No. You are not obligated to read beyond any word before this one, or the next. I won’t hold you to any of it, just because you landed here. But I will promise that beyond it, I will not feel obligated to being someone or something I’m not. And I hold you to be nothing more than you are ~ and that comes without obligation or expectation.
Read on if you please, and only if.
It runs deep. This aversion to obligation. It’s sometimes about not feeling compelled to doing something without knowing the reason I feel I should. More so, it’s a frustration about people doing something for me. “Don’t do it for my sake”, are the words often exploding from my brain. And if you fall prey to doing just that, the shards of the explosion are constant jabs of unworthy and empty words and deeds.
I can’t say when this all began; I just find life can be plagued with patronization. Okay,, maybe that is a bit harsh. But for me, it is such a disservice to do something out of obligation rather than mere love and devotion. It’s like being on autopilot rather than being aware of one’s own self and having true and sincere connections.
The year I graduated from high school was my first real stand against it: I gave an absolute “thanks, but no thanks” to the idea of a graduation party. A rally of support that was paraded about and attended by conscripts, didn’t appeal to me. I’d prefer to get personal, unscripted, spontaneous messages from the heartfelt believer of who I was and who I was to become. The messages didn’t come in droves, but those received were heart ingrained and more meaningful than a day of flitting, duty-ridden congratulations and gifts.
I believe, no, I know, that obligation is one reason I never saw myself having the big fairy tale wedding. When I became engaged, my older sister bought me a bridal book filled with bridesmaid dresses and gorgeous dresses I’d love to have worn. But the moment she put the catalogue into my hands, I knew I would not be following the path that all little girls supposedly dream of. It was not my dream. I could not fall into that obligation by obliging those who would show up due to family ties or otherwise.
My wedding was perfect. The man I wanted to be was there. The people who wanted to be there for us, with us, and for the right reasons, were there. Well, maybe there was a couple exceptions.
My parents were not in attendance. Nor were most of my siblings. Some might think that would be devastating or heartbreaking. But it was or is not the case. It is because the shackles of obligation was non-existent that allowed acceptance and peace to exist within me.
They, my parents, had to follow their conscience to not attend because I was not being married in the Catholic church. I honored that with no ill feelings. I still do. I preferred that they made their decision under no obligation than to have been falsely standing beside me.
Yes, I think we should all have some obligation to our fellow man to be peaceful, respectful, thoughtful and kind. However, when it comes to standing before someone with anything more than that, I want it to be an act of love, devotion and trueness to the heart. I want what someone gives to me to be on the level with which they feel it. If it is superficial love, then don’t honor me with fictitious sentiments of love and adoration.
My husband can easily attest that I, under no terms, feel an obligation to responding in kind to someone’s affection without anything but honesty. It took me several months to return his first, second and all the following “I love you’s”. He finally asked me why I had not reciprocated. I explained that I would when I felt I could return the same love he felt for me. He would then and always know I was saying it because it was true and not because I was reacting to his expression of love for me. I believe it had a strong impact because he recalls the very moment and place I said it.
I don’t find the whole world so shallow that I believe we only react and act in a manner that is beholden to ourselves. But I don’t find it honest, charming or satisfying to have someone carry out something because they think it is only in response to what they feel they have to do. I’d rather they do nothing, in many cases.
Are we obligated to work for money, pay our bills, and raise and feed the children we bring into the world? Well, yes, of course. But, don’t you agree that when it is taken beyond the call of duty, that something more is gained? But only if we look at it honestly. And maybe by briefly turning off the auto-pilot and guiding ourselves through what we think we are supposed to be doing, we’ll find something we weren’t aware of. Perhaps we even find a deeper part of ourselves in honoring the depths of our true spirit and our heart’s devotion to it. A piece more complex and satisfying than merely feeling duty bound.
Perhaps you may think that I’m suggesting that we should not promote random acts of kindness. But this is not the case. These are things that are not expected nor asked for, there is no prior knowledge of or experience with the persons involved. And when a stranger opens a door for you or let’s you in front of them at the check-out counter, isn’t it one of the most genuine, deep down senses of happiness and gratitude that you can have? And this is from a mere stranger. For me, a loved one doing something out of obligation gives me the exact opposite affect of what a random act from a stranger gives.
My son had recently said to me after I tried and liked a new recipe he made, (paraphrased somewhat) “You can’t believe what parent’s say, because they always think their kids are good at everything.” Well, I can totally understand why he thinks this, if he looks at it in terms of obligation. But, I could easily and honestly tell him in that moment, “Not this parent, I’ll tell you only what I honestly think.. If it was something that didn’t appeal to me, I’d have told you.”
The obligation to “show up” or “RSVP” into my world, provides or sheds no positive light into my life. Some might find this all a bit odd, but I find so much truth and peace in living this way. And for those who are in my life, perhaps it will give credence to all I’ve said to them or done for them. It was not given or said to them with any debt or duty on my part, And, I believe, if we look deeper into responding to someone with truth and clarity, we’ll find we cannot deny the validation and self worth it provides them as a human being.
“Do unto others, only as you would have them do to you.” Yes! But, please, don’t do unto me anything that is truly not within your heart. Bring to me only honesty and the candor from which it should speak.
I am much obliged to you for reading this far. . . but if you think I’m going to profess my undying love to you, we’ll have to get to at least get past introducing ourselves. Okay, maybe way beyond that…