Love Without Walls

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At a party a couple of month ago, I met a young lady, a recent college graduate, who I shall call Gorgeous (not her real name). A bit shy but articulate and witty when the occasion called for, Gorgeous, who was 24, had a fantastic sense of humor and was every bit what her name stood for. She had the type of wholesome beauty that would capture your first look and imprison your interest to no end, whether you are a man or a woman. She was ambitious and appeared determined to seek her future, although she confessed to being a bit scared to face the real world before of her.

As the evening wore off, I discovered that behind her captivating Mona Lisa smile was a sadness that was consuming her. During her conversation with her girl friends at our table, she quietly and reluctantly vented her frustration and disenchantment with her 25-year-old boyfriend David (not his real name), her steady for the past year. After her well-meaning friends, who were wanting to comfort her, egged her on, she finally opened up. At first, she did not want to talk about it at all, but it was obvious that the weight on her fragile being was so heavy she felt she had to unload some of it.

Gorgeous described David as "a loving man in his own way and style". But what she was concerned about was his severe possessiveness and insecurity. "I could not even go anywhere without getting his permission first.he calls me even late at night, checking on me, just to make sure I was at home.he makes me feel like a pet on a leash.he is jealous even of his own friends.I feel he is choking me and stifling my growth.I can't breathe.I need space," she poured out.

This particular situation is a very common scenario, more than what we realize or want it to be, among the young and old alike, single or married, rich or poor, black or white. And this brings us to what a healthy relationship should be.

Like in any other human liaison, friendship or love between two individuals requires certain basic and essential natural ingredients in order to succeed and bloom. The human nature in every person dictates the presence of such elements in the recipe, if the bond is to endure, survive and be healthy, happy and lasting.

Foremost criterion for a meaningful and rewarding relationship is genuine love. For love to be genuine, it must be caring, unselfish, honest, unpretentious, considerate and compassionate. It is the kind of love that says "your well-being and happiness above, and before, my own," or "sacrificing myself for you gives me joy in my heart." It is that many-splendored feeling that comes with mutual respect, trust, and dignity, one that confers inner peace, joy and contentment on both friends or lovers, and one that inspires confidence and determination for the loved one to achieve his or her full potential in life.

An emotion that is insanely insecure and jealous, one that deprives the partner of freedom and space, one that steals away self-confidence and dignity, one that is demeaning, is not genuine love. This is selfishness, the unhealthy sentiment that will surely doom any relationship to failure. Guaranteed.

Besides the adoration between two lovers, the love of parents for their children is a poignant example of what genuine love is. The parents would instinctively and knowingly give up their personal comfort, their valuable time, their last penny, and even their lives, if needed, for the benefit and happiness of their young. Parents would sacrifice and go out of their way to ensure the health, well-being and future of their children. They honor and respect them and give them roots to firmly plant their feet on the ground, and wings for them to soar and reach their star. It is a kind of love that is self-effacing and not expecting anything in return. One of the qualities of true love is that it is as strong as steel and as soft as silk, as hard and heavy as stone and yet as tender and light as a feather. It is love without walls, without bars, without locks, and one that provides a lot of space and a lot of keys instead.

In medicine, we encounter countless patients with depression, mostly women, brought on by a restrictive and constrictive relationship which paralyzes them not only physically and socially, but mentally as well. As a result, the victims lose their self-esteem, self-respect and confidence about their future. Some become total failure in life because they allow themselves to be permanent slaves of the abusive rapport.

What we counsel these individuals to do is to re-evaluate the relationship in a fair and intelligent manner, and decide on the priorities in their life. Is the relationship a serious one? Are they willing to accept the current situation, with all the trials and tribulations, pain and suffering, or have they had enough? Is there any realistic hope of the errant partner changing for the better in earnest?

More than the psychiatrist or marriage counselor, the persons involved, who know the ramifications and complications of such a relationship, are in a better position to answer these questions. The medical professional could only help dissipate the fog that blurs the vision and guide the individuals to the right path in the decision making process. The ultimate solution lies in the hand of the individual victims of this tragic dilemma.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.