Someone very important to me has disappointed me. Giving everything I can to here has been the albatross around me neck as many years ago I promised someone else I would. No matter what I have given, it has never been enough and many times I have been hurt by this pattern. Recently I have decided to no longer engage in the dynamic, to offer no support and to request her taking full accountability for her actions. This has left us with no relationship.
I have thought about this action extensively. For years I engaged because that is what I promised to do, because I was frightened about what it would look like if I didn't do all of the work, because I do not like to make investment and lose. Then I remembered that I have had many relationships like that in the past, relationships where I was serving another with little in return and continuing the pattern because I didn't want to look like I had been wrong.
Then, at some point in each of these relationships I realized, being wrong is not the worst part, as a matter of fact being able to admit when I am wrong is the very best part of a terrible relationship. That acknowledgment helps me know myself better, helps me learn more about what I nee and deserve and will put up with, helps me remember I am not very effective at relationships and I need to be cautious. Admitting that I am only human and make mistakes in believing in others reminds me that I want to be a better friend, wife, daughter, therapist for others who are trying as hard as they can to trust.
Letting go of the disappointment is really the trickiest part for me. Now that I have made progress in my life where I can tell the truth and I have allowed myself to feel emotions, watching someone else not care enough about me to make decisions that are kind and loving is painful. Truly feeling the sadness of having put everything into a relationship and receiving little in return is very harsh. However, feeling those experiences allows us to make the decisions to take care of ourselves. Acknowledging that it hurts us when someone doesn't take care of us allows us to make a choice to be separated from them.
I went to donate our time this weekend cleaning up an organization for the Spring season. I met a man there who right off the bat was rude, disrespectful, and critical. He also was intrusive, invasive, demanding, and unkind. Allowing myself to feel the emotions about this experience provided me permission to stay away from him for the rest of the activity. Every time he moved closer to me to talk or ask questions or pontificate, I moved away from him. When I was required to stand near him and he said something offensive, I advised him I was offended. All the while, the tool I used to access my genuine response was my disappointment in him and his behavior.
This career as a therapist combined with my upbringing led me to believe that I was not allowed to be disappointed by others behavior, I just had to manage it. I do not. If another person is harming me, I just like everyone else, am allowed to take care of myself. When those people take accountability for the harm and repair the damage I then am allowed to make the decision to re-engage. I owe no one anything. Relationships are simply a dance of what can each of us provide and what are we willing to provide. When another cannot and will not provide what we deserve, we have the opportunity to move away from them and take care of ourselves.