Single Parent Faith

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saying Good Bye to an Unhealthy Relationship



Infinite vastness
Infinite possibilities
        Awaiting us as we step
               Forward in faith
                        Reaching for God’s hand
                                    To steady our fears
                                                           —Ella Venezia

Copyright © 2011 by Ella Venezia, All Rights Reserved
(Image from lh4.googleusercontent.com)


Though we know better and cerebrally formulate how we need to lean on faith and trust, when the storms and trials of life arrive, we tend to duck into a cave, even if only for a short while. We take refuge in things that give us comfort, it could be comfort food, it could be sleep, it could be any number of things.


Sometimes we escape into other people. I believe people often look to others to fill a void. This happens quite frequently when we end a relationship, and perhaps at times, even before the end of a relationship. Sometimes well meaning friends may even say “Start dating to take your mind off of him.”

Yet the very thing we need is to process things out, work through them, however painful and difficult they may be, before we can be ready to begin anew.

I recall sometime after my divorce I met a man whom I dated for 2 years. I truly loved him, which made it all the more difficult to end the relationship. So many of us are in relationships which we know are going nowhere, and yet we continue. I guess we rationalize and postpone making a decision, though the truth keeps chipping away at us.

The person has good qualities, otherwise we wouldn’t be with him in the first place. Yet, there’s enough of a concern, something holding us back from fully committing.

Truth #1: If it’s a yo-yo relationship, and you find yourself alone more than not, it’s not a healthy relationship.
In my case, we had different ways of dealing with uncomfortable subjects. He ran and hid, leaving me alone and in a lurch. I was in need of an adult partner, but instead found myself alone as if I had no relationship. This was a yo-yo relationship. He’d come back if he felt safe to do so, and go when he didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable moments in life.

Many times we broke up, but then got back together. It was so unhealthy of both of us. When we are in the on again-off again relationship drama, our mouth may say “that’s enough! It’s over!” but after a while, we begin to miss the person and we fall back into the yo-yo trap.

Truth #2: Just because we love someone, doesn’t mean they are good for us.
Sometimes we confuse “missing a person” with “this person must be the right one for me.” Dysfunction allows us to be authentically in love with someone, even when we should not be with him. We can love someone who is not good for us.

Truth #3: Just because there’s a lot of chemistry, doesn’t mean they are good for us.
There was a tremendous amount of passion and chemistry between us. This kept us going back to each other. But in the long run, it’s not enough to sustain and grow a relationship. You need to be able to trust the person will be there for you.

Truth #4: We can become addicted to playing the victim role. 
There came a time when I became sick and tired of listening to myself talk about him and the ways he had “done me wrong.”  I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. Tired of being the victim. Tired of being with someone I couldn’t count on, depend on. I had many “straw that broke the camel’s back” moments. And yet, I hung on.

Truth #5: What he “does” is more important than what he “says”
In an unhealthy relationship, we can get trapped by the words “I love you.” If he says the words, then surely we are meant to be together, we may think. That only works in fairy tales. It’s what his actions tell you, that speaks more truthfully. I believe some people believe they truly love you. And in their world, in their way, they do (assuming he’s not a scoundrel lying to you- there’s those to watch out for). But at the end of the day, you can’t have a future with words, only actions. If the actions don’t match the words, you must believe the actions.

Note: If a man has a manipulator personality, he will use many “right” words as part of the control he will attempt to exert over you.

Truth #6: Pain is an invitation to grow
Throughout this experience I tried to look at myself to see what I needed to do differently, how I needed to grow. So many times in my past, I ended a relationship in anger, and moved on to the next relationship—Not taking time out to invest in me. This time, I wanted to do things differently.

I was for the first time in my life, looking in humility, inside myself to check if “my” perspective and “my” problems, not his, were responsible for the relationship’s current state.

Truth #7: The Balanced approach to self-discovery
I did uncover many of my issues in the process. I did uncover things I could do better. In my zeal to grow spiritually through this process, and accept accountability, I lost the balanced perspective. I took on “all” the accountability for this relationship’s issues. 

We must be cautious not to take on all the blame, otherwise we become a doormat in the process. If the other person is not also embarking on gaining understanding, they will gladly heap all their trash, onto us.

Truth #8: Waiting for signs will only delay us
I prayed and prayed for him to open his heart to change. I prayed that God show me if this guy was the right one for me. I was ready to go through harder work still, if God just clearly showed me “He’s the one I have for you.” 

I didn’t want to discard him, if I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t want to keep repeating the same drama with the next guy, since I know that whatever we don’t work through, we are bound to repeat again.  

I asked the Lord to make the answer very clear to me, but I never received that undeniable and conspicuous sign— you know, that bolt of lightning from the heavens. Instead, I had to walk through the long and painful process of uncertainty.

Our God is like that. It’s all about free will. If a person doesn’t want to accept accountability, doesn’t want to grow, then God isn’t going to twist his arm. Though I was in pain and wanted God to take away the pain, it didn’t happen. As a parent now I realize, that the way our children learn is by cleaning up their own mess. Pain works toward our ultimate good, if we choose to learn from it. If we choose to turn it into a catalyst for change.

The paradoxes I learned:
1. For God to take away my pain, he would have taken away an opportunity for me to grow.
2. For God to have blatantly shown me that this guy was not right for me, it would have been an act of no confidence in me— in my “ability to learn” how to differentiate and learn how to identify an unhealthy relationship. Thus, robbing me from valuable insight and experience to spot unhealthy relationship behaviors in the future.


