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Sometimes in life, we have relationships that challenge us.
Let's be honest. All relationships are challenging on some level. Human beings are never perfect and life is all about rubbing off each others' bumpy edges.
But there are some relationships that are, at their core, confusing and unsettled and never quite what you want them to be.
Still, despite the setbacks and frustrations, you just keep trying
to bring your best to those people
to keep a positive attitude
to assume the best of their actions
to hope that things will eventually get better
to trust that underneath the chaos lies a healthy bond of mutual trust and love.
And the years go by and still things stay the same but you keep up that optimistic, sunny hopefulness because that is just who you are.
Before dawn on the South China Sea, cool mists drift over the waters.
Then, someone new enters the picture. This person is in a position to observe all these relationships first-hand and has the opportunity and insight to see them as they truly are. A neutral outsider with no vested interest in one person over the others, this newcomer really just wants everyone to succeed.
And one day, this person sits you down and says, "I don't know if you are ready to hear this, but I need to tell you what I see."
And as you listen, this person speaks truth about these relationships as you have never heard it before. They understand, with blinding clarity, what you have done and what you have received and what you have felt.
And you realize that the truth has been before you all this time, but you just weren't ready
to hear it,
to see it,
to accept it
to deal with it
But now you are.
Emerald jungle wraps around our vantage point, and the screech of hidden insects builds with the morning light.
And in this moment, you come to realize that these relationships are broken, unhealthy and beyond your power to repair.
All the wishful thinking in the world will not make them whole.
And by holding on to that naive hopefulness for all these years, you have been making yourself vulnerable to pain and dysfunction that you don't deserve.
It's time, this person tells you.
It's time to draw firmer, clearer boundaries around yourself.
It's time not to hate or blame or demonize, but to create enough distance to protect yourself from more distress.
It's time to stop sacrificing your own well-being for more misguided attempts at reconciliation with people who are simply at a different place than you are.So you draw a deep breath.
And you gather up your courage and strength.
And you start learning how to let go and move on.
Slowly, imperceptibly at first, the light over the sea shifts from grey-blue to silvery gold.
As the weeks and months tumble past, you realize each day anew just how true and right your fresh perspective feels. An ugly weight has been lifted off your shoulders, off your spirit, off your soul.
But then a sad suspicion begins to creep nto your heart and mind.
What if, you start asking yourself,
What if I am repeating this same mistake in my other relationships?
What if I am holding on to other damaged relationships and convincing myself that they are healthy when in fact they are just as shattered and broken?
What if I am not capable of knowing the difference between a healthy relationship and a messed-up pseudo-connection?
And in that case, who are the people in my life that I can truly trust?This is a scary and lonely place for you to be.
Though clouds obscure the horizon, the sun slowly edges up through the remaining darkness.
So you withdraw.
You pull back from as many relationships as possible
to calm yourself down
to feel safe again
to think things through
to protect yourself from any more pain as you try to sort this out.
And as more time goes by, you realize there are no easy answers.
You will never know for sure who to trust.
You will never have perfect relationships.
You will, undoubtedly, feel hurt by how other people treat you.
You will undoubtedly hurt them too.But somehow, out of these dark thoughts, a beam of light will appear.
Keep going, it says.
You can't just give up on everyone.
You have to keep trying.
You have to learn the difference between giving your heart away to those who don't deserve it, and locking your heart away from those who do.
You have to dare to love people, even if you can't be sure they will love you back in the way you want to be loved back.And that all makes a lot of sense but you still aren't sure exactly what to do.
Eventually, the full circle of the sun clears the mist and drenches the day in dazzling light.
So you try to draw a deep breath.
And you begin to gather up your courage and strength.
And you hope to start learning how to let go and move on.