Today in Bikram, during ustrasana (camel pose)–a punishing pose that can leave you feeling nauseous, lightheaded and then amazing immediately thereafter–the instructor quickly glossed over an idea about opening the heart chakra and thus increasing our capacity for “unconditional love.” Unconditional love is a phrase that gets bandied about on the regular. It’s a nice concept, but I guess I’ve never really thought about it in too much depth. Today, that changed. I wondered if partners (lovers) ever really achieve unconditional love. I believe that parents can experience unconditional love for their children, though that is not always the case. Between grown adults, I think it is somewhat uncommon.
I have a relative whose marriage of many decades has ended. This is not one of these we’re-grown-adults-who’ve-made-the-thoughtful-and-loving-decision-to-end-our-relationship, but, from what I gather, it is an especially painful dissolution (I’ve “gathered” this from Facebook where she has been very open about the, what seems like very sudden, end to her marriage). It has made me wonder more about love. If someone unconditionally loves another, they can have all manner of bad behavior and the love never ceases. I guess maybe that’s where the pain comes from–not necessarily the lack of love or hate, but the pain of watching someone you love do something that is against your will.
That’s where letting go of expectations comes into play. I think loving someone unconditionally means letting go of expectations for how they should behave. Likewise, unconditional love is not contingent upon good or expected behavior.
I’m not sure if I truly have unconditional love in my relationship. I mean, we’re *really* in love, but love (including our love) changes and evolves. Over the last six years, we may not always behave in ways that the other would prefer, we still have always love each other and want the best for each other. Sometimes these lost expectations mean that we aren’t actually together and a good deal of heartbreak sometimes ensues. Sometimes it’s painful. The vast majority of the time knowing him is fun, funny, and interesting. For now, I’m trying to learn what it means to be in a relationship, and more specifically to be in this relationship and to love this man.