Cherishing Loved Ones

“Cherish your human connections- Your relationships with friends and family.”
– Barbara Bush and Joseph Brodsky

I am a mother of one child. I have cherished my daughter from the day she was born. My mother, I cherish, too. I am one of the acorns of my family tree. I have four other siblings. I have always loved my mom, and at times actions and things that were said to me from the past have stood between us. How did I learn to cherish these loved ones? It has been a process of looking inward.

For the word “Cherish”, I found these synonyms:
“adore, hold dear, love, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire; think the world of, set great store by, hold in high esteem; care for, tend to, look after, protect, preserve, keep safe”

These are all verbs that require me to try to act on behalf of someone I love. To me it requires me to try to love unconditionally, without judgment. I am trying to give those I love free rein without imposing my will, wishes, or any manipulation to get the outcome I want; I am working to accept them for who they are.

These “requirements” can be challenging to live in action. Very recently my own will was tested when I spoke to my elderly mother on a visit. The child in me did not accept and felt hurt by an exchange I had with her. Although she is 98, I wanted her to respond differently than how she did. Over the last week, I had to go inward because the adult in me had not allowed myself to feel what I felt about my mother’s response. I had shut down my own feelings. After several days of processing, I became able to accept what she had said because I could NOT expect her to say words that I wanted to hear, but that she was unable to say.

With my daughter I feel a deep connection and love her dearly. With my mother I am aware of a difference in my connection with her, and I love her. It has taken me years to understand that my mother is and was truly doing the best she can and could when I was a child, and she grew up in a very different era than I did. My mom made different choices in life than I have.

My expectations of how both of them “should” be, don’t matter. Those are mine. I have no control over others. This is where I get to learn that we are separate and have our separate lives and live and walk on separate paths. They are both a wonderful part of my life. However, they are only two of the reasons I am happy to be alive. They are not my sole reason for living. I have my own purpose, my own path, my own reason to be alive.

Getting to this point of more ease, peace, and acceptance, has taken a lot of reflection and actual work, and it is ongoing. In the past, I NEEDED to be and was desperate to be a HELPER and FIXER. I thought that was my role in life. I was always watching out for others, and neglecting my OWN needs because I was unaware of what they were.

This video is a short version of how to start being compassionate to yourself, and thus, become able to give that to others. Kristin Neff PhD has written and done extensive work and study about self-compassion. Here is a taste of what she is suggesting as a way to look inward. She was one of my teachers who helped me learn who I am, so that I could begin to cherish myself, as well as others. Becoming able to have self-compassion for myself and others, particularly those I love, has resulted in me becoming the “mostly” happy person, I always wanted to be. Most of the time now, I know what I am feeling, so I can sit with both my suffering and joy, and not get stuck long term in the moments of suffering in my life. Being more present for my own life has been awesome and full of wonderful possibilities.

I am learning to cherish myself and own life with deep gratitude, and thus, I am able to cherish those I love in deep and wondrous ways.