Author Topic: Defining love  (Read 1724 times)

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Offline Monroe

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Defining love
« on: April 24, 2014, 12:36:11 PM »
Hi everybody - been gone a while, but still reading.  I would like your help in defining love. 

I always had a good relationship with my mother - who is now a very elderly invalid.  Several years ago (and it was gradual) the personality change began.  For fifty years, she was a wonderful, loving mom.  At first it was isolated incidents - now it is constant complaints, criticisms, etc.   She has become very demanding (we have 24/7 care for her - but she is isolated and still demanding of the adult children's time and attention).  My siblings do their share - I don't bear the majority of the responsibility.  But I am the one in her cross-hairs.  I am exhausted.  Still visit because my sweet father is still living.  But I am exhausted and dread seeing her, since it will be just more complaints. 

Not all complaints are directed at me -- sometimes she just wants to criticize other people and have me join in - which I refuse to do.  I don't like it when grade-schoolers are bullies and pick on other kids.  I'm not about to join in a gossip-fest criticizing this neighbor or that old friend - or even her DIL.  So when she criticizes this or that relative, I just say, "Mom, I think he/she is nice - or trying as hard as he/she can - or I say this is really none of our business.  Like when a cousin got divorced she wanted me to ask around and find out why they got divorced.  No way in  &%$#**  am I ever going to do that!! 

It's driving me nuts.  I want to think that I love her, but I don't feel it.  I don't enjoy her company at all.  I just brace myself for the complaints, the outbursts of temper - the twisting/distorting of what I say or do - so that she can complain about me later.  But I do my duty.  I visit 2-3 times a week.  I take over little treats.  I am all smiles - and never fail to give her a kiss when I leave.  I don't tell her what to do - no suggestions from me - the caregivers can do that, as she resents any suggestions from her children. 

But I am going nuts.  I want to think that I love her.  I know I did.  I know I love the mother she was.  There's just nothing likable about who she is now.  But I do still do my duty.

Does love have to include warm fuzzes?  If I honor her position as my mother - if I do my duty - If I "hum a few bars and fake it" by always smiling, visiting, taking treats, - even tho it is just on the surface - does that count as love? 

Can duty count as love? 

I have to continually battle not to feel guilty - but the only way to please her is to spend hours a day with her, and join in mean gossip about the few people she still knows who aren't dead. 

Please - I want to love her - how can I feel that I do if all I feel is a sense of duty?  Does that count???

Thanks, ladies. 


Offline luise.volta

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2014, 01:30:20 PM »
M., my take is that everyone and everything isn't loveable. And that which was does not always remain so. I also think there are as many definitions of love as there are individuals and perhaps even loving moments experienced by each individual.

There poisonous plants, insects, reptiles and animals that we may love esoterically but not want to get too close to. I find there are people of that ilk, as well. Even some who once were lovable but are no longer. We can love them without getting too close...or if closeness is required, love from a sense of self-protection on some level.

The love of tolerance, the love of remembering 'when', the love from obligation is still love but for most of us it may not nurture. Most of us need nurturing and when it is missing, we feel it. It isn't an exchang and it can be a drain.

For me, I nave to be clear what my role is in relationship to my expectations and needs. I have learned to love from a distance when needed to maintain my own well being because self-love is what fuels most of us. We also have belief systems that nurture us and those are intensely personal and varied.

My heart knows love...the giving and receiving of it. And it knows the lack of love and the need for acceptance and distance....mitigation. That's what it comes down to for me, loving consciously. 
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline Footloose

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 01:18:23 PM »
Dearest Monroe,  How lucky your mom is to have you in her corner in spite of her personality issues!  I do the same for my mom who has been like yours her whole life.  I still love her and respect her but must limit my exposure to her toxicity because it can make me physically ill and she can push all the right buttons...if  I let her...  I so get what you are saying but you do have some ownership regarding your own happiness and in setting limits to enable your own peaceful existence.  Love or not, what you are facing with your mom is not healthy for you. 

I started ending my conversations and visits if after one correction of. "oh mom, I know you are hurt by the others or may be upset about some issue not involving me, so please talk to THEM about it and leave me out? Guess what?  She has started abiding by my boundaries and it took me over 48 yrs to figure it out!  .....

I will say something like, "Wow it sounds like you are having a bad day and having a great pity party to boot but I cannot help here and your complaining and bad mouthing others is something that gives me a headache.  I chose not to be part of the problem.  I'm leaving, hanging up for today but I'll call you tomorrow in hopes you're feeling better so we can have a nice chat.

You still call on her, still visit, still bring her treats but no longer take her negativity, trash talk, complaining, whining or cussing like my 80 YO mom....sheesh!   I do love my mom and wil for the rest of my life but I do not like her most of the time because of her own attitude and bad behavior. 

Even tho she's your mom, you can leave her to her own misery if she chooses to make life hard on you.  You can take Pop for a car ride or go on the roof or in the basement too so the time out can work in any setting.

Wishing you peace, dear sister!

Offline Monroe

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2014, 10:15:59 PM »
Thanks for the support, Luise and Footloose.  FL, you also gave me some tips in a previous post, which I appreciate very much and try to use.  It's all about boundaries - just can be hard to set them with an elderly mother.  But I'm working on it.  Getting better.  Thanks


Offline freespirit

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2014, 05:48:12 AM »
Hi Monroe,
After spending 6 years as the only visitor and care taker for my Mom, I'm very aware of the stress factor. I have to say though that my mother never spoke about others negatively. I often thought she took too much grief  from others, and didn't stand up for herself enough. Although my mother was a sweet kind and loving person, I still had to organize activity things with her. If I didn't, she got depressed or bored.

