Sarah Settelen, speaking in ‘Unconditional Love’, about her daughter Ellie. Ellie suffered from multiple disabilities and died at the age of 4.
There’s no doubt that I loved Ellie; I loved her from the moment she was born. But the process she took me through to get to the point of being able to love her unconditionally was a process whereby she challenged my sense of self; she challenged my ego and all my illusions about the reality that I had built up around me. I realised I was defining myself in relationship to other people, and their responses to me, and because I was defining myself so much in terms of other people, I couldn’t love Ellie without conditions. I had so many needs, needs that because of her condition, she wasn’t able to fulfil. So what I had to learn from Ellie was that those needs had to be fulfilled within myself.
I don’t think, now, that any of us are able to love anyone else unconditionally until we can love ourselves unconditionally, and that is the process Ellie took me through. She taught me to stop relating to myself and defining myself through other people; to love myself without any expectations and completely unconditionally, and then I was able to love her unconditionally. Unconditional love is incredibly liberating.”