“…no matter what”

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“I love you no matter what”

I’ve said this a thousand times – to my son, to my partner, to my closest girlfriends, and to my circle sisters. It’s my way of letting those people know that I see them. I see all of their beauty and all of their flaws, and I accept the whole big messy package. I’m pretty sure that I say it because it’s what I feel that my fragile heart needs to hear.

Something came to me the other day in a very big way – one of those “holy crap I can’t ignore this – this is one of those keys to the meaning of life” ways.

It’s not true. I love you no matter what isn’t true. The very premise of it is flawed.

I have never loved anything or anyone as much as I love my son. So I tested my new theory there.

I love him without limit.  My love for him is as high as the sky and as deep as the deepest ocean – AND – I gave him boundaries as a child. Now that we are two adults navigating our mother/son relationship there are still boundaries; some are mine and some are his. Our love is without limit. It won’t end – AND – it comes with boundaries. Our boundaries keep both of us happy and enjoying a healthy relationship.

I love you no matter what isn’t healthy.

Healthy love needs healthy boundaries – boundaries around what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not acceptable behavior.

I had boundary setting in relationships mixed up with Unconditional Love. I really thought that setting boundaries in relationships was like putting conditions on love. “I will love you if you do this” or “I will love you if you stop doing that”. Wrong. I completely f’d that one up.

I think healthy boundary setting means that I value myself enough to say what I’m willing to accept and what I’m NOT willing to accept. The other person gets to do the same thing. It doesn’t mean their love for me is conditional. It means that they value themselves enough to state what they are and aren’t willing to accept, and they value me enough to let me know where the edges are.

What a concept.

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