If you have a long history with someone, and you have healing to do around your relationship, or events of the past, understand you can never do one hundred percent of the work. I’m talking about important long-term relationships in your life, with family members, or spouses, or your best friend for years and years. Life is not easy. It’s amazing and interesting. It’s filled with incredible beauty, the potential for love so intense you feel your heart might burst, and pain that can bring you to your knees. It’s always changing, so it’s certainly an adventure, but there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty, and not everyone is able to handle that easily. Sometimes people cling to their pain or their anger because that feels safer than letting go, and the reality is, the people in the most pain are also the people who create the most pain. It’s not usually intentional. What we have within us is what we spread around us.
If you’ve been disappointed, neglected, abused or abandoned, those are all experiences which might have hardened you, or broken your trust in people. I understand that, but I think it’s important to believe in the goodness of people, and to understand when you’ve been betrayed or abandoned by someone, it’s not a reflection of you, or your worthiness or ability to receive love, it’s a reflection of where the other party is on his or her own path. That doesn’t mean it’s okay if someone abuses you or mistreats you, it just makes it easier not to take those things personally. I think the key is to be discerning, and to understand that it takes a long time to know a person. We all want love and connection, but your heart is precious and it’s important not to be reckless with it. There’s a big difference between living in fear, which is not really living, and taking your time.
The thing is, human beings are complicated. We all have our histories, our pain, our various upbringings, ways we were nurtured, loved, supported, or not so much, so when you bring any two people together, it’s exponentially more complex. And when you increase that number to three or four or five (as in, a family), you can bet the chances for different dynamics to arise just multiplies. I get emails from so many people in pain over their strained or nonexistent relationships with their mothers or fathers, sons or daughters, sisters or brothers, friends from childhood. Things happen in life. Sometimes a person is moving through pain and they lash out, or there’s a family system in place and roles are being played and maybe it’s not a healthy situation, and then one day, one of the players doesn’t like his or her role anymore, and everyone panics as the system collapses. Maybe the whole family is held hostage by one member’s addiction, depression, or mental illness. There’s no shortage of different scenarios. People fight over money (it isn’t usually really the money they’re fighting about), or something someone said at a wedding when they were drunk and full of salmon.
If you have healing to do with someone, understand you need some kind of bridge. It takes two to tango, and it takes two to mend a bridge that’s collapsed. I don’t think a person has to meet you halfway; it’s ideal, but not everyone will be up to that. A person has to step onto the bridge. If you feel motivated to walk the rest of the way, that’s enough, but if a person won’t even take that first step, you’ll be dealing with a chasm and it will be up to you how you want to manage that. Sometimes we can’t have a person in our lives, and sometimes we have to accept that a relationship will never be quite what we want it to be. Not everyone is capable of fearless and honest communication and acceptance. Not everyone can open his or her mind to a different point of view. You can’t force someone to be somewhere they aren’t.
Sometimes we have to choose between two painful options–not having someone in our lives, or having them in our lives in a way that falls incredibly short of what we know is possible. That’s a choice only you can make. You can keep your hands open. You can offer the chance for healing, but you can’t make someone take you up on it, and I know that can hurt. I think closing yourself down and shutting yourself off hurts more, though.
Sending you love, and wishing you peace,