What is love?
In one of our daily newspapers, there used to be a daily kind of cartoon with the heading “Love is…….” And then a picture of two people doing something or other, and then at the bottom, it would say what love was. Sometimes they were funny, but always there was a serious message. It might be something like “Love is…….washing his shirts for him when they are covered in paint,” or something similar. I loved those daily cartoons.
Ooops, there it goes again – that word– loved!
When I was at Teachers Training College many moons ago, we studied child psychology, and one very remarkable and well read book that everyone had to read was “Child Care and the Growth of Love” by John Bowlby. Some of you who are as ancient as me might remember it. It was very famous and a standard text.
This book affected me very very deeply, because it explained exactly how a child is affected psychologically when a mother either denies the child love or does terrible things to a child, which makes the child feel it is not loved. That is the message that it gets. The psychological effect upon the child can be devastating. It takes a lot to heal the wound/s in that child. Some become delinquents or much worse.
I saw myself in this. I was not loved. I was neglected, starved, and many other things too. But I had been determined not to let it affect me. I therefore managed to get to Teacher Training College.
I was lucky. I had two things going for me. The first was a loving grandmother, although we did not live near to her at all – but I did get to see her in the school holidays. The second was something that happened to me when I was 13. My mother’s abuse of me was at its worst at this time. But I started going to a Youth Club with some friends. This happened to be a Youth Club attached to a church, and there, one of the Leaders told me quite simply that God LOVED me. It changed my life – for ever. Whether or not you believe in God is kind of irrelevant, in a way, because the point I am making is that to be told you are loved is utterly vital to your life. Everyone needs to be loved. Without love we die. It is our lifeblood.
I went through my life buoyed up by this love.
My faith in it was tested sorely, however, as my mother continued to abuse me for the rest of my life. I am 71 now, and she is 93. She is on her way out now, and even as recently as when had cancer in 2013 she still abused me horrifically. She had greater access to me at that point, due to my having cancer and being bedfast,
In all of this I never stopped loving HER, whatever she did to me. I never wanted to pay her back, or hurt her. I knew that it must have been very deep pain inside her that made her like she was. So I forgave her. The hurt and pain that she caused me was enormous, but it did not affect my love for her. She never wanted the olive branch offered to her by me though, and hardened herself to me.
It was my deepest wish that before she died, she would love me, or just change in some way. On quite a few occasions she hurt me really badly, and certain religious people told me not to expect any change un her – that she would never change. In their view I was stupid for expecting that there might be change. But I couldn’t give up on her, however much she rejected me and my love for her.
This morning, in my post that I ultimately deleted, I mentioned something about this.
In fact, the religious people were wrong! This morning my refusal to stop loving her had results. She told me that she loved me for the first time in my life! I told her that I loved her. It was precious.
I rang my mother up this evening, and thanked her for what she had said, and said that whatever happened in the future, those words would stay with me for ever. She said to me,
“I meant them.”
In my book this is a miracle. She had been won over by my love for her despite everything.
I want to say to you, my readers, don’t ever give up. There is always hope. Keep loving. Don’t pay back evil for evil – though I truly know how hard that is.
But, the main message of this is – Love always wins. It really does if you keep ob loving and persevering to the end. It’s hard, but possible.
Thankyou for reading this