Not all relationships are romantic.
Not all relationships are between two people.
And not all of our relationships with non-people are with our pets.
We have relationships with ideas, ideologies, feelings, and memories.
We have relationships with places and things.
And sometimes when those relationships end, it’s messy.
We’re so used to the idea of breaking up in romantic relationships, but when it comes to ending other kinds of relationships, we lose our vocabulary. Unfortunately, sometimes that means we just avoid ending those relationships. And other times it means that we find really unhealthy ways of ending those relationships.
I was in a really bad relationship with a friend and roommate back in undergrad. She gaslighted me about everything from telling me that my depression was “a need for drama” to trying to convince me that I had never figure skated as a child. One night, she and I formally ended our friendship, and it was one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done. That night, not only did I break up with a toxic friendship, I broke up with the self-doubt and guilt that kept me bound to her.
And then there was a guy who was one of my very best friends ever, who I spoke with every day and confided absolutely everything to, who it became clear over time wasn’t being similarly honest and open with me. And then one day, he ghosted. And the loss felt like a death; but still more hurtful in that it was a rejection that didn’t even care to acknowledge the pain it caused. And the part of me that I had given to that friendship was now filled with fear, sadness, anger, and self-doubt. I realized that I would never get closure from that other person, but I could sit down and figure out what I still believed about that person, and what I still believed about myself, and what I still believed about friendship. And at the end of that meditation, I was able to leave behind the fear and anger and self-doubt, while still permitting myself to mourn the loss.
Some of us need to end relationships with employers in order to allow ourselves to grow. Some of us need to break up with dreams that we come to realize aren’t right for us. Some of us need to give up on family relationships; or at least with the hangups that our family relationships have fostered. And we owe it to ourselves and to those with whom we’re in relationships an honest conversation and a clean (if not pretty) break.
Posted in: Love