Unconditional love is looking more like a burden that eternally ties you to others, a love that cannot set you free because it is a heavy weight. You stride when they stride, but if they fall you cannot walk away. So you fall, too. Unconditional love is the hacking old man you keep tending to with washcloths and steady spoonfuls of soup. You can’t kill him, but he won’t die. He is immortal, so he keeps existing instead. He sticks around but he is too decrepit to lift anything, not even his own head; he’s too senile to tell you stories like he used to. He just exists.
Unconditional love is: “I will love you no matter what. If you murder my family I will still love you. If you rob a bank I will shake my head but I will still love you. If you are mean to me when you have a bad day I will not be happy, but I will still love you. If you stab me in the back, even if I don’t understand why, I will still love you. If you choose the path of destruction and return unrecognizable, I will still love you.”
Unconditional love is forgiveness, forever. It is the perpetual gamble, even when you run out of all you had to bring to the table. Eventually you’re playing with nothing at all. You want so much to stop, but this is their game so you cannot leave.
With unconditional love there is the certainty of soaring together and crumbling together.
Conditional love is: “I love you, but if you do that I cannot love you any longer. If you break these promises, I won’t love you. If you turn into someone I do not know, I won’t love you. If you smash me to pieces too may times, I won’t love you. If you lie to me, if you dishonor me, if you betray your friends, if you go too far, I won’t love you. If you do not love me, I won’t love you. If you give up, I won’t love you. If you refuse to change, I won’t love you.”
Conditional love has standards and boundaries. Conditional love doesn’t mean ephemeral, or fickle. It means there is a threshold at which, once reached, you will choose your own heart before someone else’s.