Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ending a Relationship

He was sobbing.  He didn't understand how she could do this.  Had it all been a lie?

I remember standing with my friend as he faced the end of his marriage.  She said she never loved him.  She said it had always been terrible.  And his heart was breaking because he just didn't understand.

My heart was breaking for him.  She was also my friend, but I was hurting for him.  This was something she was doing to him.  She was hurting him.  She was the bad guy.  I never got her side of the story.

When a relationship ends it's easy to feel like we need to take sides.  Those of us on the outside seek to understand so we know who's side to be on.  Maybe not always, but often enough that we should be ashamed.

No matter how close we are to the situation, we are not those people.  We do not feel what they feel.  We have not experienced what they experienced.  We do not know why they made the choices they did.  And no matter what is said or who is blamed, we probably have no real way to know what happened.

I have never ended a marriage.  I have never had my spouse end a marriage.  But we did come close.  I did ask him to move out.  And he was so angry. 

I didn't understand.  I was trying to save our marriage.  I believed that separating would help us figure out what was wrong and heal without being in such close proximity that we were destroying each other.  He felt rejected and powerless.

And that's why being in relationships is so scary.  We are giving power to the other person.  By choosing to love someone, we are giving them the power to hurt us.  Sometimes relationships end because both people want them to.  Other times, one person chooses to end it and the other person is at their mercy.

This is true of any relationship that involves love.  When you love and value someone, and they remove themselves from your life, it hurts.  It could be a parent.  It could be a child.  It could be a friend.

For me, it was a friend.  I am the one who ended it.  And I am seen by many as the bad guy.

I guess I am, in a way.  I didn't handle it well.  I was so afraid of hurting her that I was not direct.  I slowly removed myself from her life.  Little by little we were just no longer connected.

Friendships are tricky things to end.  It's not like you file for a divorce from a friend.  Where is the line?  How do you tell when a friendship is over?

I was not angry.  I do not think she is a bad person.  In fact, I think she is an incredible person.  I admire her a great deal.  But for whatever reason the friendship was no longer good for me.  I think we grew in different directions.  I think we both changed so much that we didn't fit together any more.  Even after trying to put it back together a couple of times, it just no longer felt right.  It felt forced and fake.

The relationship was not good for me.  I'm not saying she wasn't good.  We weren't good together.  I was unhappy.  I wanted out.  The more I tried to make it work, the worse I felt about myself.  I was being untrue to myself by pretending I could make it work.

Ending our friendship hurt her.  I am sorry about that.  I hate the fact that I caused her pain.

But it is my responsibility to take care of myself.  Our relationship was causing me pain.  Maybe that is selfish, but I believe it is what was right for me.  I wish there were a way for me to make the decision that is right for me without making a decision that caused her pain.  I couldn't find one.  And I did try.

We had many good years together.  I am a better person because of her influence in my life.  I think of her often and hope she is happy.

And I know I made the right choice.


Bonnie said...

I've spent a lot of years thinking about our emotional obligations to one another, having been left by a husband while very young, and leaving another husband. I've sometimes had a hard time with friendships for the reasons you outline here ... that people expect things that are unwritten and you have no control over, that they grow like ivy and start sending their roots into your foundation and sucking away your strength because they want to be so danged involved. I'm often tempted to rip the whole thing off like ivy running over the house. And sometimes it needs cutting back. I wonder sometimes how to even find the balance I want. I sure do like people, and I don't want to just like them shallowly. It is tricky water to trust.

Just like mustard and milk, both of which I like in different dishes, sometimes we have to acquiesce that they don't go together. I agree that sometimes people can be like that too.

Linda said...

This is sad Robin. Relationships are so dang terribly hard at times when it becomes time to end them. Hopefully, we don't have to because it is difficult to part with understanding on both sides of what is happening. I do not envy you.

I've been free lately of having to deal with relationships and I've come to realize it is easier without them but tragic at the same time to be without them.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Relationships are such complicated things!

Tagtraumbärchi said...

That was an incredibly great post. My best friend is currently in two minds about whether to end her relationship is the right way to go or not. She's an awesome person and very important to me and I can understand that she neither wants to hurt someone nor does she want to be hurt.
I can also relate to your post a lot because her relationship, almost destroyed our friendship because I just couldn't get along with her boyfriend...and now we are facing this together yet again and I'm willing to help her as much as I can....because I want her to be happy.


(I had to delete can find my new blog here )

Saretta said...

Ending a relationship is always kinda messy and pretty painful however you go about it. Powerful post!

Lisa said...

I agree with everything bonnie said. I also wish I knew how to seperate myself in a healthy way from those I love but just don't "go with" anymore. Does anyone have a good way of doing that? This post was great for me in both the relationship and friendship side. I'm dealing with both (not my relationship, but a friends). Thanks for sharing!

MaggieJo said...

The first time I was left heartbroken because of a ended relationship, my relationship with my Savior grew. I pray that every time I feel abandoned, I will turn to him instead of away. That is the saddest part of all.

LBDDiaries said...

Good post. I am also facing the end of a friendship. It is one I am absolutely getting nothing out of and it has been lopsided that way for a long time. I was just letting it die but perhaps I'll be more direct now that I read this.

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

This is a great post. I have had a much harder time ending friendships than actual relationships. It feels like there is a protocol to breaking up with a significant other, but none with a friend. I, too, am guilty of just allowing it to die a slow death. It is so hard to be direct when the person is a good person and is trying to be a friend.

ChaiLicious said...

So difficult to end a relationship...or to let someone end one. I have a friend who has broken up with me a couple of times because I can't give her what she needs (more one-on-one time). She has no children. I have five, plus grandchildren.

The silver lining is that she has since made many like-minded friends she enjoys. When I see her, she seems fulfilled, and though I feel a sad emptiness (that she probably does not notice) for me, I feel great happiness for her.

She did what was right for her, and I cannot help but applaud such a move. After all...I was doing the same by being true to my own priorities and needs inside my own family.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness....this post is me! I have ended friendships for no good reason except for the fact that it doesn't work anymore. One has been my friend for over 30 years and was in my wedding. I just couldn't be a "friend" because we became more like acquaintances towards the end. Not making each other a priority in our lives. It's still difficult to face the fact that I was just as guilty as the friendship evolved, changed and eventually dwindled away.