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another small victory for love

another small victory for love

by Andrea
June 19, 2013

Letting go of control is a big topic of conversation amongst so many of us who are striving to live a more balanced and conscious life. We live in a world with so much going on, so much change, and so much uncertainty, that letting go of control may not only become a requirement in order for us to stay sane and grow, but we might find that it’s one of the hardest demands confronting us. 

This is easy to understand. We have spent our whole lives establishing the controls that we live by. The structure of our daily lives, the agreements that we make with our family and friends, the commitments we make to our work or study. These types of control define and shape the world we live in, and I would not want to let go of any of them without good reason. On the other hand there are controls that are undesirable, that have to do with unhealthy dynamics in a relationship. The relationship with a parent, no matter what the age, can be one that is dominated by controls of the sort we don’t want in our lives. Overprotective, dominating, dramatic, etc. Some of these controls were probably necessary at one time, but they have been outgrown. If they are not let go of, they will likely reside in the undertow, and exert their dominance in ways that can be hurtful and harmful. Letting go of control is not easy and it takes a lot of heart. But when successful it is a victory for love.

I wonder if this issue of letting go of control is one of the reasons why so many people struggle with the idea of taking care of elderly loved ones, such as aging parents. I shared my own struggle with this in the essay, when the window opens, how I initially looked outside of myself for the answers, for someone out there to help—until the moment when I realized that person was me. While the love I feel for my mother is irrepressible right now, there was a time that love felt suffocated by certain controlling behaviors. I don’t see those behaviors at all anymore, which is why the love between us is now so free. Through difficult times, I watched my mother let go more and more, and in so becoming softer and more vulnerable. I couldn't help but to be affected by this. When you watch someone find the courage to let go, or to struggle to keep going through difficult transitions, your own heart softens and grows. It seems you have no say in the matter. 

another small victory for loveMy mother was not someone who believed in change. I remember how she used to say that people can’t change, and I always disagreed with her. But it makes sense that my mother and I viewed this differently. My mother’s generation was about stability, not change. She went through WWII, and post WWII, when there was an understandable drive for security and stability. She lived at a time where women’s roles were defined, and she didn't have the kind of opportunities that later generations of women had. I, on the other hand, was raised during the 60s, a time of tumultuous cultural change. I therefore believed in change, believed it was possible. It was in the air at that time. I believed I was the author of my life, and in many ways that was true. But one thing I've realized along the way is that when it comes to real change, deep change—the change that comes with letting go of control—I did not have the upper hand. My generation did not prepare me any more than my mother's generation prepared her. Letting go of control, I have learned, transcends culture. It takes two things: heart and courage. My mother has let go of control and changed more over these two or three years than I could have ever dreamed or wished for. As with many elderly people, this was forced by the inescapable march of time, and all the physical challenges that go along with aging. Without realizing it, my mother let go of control. And in so doing, she created another small victory for love. 

 

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