I am sitting with a plant named Bruno. “Bruno” on its label let’s me know so. So, I ask about Bruno. Bruno once belonged to Deniz. Deniz gave the wilting Bruno to Ines. Ines revived and relocated Bruno. Bruno is back to verdure and now sitting pertly on an unoccupied desk at an agency in Frankfurt, where I sit writing.
To me, Bruno is a symbol of love given and received, but not replayed. You see, Ines didn’t have to care for Bruno. Bruno can’t give much in return. After all, despite the name, Bruno is still a plant.
You may be thinking, “Just a minute, Ines probably felt good about helping Deniz!” OR “Ines certainly had the satisfaction of nurturing a helpless being back to life.” OR “Ines can enjoy looking at Bruno each and every day on that desk.” AND “That’s getting something.”
Ah, maybe true. But that’s only part of the story.
The reason I noticed Bruno at all is this: I found out, I give love to get love (personal realization 1,479, internally logged last week during a conversation on Friday). I’m not saying every time or that it has always been so. Perhaps as a child I gave love unselfishly, maybe even often. But I certainly can’t recall too many times in the recent past where I can honestly argue on my behalf.
On a shallow level, selfish love may look and feel like this:
- Send an SMS (=attention),
expect to receive an SMS in return (= response).
- “Like” someone’s Facebook status (=affirmation),
intend to get liked back at some point (=repayment).
- Care about someone (=affection),
want to be cared for equally (=reciprocation) – preferably soon.
- And on and on, until the bill is settled.
On a deeper level, a reaction to non-requitted love (e.g. when disappointed hard or long enough by someone else), can sound like this:
- Get shocked and sulk.
- Follow with empathy/sympathy-modus = supposed understanding of their feelings and actions + forgiveness of their “wrong doing”.
- Chalk it up to their hard life, failed character or whatever the current and so-called insight might be.
- Call it a lesson learned and feel inner gratefulness – just not being them.
- Begin the “distance stage”, withdrawing from the friendship slightly or even leaving the relationship entirely.
All well and good right? In today’s society we have been taught to demand the love we need and not to let ourselves be abused by others. Fine to some degree, but overall this approach doesn’t fit to me the same way it used to.
I recently had to ask myself some new questions: When is the love I have enough? What is the quality of my love if it is primarily based on a return policy? Who am I to judge and cry poison when it doesn’t come back as I expected? Am I lacking in emotional endurance? And most importantly, am I capable of giving love without all the expectations?
Thank God for Maya Angelou who said, “When we knew better, we did better.”
I for me have decided I now know better and can no longer rest on the ideas of reciprocal rights and self-protection. I have already received enough love for a lifetime. I am smart enough to know when it’s time to put up a shield and strong enough to endure the discomfort that might precede it. Until then, I am making every effort to drop my expectations (not always, but more and more often) and give love, JUST BE-CAUSE…
- I have enough love to share and enough time to nurture.
- I might be able to contribute to the revival of a once wilting heart.
- I want to watch a living being grow stronger.
Like Ines did, for the love of Bruno.
Until we meet again,
[Today’s blog post is dedicated to Marilena. Thank you for your friendship and your unfaltering straightforwardness.]