Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Is It Possible to Love Without Attachment?

That is one of the areas in which I am currently exploring the possibilities. It is not completely clear to me how this is done, although I have experienced a degree of success in this area. I'll tell you about that in a moment.

I really don't care for the word "detached". It sounds cold, impersonal, unfeeling. And, as someone who came into this life with a propensity to feel everything deeply, it sounds unappealing to me. But maybe that's just the meaning with which I have infused the word. Let's see what dictionary.com has to say about it...

1. not attached; separated:
3. impartial or objective; disinterested; unbiased
4. not involved or concerned; aloof.

American Heritage Dictionary:

1. Separated; disconnected:
3. Marked by an absence of emotional involvement and an aloof, impersonal objectivity.


1. showing lack of emotional involvement;
2. being or feeling set or kept apart from others;
3. no longer connected or joined;

Okay, that does it. I definitely do not like this word.

On the other hand, I understand that attachment is the cause of the emotional pain we create for ourselves. And yes, we do create it. No one has the power to make us feel anything at all.

So, how to love without attachment...because it is not the loss of contact or connection with another human being that causes us pain...it is the wrenching of that attachment from our tightly clenched fingers (and hearts) that hurts so much.

Okay, here's what I have come to understand in the past about this. When my children were small, I worried a lot about what might happen to them. When they were babies, I would check to make sure they were breathing. I kept a close watch on them constantly for fear of losing them. They were my dreams come true. Losing them would be the worst possible thing I could imagine happening in this life.

Further, I tried very hard to keep them from getting hurt. Until I learned that not only is it impossible to keep someone else from getting hurt, it is not even loving. Yes, we want them to understand how to take good care of themselves and to make choices that will benefit them, but to keep them from experimenting and learning from natural consequences is unkind.

For the most part, my children have brought me great joy. However, there have been some decisions they have made that I didn't care for. The good thing is, these served to remind me that I really didn't have control, and that control was not my job, anyway. My job was to love, teach and be there for them. Their job is to create their lives as they wish to experience them. Now, this is a very difficult thing for a mother who already feels things intensely, because when my children hurt, I am pretty sure I hurt more. Nevertheless, it is very liberating to realize that you don't have to try and control what you can't control anyway.

This same principle operates in all our earthly relationships. We do not have control over any other person. We cannot choose for them. We can choose whether to honor their free will or waste time and energy trying to get them on board with our ideas of "how things ought to be".

One of the things that is serving as an excellent reminder of how to grow in our relationships is the book I am currently reading, Conversations With God, by Neale Donald Walsch.

Consider these ideas: [speaking from the standpoint of coming from the question 'What is the highest choice?' or the question 'How can I lose the least?'] "When life is lived from the standpoint of damage control or optimum advantage, the true benefit of life is forfeited. The opportunity is lost...For a life lived thusly is a life lived from fear - and that life speaks a lie about you.

For you are not fear, you are love. Love that needs no protection, love that cannot be lost. Yet you will never know this in your experience if you continually ask the second question and not the first. For only a person who thinks there is something to gain or to lose asks the second question. And only a peron who sees life in a different way; who sees Self as a higher being; who understands that winning or losing is not the test, but only loving or failing to love - only that person asks the first...at the critical juncture in all human relationships, there is only one question: What would love do now?

Now we come upon a very delicate point of interpretation, for this principle..has been widely misunderstood...the highest choice is that which produces the highest good for you...this truth revolves around an even greater one: What you do for your Self, you do for another. What you do for another, you do for your Self. This is because you and the other are one.

So often, under the old understandings, people...did what they thought would be best for the other person in their relationships. Sadly, all this produced in many cases...was continued abuse by the other. Continued mistreatment. Continued dysfunction in the relationship.

...if you look to what is best for you in situations where you are being abused, at the very least what you will do is stop the abuse. And that will be good for both you and your abuser. For even an abuser is abused when his abuse is allowed to continue.

This is not healing to the abuser, but damaging. For if the abuser finds his abuse is acceptable, what has he learned? Yet if the abuser finds that his abuse will be accepted no more, what has he been allowed to discover?"

While we may not have control over what another person does, we do have responsibility for creating our own life experience. And sometimes, the most loving thing we can do for another is to allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. And the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and the other is to remove ourselves from the dysfunctional relationship.

This is much easier said than done...this coming from someone who has approached this decision and stepped back from it several times over the past few years.

Hey, I didn't say I was a Master. But I'm working on it.

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