Monday, September 17, 2012

3 Tactics For Dealing In Broken Glass

Worth mending? I think not - a new glass would be better

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. ~ Unknown

One week ago I posted this quote. Without question, the best quote I posted all last week if you measure by visible interactions - number of comments and likes. It was universally well received because everyone can related to a relationship in their life like this.

A sister.

A friend.

An ex.

A co-worker

An acquaintance 

Doesn't matter who it is or who you are - you can relate to the very true statement in that quote. These types of relationships are also referred to as toxic. We all have THAT relationship that just is better off broken.  However for some of us, those of us who consider themselves  self-aware and healthy emotionally speaking - this is an extremely tough thought.  People like me who start over every day.

I believe in the gift that is a new day. Every day I look at life as a new opportunity. I even tweet/post every Sunday morning a "New day, new week = New mercies, new opportunities" thought for the upcoming week.

When you live like that, you believe in giving yourself a new chance so that extends to those in your life. And that is the rub.

Many people do not deserve another chance with you. It's harsh but true.

Many people don't really want another chance with you. That's why they hurt you repeatedly.

Many people don't love themselves. So they can't possibly love you.

So what do you do with those people? If you are indeed forced into contact or are related to them and expected to have contact in some way/shape or form.  Here are the three things I do with broken relationships:

Small doses.

Little to no real time investment is ever spent on relationships that I consider broken. I am considerate when we are going to be in the same functions but do not go out of my way to see or spend time with these people. Be yourself always, just in small doses. For me that means remembering their birthdays because that's who I am. No need to buy crazy gifts but sending a card and calling even though it may be painful and you don't know what you will get - you will feel better if that is part of who you are. Don't allow someone else to cause you to lose who you are with them. Just keep it in manageable doses.

Keep contact short and simple.

When forced into contact, I keep it very light. No deep probing questions, nor do I share deep or personal details about me. Think the Christmas card update if you do or receive those. Very 30,000 ft in nature.  This can be difficult because toxic people usually don't have many boundaries and will absolutely divulge lots of information not appropriate for your relationship. Listen when forced and offer little to no advice. They don't really want it and especially not from you. Be courteous and be brief.

Always be honest with them and yourself

The toughest but best policy. Many times when you realize a relationship is toxic you think you have to avoid or be dishonest with how you truly feel about them and the state of your relations with them. No way. The very few toxic relationships I'm forced to have, have their annual "volcano moment." The moment when the toxic person confronts you for your aloofness towards them and wants it to be better but does not know how to do it. You offer some suggestions and point out exactly why things are the way they are but do not put any hope in long term change. Toxic is toxic for a reason. You love these people and want the best for them and right now (and most likely always) that means telling them the truth and keeping them a safe distance away.

This is not easy and by no means is it pain-free. I just had a volcano moment in the most toxic relationship in my life. I am literally still shaken from the deep hurt I experience with each contact I have but I am at peace.

I do my best and am ready to have a normal relationship with this person whenever they are. That's the problem with optimist like me. But the realist in me keeps me sane which is why I'm also prepared to follow my three steps for the rest of our time on earth together.

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