Truth #9: My role— I gave Permission to be treated this way
I came to the realization that he wasn’t respecting me. Why should he? By  accepting him back multiple times (without any real change on his part), I demonstrated that I did not feel I deserved better. It is really true that we teach others how to treat us. And it starts at the beginning of a relationship. What we accept and allow, educates them on the threshold we will endure. They push the envelope and when we bend like a palm in the wind, they learn that we will give way on our own ideals and beliefs. This indicates we have no boundaries. There’s nothing more destructive to a relationship than that. But most importantly, if we cannot value ourselves and honor ourselves, we cannot expect others to treat us respectfully. People cue off of us. How we treat ourselves. They will mirror what we reflect of ourselves.

Truth #10: A healthier me is the key to a healthy relationship
When I decided “I” had to change and stop allowing the repeated disrespect and abandonment, I became free of the drama that I was fully participating in. When we decide to change and begin respecting ourselves, we regain our strength and empower ourselves. We are ready to say “no” to someone else and “yes” to ourselves—Yes to “I deserve to be valued, respected and free from relationship dysfunction.”

I realized that something as fundamental as loving and respecting myself, needed my immediate attention. When you have children, it’s even more necessary because they are watching us and modeling our behaviors—Both the healthy and the dysfunctional. I decided I didn’t want my daughter to grow up and struggle with this as I was. How can I teach her self respect and self love, if I didn’t live it? If I am to have any credibility when I talk about this with her, I needed to change. Though she was only 7 yrs old at the time, it wasn’t too soon. Children at a young age are learning our relationship habits. 

I decided to take on this relationship’s end, as a spiritual journey. I purchased myself a laptop and began journaling my experience. I would examine how I was feeling and I became my cheering squad through my writing. I also was compassionate with myself on the days I was having a tough time.

There are the moments of weakness that are sure to come. We want to pick up the phone and talk to the ex. Maybe get tempted to start another relationship, while we have not finished our work. Maneuvering through these moments are also part of the process. But once you begin to commit to yourself, you don’t want to let yourself down. And if you have a temporary setback, you quickly want out of it. It no longer feels good. Over time, your norm changes and no longer is the shadow of the unfulfilled companionship acceptable. You gain a hunger for something deeper and more meaningful. You’ve come in touch with loving yourself, and choosing yourself over accepting to live in dysfunction.

Many people cling to the “known” even if it is dysfunctional. Afraid to venture to the “unknown.” I am still in my journey into the unknown. I do not know what lays ahead. Yet, I have to trust in God, that He has goodness in store for me. He has my back. I now understand that I have to put my faith in the Almighty, rather than in a mortal relationship. I have to base my foundation of who I am, as defined by God, rather than trying to see my reflection in a mortal man’s heart.
Ella Venezia

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah, 29:11

6 comments:

  1. The important thing is to learn from our experiences, not only to learn the lesson but also to learn to trust God. And as you wrote, you have gained that knowledge. And that, no one can take from you.

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  2. Indeed, thank you for your words of support and encouragement!

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  3. OMGosh I can SOOOOOO relate to this post on a lot of levels (altho', admittedly, NOT from a recent breakup). Everything you said rings SO true, but I had to share in particular on 3 things.

    #7 - I was SOOOO the doormat in my marriage (it was bad!)....and that goes SO very much with #9...I allowed myself to become a doormat. NEVER again!

    #8 - I used to pray all the time for signs too. But the Holy Spirit reminded me of something He shared several years ago when I faced one of the biggest decisions of my life. I fasted for 3 days & still got no answer. I BEGGED God to show me the way & then, out of nowhere, I heard that gentle whisper in my spirit, "if you don't have a peace about it, it's not from me!" & I was reminded of John 14:27 "My peace I leave with you". So now, if I feel no peace about something, I know it's not where God's leading me.

    #10 - Jer. 29:11 - I saw God in my spirit's heart/mind shaking His hands in frustration with me, saying, "would you PLEASE stop interfering with the plans I have for you"....emphasis on the "I", not "me" (Merana's).

    Can't wait to continue following & thank you for following as well. I do indeed have funny stories to share on hopefulawaiting. I invite you to follow my other blog at "quietministries.blogspot.com" as well. I really enjoy & appreciate your insight. I SO look forward to reading further on here....ya know....after dinner & homework!

    Blessings ~ Merana

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  4. Merana- Thank you for your comment in which you shared so generously your own experience. Like you, this event was not recent ( I should have mentioned that, but was wordy enough...LOL). I will write about past experiences and current because I think it benefits us to share insight gained. I was thrilled to hear you could relate to my experience (not happy for any pain you experienced) because I have felt very strong urgings through these years (for a long, long time) to take all this and share it so others don't feel they are the only ones feeling this when they walk through it. I know there were many times I'd go into a bookstore looking for something that could directly speak to what I was going through and never quite finding things that hit the mark. So I began chronicling these experiences. So I have alot to draw from now ( ironically that's the good
    that comes from this too).
    Thanks for following and I'll visit your other blog. Me too, after work, HW, dinner, the emergency of the day, yadah-yadah....the life of a single parent. Blessings to you and your kids!- Ella

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  5. You write very well. Number 9 hit home for me the most. It took me so long to realize that I was allowing the abuse because I kept taking him back and I stayed in the relationship. When I finally started accepting at least some of the responsibility and stopped playing the role of the victim, I found inside myself the strength an courage to get out.

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  6. Angela- Like you, it wasn't until I accepted responsibility that I began the process of feeling strong enough to break the pattern. I'm glad that what I wrote resonated with you. I appreciate your thoughts shared.

    Onward and upward now..... :) You are on your way to healing :) You deserve that for yourself and child(ren). What better gift than to be a "whole" and happy woman, as a model for our children :)

    -Ella

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