For instance, I believe if you Love someone, you would do nothing to harm them. You don't do mean little things out of spite; you don't seek to "get even." More than that, you proactively think of them and their feelings. It's not all about you any more, not once you Love another.
With one's child, it's pretty easy to figure out how to Love - at least, at first. A mother aligns her very soul with her firstborn's soul. She studies that little one's face for a ripple of displeasure, watches for muscle relaxation that means relief of tension. She seeks to please that baby. Intently.
Some people aren't able to step far enough out of themselves to please someone else. All they can do is manipulate circumstances in order to hopefully elicit a response that mimics pleasing others. Whether it's the pretense of a positive behavior, a gift, an apology, or a physical action, the outward illusion is that of consideration while the reality is manipulation.
Manipulation does not equal Love. Or even love.
When I feel vulnerable, I tend towards selfishness. Lately, I catch myself NEEDING so much that I have to consciously refrain from feeling guilty about it. I remind myself that this is a temporary thing, a phase. It is appropriate to need right now. I have a deficit to correct.
I sense it filling.
Back to that mother. The mature mother soothes the baby because she wants the baby to be happy. The mother's peace-of-mind is an offshoot, a benefit, not the goal. Her prime directive is the child's happiness. Some folks can't function that way. For them, the goal is to stop their own discomfort. Baby cries? Soothe so I don't hear baby crying any more. Baby feeling comforted is the side effect.
The same thing happens with apologies. Someone feels bad because they did something, well, bad to another person. They ritually apologize. Repeatedly. What is the motivation though? Do they apologize because they sincerely feel sorrow for the hurt they caused someone else; do they apologize because they feel uncomfortable knowing they did something wrong that caused hurt to someone else, and they want to stop feeling uncomfortable? Put another way, are you sorry you hurt me, or are you sorry that you feel guilty because you hurt me? Which feeling is stronger? That's what I thought.
Some people apologize the same way they love. They demonstrate outward actions and behaviors that simulate Love when all they really are, are means to an end. And the end always comes back to them and their comfort.
I guess some psychologists would say that ultimately everything comes back to us and our comfort, that there is no real stepping out of ourselves for someone else. I tend to disagree. Perhaps to my very real detriment, I am someone who does self-sacrifice for others at times. Often, it is painful but I think ultimately, it is what suits me.
Looking back over this post, it strikes me as rambling and disjointed. I have to trust that the common thread, the theme shines through. It is what it is; this is the best I can do today. And it is enough. I leave you with Love. ~~GHC