“There comes a time in a every person’s life when…” These words can spark any number of thoughts and conversations. And I’ve been having these conversations a lot lately. And I’m realizing that the older I get those “times” are happening more frequently.
There’s something about the wisdom that tends to come with age. And I don’t think it has anything to do with getting older in and of itself. I believe that it’s just that when we bump our head enough times, we start to realize… “Well, damn! Maybe I need to stay the hell away from that corner.” And the more times we go around a slightly different corner, but run into the same or similar snags we start to realize how certain “corners” tend to be connected. And we learn how to better navigate our desired path.
I’ve had some recent experiences that have led me to some realizations. Realizations that might seem “late” to some, but yet another realization that I’ve had is that we are all on our own time. What may seem late to me may be long before someone else got the same understanding for themselves. And yet another realization that I’ve had is that comparing one journey to someone else’s is completely futile, usually counterproductive and retards our own growth.
One realization is that as cruel as it sounds, there are certain people who are absolutely unworthy of you. Have you ever spent time with someone and when you left them, you felt like you actually lost life? That’s a BIG clue! If spending time with them leaves you feeling like you just wasted actual LIFE on them, you might want to reconsider that association.
I’m not talking about the occasional trying time that a loved one goes through that leaves you unsure of yourself or your effectiveness in the situation (because anyone who’s ever loved long and deep enough will go through that at least once…either as a single incident or a season). I’m talking about the person who always is a drain, sap, or mooch of some sort. In this situation, rarely are you the focus or is your emotional temperature even taken. If what’s going on with you doesn’t directly affect or impact them in that moment, they couldn’t care less. Every time they come around, they always tend to assume the beneficiary role while they themselves offer very little, if any, support.
These relationships tend to be among our longest lasting relationships…because they usually develop long before we grow into ourselves and come to realize the true toxicity of the nature of the relationship. And we finally wake up to a relationship that is there because there is a burdensome sense of obligation to the length of its history. And we don’t want to appear that we’ve forgotten “where we come from”, or don’t want them to feel “left behind”. But uh…this ain’t public school, and somebody’s ass NEEDS to be left behind! What the hell WERE they doing while you were going through whatever your history involves? Really think about it. Could you have made it through that season without them being there? Was what they offered in that season really worth what TODAY looks and feels like?
Hear me. I’m not talking about a quid pro quo type of relationship necessarily, because in any relationship there are seasons of giving and receiving. But just as a fowl sheds its shell, a snake sheds its skin, a butterfly sheds its chrysalis, and a baby sheds its womb…so must we learn to shed that which keeps us from growing into the fullness of who we are meant to be. And of course this is harder than it sounds, but ooooohhh is it worth it!
I’m still having some separation anxiety in some cases, because the relationships are familiar and there IS history. But the more I realize that the relationships served who I WAS and not who I AM and am becoming, the more I’m able to release the guilt of letting go and allow things to develop (or fall away) as they should. And for someone like me (loyal to a fault, and prone to hold on beyond reason), this is a big deal.
It’s making me intentional about the relationships that I do feed. I want to water those relationships that I value in my current awareness. I want them to know how much I appreciate them. I reach out (even if only seasonally) just to let them know I’m glad they’re a part of my life and where I am, and honored that they allow me to be a part of theirs. My life is enriched because they’re in it. And it’s not a constant barrage of love notes (although I can tend to be randomly sappy), nor do I necessarily share time in regular intervals. But when that time does come, I enjoy them for not only what they do for me and/or my spirit but simply for who they are and choose to be.
The “other” relationships? Well, they tend to show themselves. And there’s usually not much we have to do to let them go, besides release our own guilt about not “feeding the cat”…and it will go away on its own. But let me be perfectly clear… I am not suggesting “testing” relationships, becoming lazy, or ditching out in a season that is designed to teach us how to endure stormy weather and/or learn how to better relate in times of frustration or disappointment. This is not intended to be the coward’s out. But not so deep inside (because it’s not rocket science, and not that dramatic) you know which relationships need to be released.
And in some cases, maybe it’s not a person. Perhaps it’s a habit, or way of coping that we’ve outgrown. Maybe it’s a way of thinking or doing things. Maybe it’s a tradition or belief system. Could be anything that we feel obligated to because it’s been a part of who we are for as long as we can remember, but somehow we feel like a liar or poser any time we participate in it. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know I’m not alone in this.
So in this season of resolutions and in the spirit of new beginnings, I’m being honest about my relationships…all of them. I encourage you to do the same. And in some cases, if we were to be honest with ourselves, maybe that means that people are preparing to let US go. In those cases, we have to let them make the choice that’s right for them while still honoring their chosen path…even if that path doesn’t include us. Again, much easier said than done, but true nonetheless. This is not about ego, feeling “liked” or accepted, or hanging our emotional hat on who chooses to share time and life with us…it’s about being whole, being genuine, and being true.
I’ve heard it said that love sometimes means loving enough to let go. Love yourself enough to let go…in every sense.