Being an overthinker sucks. When thoughts come into my head or accusations are hurled at me by thoughtless friends or individuals, I often spend a lot of time analyzing their meanings. What if? How? Why? I always wonder about the reasons behind someone’s actions towards me. Were they in the right? Was I? Do I need to change who I inherently am? Such is the life of an overthinker.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about love, especially the unconditional kind. Unconditional love, to me, means that you love another human, regardless of what they can or are willing to do for you. It means you love this person for who they are and not who or what you want them to be. We often hear this in the terms of parents who disown their children for not living the life the parents wished for them. The child may be LGBTQ, he/she/or they may not practice a religion they were raised in, or the child simply doesn’t share the parents’ philosophies in life. In an ideal world, such parents would embrace the child and who they are with love, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Many parents kick these children out and disown them, forcing them to find their own way in life, alone and brokenhearted. These parents are placing conditions on their love that the child simply cannot live up to without betraying who they are.

However, there is another aspect of unconditional love that we don’t often think about it; our lovers. Oftentimes people enter into a relationship on the wings of euphoria. There is absolutely nothing about the other person that you dislike; your new partner is perfect in your eyes. But as time marches on and the enchantment fades, we realize things about our partner, and ourselves, that aren’t in perfect harmony. We had ideas in our head of what the relationship would look like that perhaps didn’t align with our partners. When the newness is no longer fresh, perhaps the things we were doing for each other become tedious, and our efforts to make the other person happy diminish. Depending on what these things are, it can make or break a relationship.

Yet, if the love is real, even in the face of our own devastation, disappointment, it will live on. That to me is unconditional love. A love that defies even absence and anguish; it continues to endure in our hearts. I can now say, I don’t like what you did. I don’t like the way you did it. Some aspects were cruel and unnecessary. You could have handled things better, been less defensive when I voiced my suffering, had more care for the pain and hurt you were inflicting. But, unconditional love says that no matter what, I want you to be happy, even if that happiness is with someone else. I want you to be true to yourself, even if that takes you in a direction other than the one I held in my heart. Unconditional love means I acknowledge the heartache I endure, but I love you just the same and acknowledge you did the best you knew how. We’re all broken, none of us are perfect.

What unconditional love does not mean, however, is that I become lost in that anguish. It does not mean I am a doormat waiting, imploring for you to return, holding the door open for you to reenter my life as if nothing ever happened. Because while I love you, I also must love myself enough to move on with my life, to forge a new and different path than the one I was on with you. I must find someone who respects me enough to talk to me about what is amiss rather than letting it fester until the situation becomes untenable. I must find someone who loves me with the same passion and honesty that I gave to you that I will give them.

Unconditional love means I love you enough to let you go.

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