Maybe your mom is simply bored and needs distractions. There're a lot of ideas on-line about how to occupy a senior's day. But here are some of the things I did with my Mom. We sang together. I had music books and lyrics, since both of us often forgot the words. I took her out to social gatherings; many of them were free. We went on walks through parks. I took her out on drives, with her favorite strawberry milkshake in the cup holder. I always selected beautiful music to drive by. I read to her, and we discussed what I read. We shopped together. Actually the list is endless. And my own personal mission was to make her laugh, which worked every time. That's when my love for my Mom bloomed. I think the best memories I have of my mother were duringt the last years we spent together.

One time my mother was complaining about her life, something she  did more frequently as she  got older. I then told her it makes me really unhappy to hear how sad she is. I said I give my best to make you feel good, but I guess it's not enough. She said she never realized that her complaining upset me so much.  So maybe you should just tell your mother, gently, of course how unhappy her bickering make you feel. She might not realize how she comes across.

Don't give up on your love. You might just have to seek another way to discover it again.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne

Offline Pooh

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 06:46:07 AM »
I also find that I love people so differently.  I love my Brother because of my childhood memories of him but I don't like the adult he has become.  I love bunches of people but the true test is if I like them.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline cynthiakayaks

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2014, 02:21:03 PM »
That's tough. I also have a difficult mother.
I try to think about if I were the one whose mind was deteriorating and my health was failing…would my mother be there for ME?
Funny, I truly cannot say if she would be or not but I CERTAINLY would be for my children and I continue to do so for my mother.
I like to think that families should have unconditional love for each other…sad part is that the rest of my family doesn't really practice this ideal.
I have no answers but I'm sure grateful I found this website!!!!!

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2014, 02:49:25 PM »
I sometimes look at this subject from the reverse point of view. I am 87 and living in a retirement center that has independent living (where I now reside), assisted care and a nursing facility. My DH died here a little over a year ago at the age of 101. He had no idea who I was nor any of his family. (We married when he was 78.) When there is a surviving spouse, I think it may be a little different. I saw Val daily and told everyone else that it was up to them. I had no    idea what they should do and supported what they chose...which was to stay away. It didn't seem selfish to me...it was just too painful and they felt I had it covered.

When my turn comes, there will be no daily visits from a loving spouse. I look at my biological son and my six sort-of daughters and know someone will be there for me. Not daily...they don't live close and have full lives. What will help, if I am cogent, is that I have lived here for 14 years already and the staff and residents know and love me. I won't be or feel alone...unless dementia takes over. Then all bets are off. I have seen people here who were visited daily and were sure no one ever came to see them.

One of my friends here is in assisted living has his wife in nursing. He never goes to see her because she thinks another patient there is the love of her life and it's just too hard for him, even when that illusion brings her great joy. None of it is easy. Not from anything I have seen. We each do our best and what I have had to do it let go of how that plays out for others.

It's a tough situation and there are so many ways to approach it. Personalities differ, as do ethics. I have seen every possible solution and lack thereof here. One time I saw grown grand kids fighting over someones meager possessions as she lay there, dying.

Mostly these end of life issues can leave us with more questions.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline herbalescapes

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2014, 08:21:20 AM »
Monroe, cut yourself some slack.  I remember when you first posted this, I didn't reply, but now I am.  There are all sorts of love - romantic, filial, friendship, patriotic, chocolate, religious, etc.  How many of us had the warm fuzzies when our newborns were keeping us up all night?  Did that mean we didn't love our kids?  Of course not.  Love is a verb more than a noun.  Love is what we do.  Caring for your mom, even if it is out duty and not the warm fuzzies, is love.  Don't knock duty.  The world would be a much nicer place if people would remember their duty - to family, friends, neighbors, community, etc. - instead of being guided by what feels good to them in the moment.  I attended Catholic school and I remember one year the nun told us how wise God was to tell us to love our neighbor, not like them.  If we love our neighbor, we treat them with the basic decency everyone deserves as a child of God.  Liking our neighbor would mean we had to invite them to our birthday party.  We may not like someone, but we can always love them - maybe not the warm fuzzy love, but the basic human love. 

Offline Monroe

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Re: Defining love
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2014, 07:25:59 AM »
Monroe, cut yourself some slack.  I remember when you first posted this, I didn't reply, but now I am.  There are all sorts of love - romantic, filial, friendship, patriotic, chocolate, religious, etc.  How many of us had the warm fuzzies when our newborns were keeping us up all night?  Did that mean we didn't love our kids?  Of course not.  Love is a verb more than a noun.  Love is what we do.  Caring for your mom, even if it is out duty and not the warm fuzzies, is love.  Don't knock duty.  The world would be a much nicer place if people would remember their duty - to family, friends, neighbors, community, etc. - instead of being guided by what feels good to them in the moment.  I attended Catholic school and I remember one year the nun told us how wise God was to tell us to love our neighbor, not like them.  If we love our neighbor, we treat them with the basic decency everyone deserves as a child of God.  Liking our neighbor would mean we had to invite them to our birthday party.  We may not like someone, but we can always love them - maybe not the warm fuzzy love, but the basic human love. 

Thanks, Herbal.  I needed that!   :)