Picking up with the notions of Neutrality and having zero opinions regarding our elders’ actions and attitudes, let me make sure to also express my gratitude to coach, Martha Beck of O magazine for her July 2011 column, called “I Don’t Care”.
When speaking of “detached attachment”, Beck makes the critical point that caring – with its shades of sadness, fear and insistence – is not love.
Yes, to care for someone can mean to adore them, feed them and tend their wounds. But care can also signify sorrow, as in “bowed down by cares” (e.g. anxiety).
Love without caring
Beck adds that when care appears, unconditional love often vanishes.
Her notion is that real healing and real love come from people who are both totally committed to helping and still able to emotionally detach. It’s not an easy balance to strike.
I can attest to that dilemma personally and on more than one occasion!
As my father’s situation commensurately declined, so too did loving detachment become an increasing struggle. For, I absolutely grew opinions about what should be done for him. And, I was very attached to them!
You can lead a horse to water…
Remember, we adult “children” can get pretty certain about knowing exactly what’s called for in our parents’ “care and feeding”. If they’d just listen to us…everything would work out fine!
Do you notice anything about this dynamic? It’s called role reversal!
Is it possible we sound precisely like our folks when they knew ‘best’ in the face of our teenage rebellions? How willing were we to listen to their wise counsel during that life chapter? Not so much!
…How can you let go of wanting to make him drink?
Those of you who are parents may find the best comparison in the process of guiding your children’s upbringing while simultaneously giving them freedom to follow their own pathway. You know ‘better’ but they may not ‘get it’ until they learn the hard way.
For my part, I found Grace taught me to offer ideas without attachment to outcomes. I simply “put it out there” and then let go when my father inevitably (as often as not) rejected them.
More on that subject later.
For now, consider how you can temper your resolve by not forcing your recommendations down parental throats.