their love into their system. People who, despite actually loving someone intensely at moments, are not capable of giving themselves up every now and then, or often enough, or whatever would be necessary to strike a balance in the relationship. This results in devastating feelings of frustration and guilt on both sides.
The problem here would be, like with most issues concerning the care for each other and the exchange of love in that sense, the different “languages” of love. The way our own self deals with love, giving and receiving. Some like expressing themselves with words or by giving/making gifts, others treasure intimacy or time spend together. The solution is clear: understand your lovers way of expressing themselves, recognize and appreciate it. It is not necessary to change yours as long as you understand theirs.
Love takes up parts of ourselves. It requires change in the sense that being closer to someone requires adapting yourself to the other. Making compromises is key. Unfortunately some people are unable to change their priorities and give anything more of themselves up. Some do learn very slowly, so slowly that you believe your suffering was worth it only to discover that now someone else is suffering because of their lack of growth and selflessness, which you once invested in.
I have heard troubling things recently, related to that last paragraph. They have upset me to the point where I dream of them repeatedly, and recently set someone on fire in one of those dreams. It is new to me that my investment in a person, and my suffering for and because of said person has no positive results whatsoever. I recently also terminated a friendship because it was one sided and all the investment came from my side and the taking from theirs.
I guess I have learned to protect myself from emotional leeches that will bleed me dry. I have also realised that those leeches are unlikely to improve in their maturity and emotional responsibility towards those they cherish.
They might have not grown, but I have, and for now, a year after my father’s death, that is all I need to know.
Love and Be Loved, (unless you are a leech 😉 )