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Finding our generosity - On the topic of unconditional love

Updated: May 19, 2022

With or without you, in divorce court the fight continues. It is too difficult to leave without repair from somewhere. Safety is lost without unconditional love.

The story of love begins for all of us in childhood. Children innocently reach for our comfort, safety and understanding. They instinctively find their way to the soft eyes and bright smiles reflected in the love of their caretakers. They make their way. Glance by glance, step by step. A dynamic pattern speckled by a merging-separation cycle continues indefinitely between a parent and a child. Each pause, momentarily, hoping to get a glimpse of that blissful state of belonging. Humans have an unconscious drive to seek unconditional safety in love.

With each memory feeling experienced between two individuals, a child and caretaker, important social, environmental, neuro-biological pathways for knowing how relate to the world are formed. The pattern becomes the language of the algorithmic code that forms our individual personalities.

Grandiose self-love grows on a continuum in the absence of safety in love. The process of disconnection may begin early such as when parents emotionally or physically abandon, reject or shame children or each other. When this happens, children become quickly confused about their safety with others and protect themselves just as quickly from the loss. Sometimes parents can be heard telling their child to stop crying. This kind of reaction to a child’s overwhelming feelings is quite common and reflects just how hard it is for humans to experience conflict at all.

The irony however is that reactions such as avoiding, attacking – or trying to get rid of negative feelings or bring an end to the conflict, happen in vain. It is as futile as an effort to stop the sun from shinning (something I have certainly wanted to do in some summer months).

So narcissistic behaviors may be viewed as a strong attempt at securing love that doesn't seem secureable. It is an ingenious way actually for the emotionally abandoned or abused to experience a long-term sense of belonging. This behavior is not different from any other natural survival mechanisms that help us find a way to fit in - it is a valiant effort - to heal the emotional pain of attachment injuries in incomplete stages of repair.

Guilt is an important experience for all individuals. Those who learn to be emotionally passive remain careful to prioritize others’ needs over their own. The function of this coping mechanism is of course driven by fear. I sadly think of a “Florence and The Machine” song, A Kiss With a Fist is Better Than None. Those who fall high on the narcissistic spectrum are much less able to authentically experience guilt let alone share it. It makes interacting which such an individual and the coupling of two such individuals a chaotic storm.

It is a human desire to want to replay the first kiss, the innocence of being wanted, needed or desired. Sadly, when we don't stay connected - long enough - together with our feeling pain, such loss - we block a chance for change for us - the child, partner or caregiver. The giving and receiving of neutral presence provides an experience of relationship safety - long-term unconditional self-and-other love.

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