We all look to those who have come before us to determine where certain character traits we possess have come from. Much of who we are is of course due to environment, life circumstances and other external factors and then there are genetic characteristics that may or may not play heavily on our personalities. Regardless, everyone looks to those all important genetic connections. Think about how often you hear things like “You have a talent for painting just like aunt so and so” “You have your grandfather’s stubborn streak” and so on. I used to be compared to my grandmother all the time.
“She loved flowers and gardening and had a fire in her spirit just like you”.
I remember wondering as a child how that was possible that I had inherited anything at all from a woman whom I never met and who has no genetic ties to me what so ever. I think maybe it’s just another case of society trying to invent natural connections to mask an unnatural circumstance. It matters not that these connections are a scientific impossibility we are expected to embrace them and play the game. Is it any wonder so many of us end up having a total identity crisis and then find ourselves obsessed with searching in adulthood? I truly believe it is connection to and understanding of who we are in it’s entirety that we search for. I think people tend to make our desire to search a bit more shallow than it really is.
At the end of the day maybe where many of our character traits come from really doesn’t matter too much. We are who we are and much of who we are probably IS shaped by life experience but who can blame us for wondering? A strong sense of Self takes work. You aren’t born with it. I just think the road to self discovery is probably much easier if you are blessed with two very important factors: good teachers and R.O.O.T.S..
There is one characteristic that baffles me. Something that due to my personal experience I find an unlikely trait to be either genetic or environmental and that is unconditional love. I have never been taught and have rarely been shown or received unconditional love. On the other hand I love deeply, passionately and with an unmeasured amount of compassion. It seems unreasonable to assume this is something I learned along the way because with the exception of a scant few I have experienced nothing but conditional love. My mom loves me but there are rules. I must play the narcissist game to receive her love. My natural mother could only love me if I remained a secret so I have to love her from afar. I have friends for which I can only be loved from afar as well because I make others in their lives “uncomfortable” for whatever reason. Maybe it’s my beliefs, maybe it’s something more shallow but whatever the reason virtual strangers have deemed me unworthy even though they don’t know the first thing about me. Think about how many adoptees face anger and resentment by their adoptive parents when they decide to search. Nothing screams conditional love more than that. So many conditions are placed on adoptees but I think conditional love is the most damaging.
It appears to be a pattern. Someone has a long list of conditions to their love and they most certainly pass that lesson on to their children….who will most likely learn to love the same way. So if conditional love is taught it would make sense that the opposite…… unconditional love… is taught as well. EXCEPT, where in the world did I learn it?! No, that can’t be it. There has to be something deeper that makes a person have the strength, the courage to love unconditionally. A strong sense of Self MUST play into it somewhere. This is who I am. I love myself as I am so I can certainly love you as you are without exception. You don’t have to DO anything or SAY anything or BE anything specific for me to love you.
I guess the origins of unconditional love may just remain a mystery and mystery is certainly something adoptees learn to live with every single day. Regardless of how we come about it though here’s the truth of the matter; we may have no choice about being loved conditionally but offering conditional love is NOT something we have to live with.
The way I look at it is it’s the one thing that can’t be taken from me. Regardless of how this aspect of my personality came about, whether it be self taught, genetic, environmental…it doesn’t really matter. It is the ONE part of who I am that can’t be explained away under false pretense. It cannot be hidden in the closet of shame or shrouded in secrecy. It cannot be forced into oblivion like all of those unknowns we face. Oh hell no.
If I want to love you I WILL and it is impossible for you to place conditions on THAT!