On True Love
“If my husband leaves me, good. If my husband stays, that’s good, too.”
Byron Katie is such an extraordinary human being who is living her life from an utterly different place than most of us do. Since I learned about her work several years ago, I have been totally fascinated, intrigued and mesmerized by her completely different outlook on life.
Many of the things I’ve heard her say in her books and multiple Internet videos made total sense to me. Many things caused profound realizations and helped my life become better. But when I read this quote in “A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are,” I gasped.
“WOW!!!” I thought. “What freedom!!! And what unconditional love!!!”
Byron Katie is living what she is teaching, and I have great respect and admiration for her, but I’ve always known that I would never be able to repeat that quote of hers and mean it. This was waaaaaay beyond what my mind or heart were capable of doing. Or so I thought…
Most of us have been trained to believe that love must be earned. As children, we did the things that our parents and teachers wanted us to do and they smiled at us, praised us, gave us good grades, bought us presents… We did something “wrong” and felt the pain of falling out of favor…
That quickly became our second nature and our own way of relating to others. This is how we treat our pets, children, friends, colleagues and partners. Yes, even partners.
We usually continue loving our life partners if they change in some way, but we all have our limits and certain conditions become signals to take our love back.
Would you still love your partner if he gained weight? (This is a “yes” for most people.) Lost his job? (Still a “yes,” mostly.) Picked up a bad habit? (We begin losing people here.) Had an affair? (Very few people stick around at this point.) Left you?..
Could you continue loving your partner if he chose to leave you?..
Is his being in your life a condition for your loving him? Could you keep loving him from a distance?..
And what if he’s fallen in love with another person? Could you continue holding him tenderly in your heart the way you did when you were the object of his attention?..
We’ve all been taught that there are certain situations that require a withdrawal of love, that make love impossible, unnecessary, shameful even, and for many of us “our partner’s leaving and falling in love with another person” is in that category.
Under such circumstances, many people feel justified to become angry, bitter or even violent. Somehow we make our partner’s decision to go mean something about us and affect our self-worth. Somehow we convince ourselves that there might be a flaw in a Creation of God (us).
We feel the pain of separation, loss and sudden emptiness and use that as an excuse to cut off the flow of love towards that person. It sounds like the right and logical thing to do, and our friends and family agree.
But what if we kept loving people even when they didn’t love us back anymore? Even if they fell in love with someone else? What if we continued loving them through that? (And I don’t mean “continued living with them,” but simply “loving them.”)
Not in a clingy, needy, obsessive, self-sacrificing or self-destructive way, not as martyrs, but in a healthy and kind way, as people who sincerely wish happiness to their loved ones. How would our lives be different?..
This is what I’ve just realized: When I worry about who loves or doesn’t love me, who thinks well or poorly of me, who criticizes or praises me… – when I am too much in my head about what other people think of me, I get nervous, anxious, worried and often upset.
When I just love everyone, then that’s the feeling I am living in. Regardless of what those people feel towards me, I feel love and peace.
Even if they don’t like me. Even if they’ve left me. Even if they now choose to spend their time with someone else. Regardless of anything they say or do, my reality is love, peace and harmony.
Pain, anxiety and depression OR love, peace and joy?
All of a sudden Byron Katie’s quote doesn’t sound so illogical, unrealistic or mysterious anymore: “If my husband leaves me, good. If my husband stays, that’s good, too…”
Do I still have a strong preference for my partner’s staying? Of course, I do! I believe that personal relationships can be one of the most enjoyable, fun, delicious and precious experiences on this planet.
Do I believe that someone who wants to go must stay to please me, or else? No. Everyone, and especially the people I love, are free to experience whatever they choose for themselves in their lifetime. They have my complete support, blessing and, of course, unconditional love.
What about me?
I am off to have fun, to laugh, to create, to discover and explore, to travel… – to live my own life!
In the feeling of love, joy and peace…