“So much of what we need to do to free our hearts and souls is simply to acknowledge the truth. The rest will happen naturally.”
Melody Beattie (Journey to the Heart)
Some of us learned as children that love can be used to control and manipulate others. We didn't set out to be spiteful, and in fact, were most likely quite unconscious of the dance. What we did feel was the strong sense that something wasn't quite right—we felt a little resentful, or perhaps a little guilty. When love is used as a device for control, it is particularly toxic.
I have watched parents cripple their children in the name of love; by doing everything for them, expecting nothing of them, taking on their battles, making excuses for their errors, and making decisions for them. Those children grow up feeling fragile and incompetent. They have a hard time launching and becoming independent, productive citizens. And, I have watched children manipulate their parents with love; by refusing to take responsibility for themselves when they make a mistake, by blaming the parents for their own unhappiness, by demanding things that the parents cannot afford, and so on.
Likewise, I have seen couples control and manipulate one another using love as the tool. Relationships are hard—especially equal relationships. Finding the balance is a life-long project. Expectations are high when we first enter into a love-bond; sometimes, so high as to be unsustainable. We often spend those first few years together trying to shape one another to fit our expectations, which almost never works. Then, we have to figure out whether we actually love, or even like, who they really are.
The path to freedom from this cycle of control and manipulate by love is, as with most things, consciousness. Acknowledging that we do it, and how we do it, and/or that someone else is doing it to us is step one. An honest appraisal of our own motives and means of using love as a tool, is essential. We free our hearts and souls by changing the behavior—perhaps not overnight, but over time. True love is free. It doesn't come with strings.
In the Spirit,