Last week’s blog post was a touching mother-daughter profile by Gretchen and Laura. This week, Laura returns to share a candid story about her mother’s unconditional love – one that gave her invaluable insight about herself and her other relationships.
As a life coach, it is my distinct privilege to be privy to my clients’ deepest, darkest secrets. It’s a unique relationship. Often, it’s the first time in my clients’ lives that they get to experience being equal partners with another person, in the service of a common goal — seeing a specific result that they want in their own lives.
This week I was on a Skype session with a client. This woman is exceptional. Mother of two, married over twenty years, hungry for what is next in her life, and honestly, pretty fed up about how things are going in her marriage. It occurred to me that while my client said she was committed to her relationship, there were a ton of conditions. I asked her when in her life she had experienced unconditional love.
She struggled to find an answer. What came up was a conversation with her mother, years and years ago. She was angry with her mom, and said, “Well, whose side are you on anyway?!” Her mom simply replied, “I’m always on yours, always.”
She got vulnerable and immediately went to a place of, “Was that the last time? Do I have it anymore, since my mom has passed? What is wrong with me?”
We often relate to unconditional love like it is something we are entitled to but don’t know how to give — or, conversely, something we are always searching for but never worthy of (which camp are you in?).
I remember the moment in my life when I knew what unconditional love was.
The year I went through my coaches’ training program, my parents were separated and headed for divorce. If you are reading this, and you are an adult child of divorce, you probably get it.
Divorce brings out the worst. Long story short, I had gone home to visit for a few days and instigated a giant fight with my mom. My poor mother. What I said was dumb and selfish. She got angry and sad and we had the biggest fight I’ve ever had with another human being. I don’t even remember how it went or what happened, but I remember being there, telling her all this stuff I’d felt and been afraid to say, and through no fault of hers, there I was saying things that really hurt her.
I sat there on her bed crying, feeling horrible and honestly scared that she wouldn’t get me or accept me. Did I just ruin everything? I know now this is all a reflection of my own value of me — and yet it was the first time I felt like I was letting my mom “see” me. (The joke is on me, I bet any mom reading this would say, ‘we always see you.’) I had hurt her, and I was sitting there rejecting myself and on some level waiting to find out if she, too, would reject me.
But instead, she hugged me. My mom hugged me and held my hands and we cried together for a long time. I think I got a cold because I was up so late crying and talking and sharing.
To this day, I think, wow. WOW. Even in the depths of divorce and despair and confusion and heartbreak, here is my mom, choosing to love me over and over.
I shared this story with my client, and I told her that was when I understood what it would mean to love myself unconditionally. And that’s what it will mean to love my partner unconditionally. The good, the bad, the ugly. The freedom inside of that choice. The trust. What becomes available in that relationship. I believe Katy Perry said it best, “There is no fear, let go and just be free. I will love you unconditionally.”
My client got that how she loves her husband is a direct reflection of how she loves herself. And she decided to go tell her husband she was going to be all the way in from now on (I am very excited to hear how this goes. Talk about vulnerability!).
Mom and I don’t really talk about the night of our big argument, but I know it was a turning point for our relationship. We had both been trying so hard to be strong throughout the divorce, and I’d made up a lot of stories about what was in the way of us truly connecting (hint: all in my head). My mom inspires me every day in how she springs out of bed and flies through the life she has built for herself. I learn so much from watching her, from who she was being for us throughout the divorce, and the spritely power she brings everywhere.
To all mommies – thank you for the gift of unconditional love. You deserve everything back in spades. And don’t you forget it. And Mom – if your boyfriend is not treating you like a queen and accepting you and loving you unconditionally, I am going to kick his little Australian butt.
About Laura Westman: Laura is a coach in private practice. She works one-on-one with remarkable women who want to deepen, create, or reinvent their relationships. As an ontological coach, she works with the whole being of her clients and in any area of life they want to transform, but her forte is in love. If you are interested in working with her, you are welcome to call her for a complimentary consultation to look together at your future and answer questions about coaching. 412-701-1018 // laurawestman.com // firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a story you’d like to share about your mother’s unconditional love? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or send us a guest post at email@example.com