Can you imagine, and perhaps you really can, what it is like to experience that first, heart-exploding realization that someone actually loves you completely? Loves you without boundaries or restraint, regardless of your brokenness, emotional issues, and the truckloads of psychological stuff you carry with you? It is addictive to say the least.
Your mind returns again and again to thoughts of that person who loves you so unconditionally. Why? Because it feels marvelous. The endorphin rush you feel each time you realize that someone can actually love YOU (and all your quirkiness, your faults, and your issues that seem to make you relationally dysfunctional) is likened to that of a chemical rush to your brain.
Unconditional love is just that, no conditions attached. You are loved just because you are YOU. Not what you do. Not because of how good you are or how you look or sound or smell. Just because you are that amazing and unique package of YOU. Someone finds delight in the person of you. That is heady stuff…and you want more.
I am blessed to have experienced this. For the first time in my life, no matter how weird I got, or dysfunctional, or disappointing I was, I was loved completely. This person didn’t see a need to change or reform me, to control my loud, hyper personality, my neediness, or insecurity. In fact, just the opposite happened. My new love actually celebrated and enjoyed the real me, told me wonderful things about myself I had not realized. And so, I became……addicted.
We have heard the phrases “addicted to love” and “love addiction”, and come to find out there is scientific truth to them. According to results found in a study done in 2000,
” The f(functional)MRI study also discovered that the part of brain associated with addiction was activated when participants were viewing pictures of the people they were in love with. This area is comprised of a very high concentration of dopamine receptors, a neurotransmitter which, among other things, is related to addiction. And certainly it is true that love and addiction bear some important similarities.”
See more here.
(The article goes on to speak about obsessive compulsion and acting a bit batty, but I’m trying to ignore those.)
This kind of love and acceptance brings a dopamine rush and can be full-out addicting! Love is indeed a wonderful “feel good” drug!
I’ve always been afraid to be completely real, somehow feeling that I wouldn’t be liked for who I really am. I’m pretty sure I became a people-pleaser while still in the womb, but that is a story for later. So when I was fully and completely accepted, with joy no less, it was a wonderful and beautiful balm to my wounded spirit. A balm that began to heal and nourish and “give my heart wings” enough to venture out of my self-imposed survival mode (which felt very much like a box). The fear of what others would think about me, how they would regard my true personality, began to fall away in the face of such acceptance and enjoyment of me.
We are told that God has this kind of love for us but it’s hard to conceive if we’ve never experienced it. However, to receive unconditional love from a person, with skin on, someone we see, talk with and touch, gives us a much clearer picture of His love for us.
(Sidenote: Aside from romantic love, your unconditional love for people in your life can transform them. You can love unconditionally, celebrate uniqueness, and love the person for who they are, and no other reason. You can set someone’s heart free and give them the gift of believing in themselves.)
I hope that if you haven’t yet, you will experience this kind of unconditional love. We all deserve it. I didn’t think I did. I settled for the other kind. It hurt. It stifled. It closed me up. But this kind of love? This love set me free.
Do yourself and others a favor. Practice unconditional love. Your own life will be richer for it.