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So many kinds of love are a part of our lives. Love for our parents and siblings, love for friends, the exquisite love we strive for in a partner and the unquestioning love we feel for our children; all are different and all require different responses from us. Some are easy and bring joy and great memories; and some are so difficult we find ourselves wondering if it is worth it, if this love requires more than we are willing to give. How much is too much?
Parents and siblings are the typically the backbone of our experience in learning what love means. We arrive pretty much helpless and learn what it means to trust, to forgive and to give, all determined by the manner in which our parents have learned these same things from their parents and then taught them to us. For some, these relationships are the biggest blessing in their lives. They know they can always come home, and always receive good advice that is intended for their highest and best good. For about 30% of the population, this is a reality. The other 70% fall somewhere in between parents that meant well and simply did not have the parenting skills or those who had emotional issues so deeply embedded into their personalities that the children were all adversely affected, for life if they do not realize what has happened and take steps to repair the damage.
Setting boundaries about how much we are willing to forgive or excuse in our love relationships is one of the things we learn from our parents and siblings and the manner in which we were directed to accept behavior within the family. While a lot has been written about dysfunctional families, it is difficult to determine what the normal is and where things go awry to the point of being dysfunctional. Life happens; unexpected changes arrive in families, parents may become terminally ill, lose a job, lose the family home or even go to prison. It is not the events that occur that determine how we learn to cope. It is the response to those changes that teach us where to draw the line and what to accept from the people we love. And this is so very important. Temporary adverse changes help us to become stronger emotionally. They challenge us and force us to think outside the box and look for solutions.
Emotional and physical abuse that is not honestly confronted and dealt with swiftly teaches us to become willing victims in life, to accept the unacceptable and to expect much less than life was prepared to offer us. Again, it is not that it may have happened in our lives, but what the response to it was that taught us where to draw the line.
You can't retreat back to your childhood to fix what was broken or what you learned that was an inappropriate response to events in your life. Likewise, there is little to be gained from assigning blame, somehow imagining that that will fix things that are fragmented. What is helpful is to step back to the times where things were painful or confusing and look closely at the events. These kinds of gut responses are signals from your higher consciousness, they are the red flags thrown up to caution you that the responses are not correct. It is here that you will find where the road turned and where the lessons you learned were not the ones you should repeat in your adult life.
How much is too much to pardon, forgive or excuse? You draw the line on all of these questions when you reset your boundaries to a healthy place where you understand that you cannot love someone more than they love themselves or forgive more than your pain threshold will permit for you to be emotionally healthy and safe