Yep, that’s me. Relationally Challenged.
I am one of those people who puts everything in to a relationship that matters to me. I will make sure we see each other every once in a while. I will send you hand written notes. I will remember to celebrate your birthday. I will send your kids birthday gifts. I will text or call you just to check in. When you ask to borrow something I will always say yes and if it’s something that you need more than I do I will give it to you. I will promote the things that matter to you in life like your new business. I will praise you to other people. I will accept you in your down times. Until….it becomes drama. I don’t handle drama very well and that’s where my challenge comes in and I begin to lose relationships that I have invested sooooo much in. And it hurts.
This year has not been without loss. Becoming an atheist in your christian community does not do much for maintaining healthy relationships but these two relationships that I have lost or am in the process of losing have always been dramatic and yet I have kept investing and investing until it’s at the point of unhealthy. So today I am evaluating why I do that? Why don’t I just allow people to wallow in their drama and destroy the relationship? Why do I fight it? Why do I feel the need to justify my character when I know who I am?
The first relationship was and has always been complicated. A grandmother figure to one of my adopted children had wanted to continue a relationship with him. We welcomed her in to our family and she visited once a week playing a grandma role to all of our boys. I treated her better than her own children treated her. While they sucked her dry, financially and emotionally, I tried to refuel her. I’d buy her flowers when she watched the kids. The boys and I would share with her our fun times. I would take her out for mother’s day. I would buy her gifts on her birthday and send her notes when I knew she was struggling. I let her know how much I appreciated all she did. I listened time and time again when she talked about all the people in her life and how much they abuse her (the drama that she allowed). And then the time came when I needed to take a stand for someone that she repeatedly abused with her actions and words. I was extremely kind with my words when I approached the subject (I have had many people read my email and they all agree it was very loving) and then what do I get in return for all those years of loving and investing in her….a note saying the relationship is over. “Do not respond. I appreciate the time I had with the boys. And I will pray for you since you no longer believe in God.”
What?!? Ouch!!!!!! All that work. All that energy. And this is what I get in return the one time I disagree with you! That’s okay. I’m moving on but that one hurt for my innocent boys whom she also decided to so easily dismiss. What a grandma.
The second relationship has been strained for years yet I continue to invest. A few years ago she called me out on not loving her enough, not seeing her enough, using my four boys as an excuse (she had no kids at the time), not calling enough. I was angry because in my heart I knew I was doing the best that I could and giving her more than I was giving anyone else. But I sat with what she said and decided if she says she needs more she needs more and I stepped up my game. Without going in to detail let’s just say I did everything possible for a human being. Everything! And then 18 months later she asked for some advice and knowing what advice I needed to give she would likely not take well and then I would pay the price I simply said it was a matter in which I didn’t want to advise and I would recommend she and her husband see an unbiased third party. Well, wouldn’t you know, I can’t win with that either! I got reamed again about my inability to be a friend. My inability to invest in anyone. She even yelled at Mark for over an hour making remarks that he says are too hateful to repeat. He still hasn’t told me to this day what was said. GRrrrrrrrr. Seriously?!? This time I sat down and in 10 minutes filled up a page and a half of lined paper with things I had done for her in the last year that was above and beyond! After a few weeks of cooling down I sent her a letter explaining how badly my feelings were hurt and how frustrated I was. Her response, “This was resolved two weeks ago. Let’s move on.” Ouch again!!!!!
You’d think I would’ve learned by now but, no, I didn’t. I shoved my hurt feelings to the side, reinvested and surprise surprise I am being punished again but this time for stating my opinion on a situation. So you see I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. So this time I am choosing to don’t.
I might be a slow learner but the wall is finally high enough for me to avoid climbing it.
Looking at these relationships makes me understand how I made such a good christian. I can easily sacrifice much for a relationship. I am faithful. I am committed. I turn the other cheek until I’m raw. I look past inconsistencies and flaws until I am beaten down. Yep, I’m a pro at this stuff.
Today I am taking ownership. I am making a change and declaring it. I will not allow myself to be overtly submissive in relationships any longer. It’s not healthy for me. I will have boundaries and keep them. I will not work harder at a relationship than the other person. I will not stay in relationships that constantly attack my character. I will remain strong in who I am knowing that who I am is someone that I respect and like. I will continue to stand up for others when they are wronged even if that means I may lose a friend/family member. I will invest in people who actually love me and invest back in me.
And I will continue to evaluate my need to be a people pleaser because it certainly is not working for me.
I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end… I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. – Abraham Lincoln