This morning I realized that I don’t love my grandmother.
It’s a strange thought to think, and an even stranger one to admit to myself, let alone reveal to anyone else, but it’s true. It’s also a concept that I can’t seem to wrap my rational mind around.
She’s my grandma. She’s family. She shares my blood.
Aren’t I supposed to love her?
Yesterday, my mom told me that my grandma insinuated, through a conversation that they’d had, that she doesn’t love me, by saying that she can’t be forced to feel something she doesn’t.
When my mom told me this, I was completely unaffected—so much so that it made me wonder if something was wrong with me. Shouldn’t I feel something?
I think part of the reason I was unperturbed is because on some level, I’ve always known. My mom told me once when I was young that my grandma said she never felt that she could get close to my sister and me because we lived in the United States and we didn’t speak the same language as her.
I grew up always feeling a certain distance between us.
I care for her. I have tender feelings for her. And, I do sometimes have loving feelings toward her, like this morning when she smiled at me as I was heading out for my morning run. But I do not love her, and despite my hesitation to even admit it to myself, I know that it’s okay.
When I first realized my feelings, I felt bad, guilty, and a bit of disbelief. I mean, what kind of person doesn’t love her own grandmother?
But then, I thought, what is it that makes me believe that I should feel differently from how I feel? What internal beliefs do I have in place that are making me feel ashamed? What is the root cause? And why should I feel bad when what I feel wasn’t even a conscious decision?
What expectations am I contradicting? What rules am I breaking? And, who created them?
It’s worth exploring the foundation upon which even our most taken for granted beliefs are built, because they may come from a place that is disconnected from the actuality of who we really are.
So much of the way we live our lives is based on societal expectations and unwritten rules of what it means to be a person living in our world. But do these humanly derived ideas automatically make them fact?
Is it possible that what we’ve been taught to revere doesn’t hold true for us? And if not, can we accept this realization?
Can we move into the truth of how we feel without judgement or condemnation?
Relationships are complex, and our feelings and emotions can be varied and multilayered. We can feel many things at once. Life isn’t always straightforward or simple.
We can feel a softness toward a person and immense compassion for the life experiences that likely shaped who they have become, while at the same time understanding that we are distanced by their coldness and criticism—feeling the existence of a rift we cannot quite transcend. We can feel loving feelings, while understanding that it’s not love.
So often, we emphasize and espouse the good parts of our lives and our relationships with the people who encompass them, while shielding tightly the dark and less appealing parts. We don’t want to admit to discord or acknowledge the aspects we feel contrast the notions of what we have been taught to idealize.
But, we don’t have to look at everything as good or bad, right or wrong, love or hatred.
Nothing is ever so simple or obvious.
We attach so much judgement to the thoughts we think and the emotions we feel, but it’s not necessary to live this way. We don’t have to wish for things to be different from what they are. We can simply allow them to be.
I think that to genuinely feel free, we have to allow ourselves to feel our truth, regardless of what shows up. We have to be able to admit to how we feel, especially that which makes us feel ashamed or uncomfortable, because there is a powerful truth resonating within that space.
And we can find a way to feel it without judging ourselves for it. We just have to be willing to release the beliefs and ideas that no longer serve us.
Sometimes life just is, and things just happen, and we simply feel how we feel.
We don’t have to have reasons or justifications.
This morning I realized that I do not love my grandmother, and it’s okay.
The revelation, while enlightening, doesn’t have to cause a momentous shift in our relationship.
We will still chat and share dinner. She will continue to like me, and I will still feel warm, tender waves of emotion move through me when I see her smile.
I will still feel grateful to have this time to be around her.
This discovery doesn’t have to be good or bad.
It can simply, softly just be.