“No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that killed your dreams.” -Maya Mendoza
My previous blog, Relationships Expire, was geared towards friendships that sometimes need to be let go of due to the nature of the circumstances surrounding the friendship itself. While much of what I wrote about can most definitely be applied to romantic relationships, partnerships, unions and marriages as well, this particular blog will explore the excuses that we sometimes use as our reason for staying in a romantic relationship gone bad. Self-doubt, not wanting to be alone and not being able to make a decision – one way or the other – are key factors that oftentimes keep us stuck.
When I was growing up, Mama would always remind me, “Para ester mal acompañada, mejor ester sola.” Translation: You are better off alone than in bad company. Perhaps that is why I’ve always had the ability to recognize when a romantic relationship was no longer serving me OR the other person. I’ve never had a problem being alone. The reality is that sometimes we are the loneliest in a relationship. However, some of us prefer to stay in unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships. Why? Because we claim we don’t want to be alone.
Not wanting to be alone / lonely speaks volumes! If we don’t like our own company, THAT is a problem right there. If we don’t learn how to be in relationship with ourselves, then we will never know how to be in relationship with another. If we can’t love ourselves enough to recognize and acknowledge our needs, how will anyone else do so? If we can’t feel secure on our own two feet, nothing another person does will give us that feeling of security. If we subject ourselves to another person’s alcohol abuse, drug abuse and domestic abuse, we will continue to attract such behaviors at the expense of our mental health and physical well-being. If we can’t dream and aspire to achieve our dreams, no one can do it for us. If we can’t be exceptional role models of what healthy relationships look like for our children, then who will?
Some of us are what I call “routine junkies.” It’s a comfort zone of sorts or may even be a coping mechanism. It’s like we are unable to freely function if we aren’t chained to a routine of some kind regardless of how destructive it may be. We will maintain a stronghold on that routine at all cost – even if it robs us of our life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
Let me be clear here. There are definitely relationships worth getting in the ring for and doing the work for, and there are many resources and tools out there to help us do so. However, we must first be committed to working on the MOST important relationship of all – the one with ourselves. Only then are we able to come together, have unity of purpose and the skills needed to handle the inevitable conflicts and ups and downs of being in relationship with another person.
And just as there are people in beautiful, healthy, loving, productive and committed relationships for decades upon decades, there are those people who’ve been together just as long but for all the wrong reasons. These are the ones who’ve stayed way past the expiration date. Perhaps they have failed to see that the relationship / union / marriage has died? Do they stay because of the money? The children? The pets? The company? The convenience? The house? Comfort? Guilt? Self-doubt? Complacency? Because of what others may “think?” How they will be “viewed?” Lack of drive or ambition? Lack of self – respect / self- love? Fear of confrontation? Lack of skills? Lack of support? Lack of expectations? Inability to make a decision? Fear of starting over? Fear of the unknown? Fear of being alone? Just plain fear?
A long time ago, a psychologist recommended a wonderful book on relationships to me. She prefaced the recommendation by saying that, although the title had the word “marriage” in it, the book was a great tool for anyone fighting for or wanting to be in a healthy relationship. The book, Fighting for Your Marriage, is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). The book is divided into 4 parts: Understanding the Risks on the Road to Lasting Love; Teaming Up to Handle Conflict; Enjoying Each Other; and Staying the Course. I found the book very helpful during a time when I was in one of THE most challenging relationships of my life. It helped me to realize that we were both on two very different pages and stages of our lives.
Around the same time, I attended an Omega Conference and one of the keynote speakers was Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt. Together, they published a book, Getting the Love You Want. This book also has an accompanying workbook for couples. And like with many self-help books and programs, part of the work / success comes from examining our own issues, agendas, childhood, traumas and other stumbling blocks that keep us from getting the love we want – and so rightfully deserve. I have come to learn that if we do not have a healthy, loving and compassionate relationship with ourselves, there is no way we can reap the beauty of being in a healthy romantic relationship.
Another book that is a game changer, and one I have also passed on to others, is Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum. If you are unsure as to whether you should remain in a romantic relationship or call it quits, this book is a step-by-step guide that will help you make a decision and remove self-doubt from the equation. After all, self-doubt can sabotage the healthiest of relationships, never mind ones in disrepair. This isn’t a book that will tell you ways to fix a broken relationship; it is one that will help you choose whether to leave or stay in the relationship. The scenarios in the book cover just about every challenging issue you can think of and will guide you to make the best decision for yourself. Whichever decision you make, you will feel confident doing so. As one reviewer noted about the book, “A powerful self-help resource for anyone caught in a web of relationship distress.” Hmmmm….I like that term, a web of relationship distress!
I think it’s safe to say we all enter relationships having certain expectations. However, times change and people do too. The more we evolve, grow and mature, the more we come to realize that some romantic relationships MUST have an expiration date. We can acknowledge and honor the fact that we came together for a purpose, we were each other’s teacher, we can identify the value we each added to the relationship yet know when to walk away……respectfully, wisely, compassionately, consciously and maybe even lovingly.
One thing to remember, is that you’re not alone in any of these scenarios. There are people in our lives who support us and have our back, tools to help us identify the root causes of our troubles, professionals that can guide us in working the work, practices that allow us to feel deeply rooted, stable, and supportive, and resources that we can turn to for inspiration, encouragement, motivation, wisdom and enlightenment. The key is tapping into these resources!
Darlings, happiness, joy and love are our birthright. Oftentimes, the only person keeping us from claiming them is ourselves. We don’t need to remain in a dead-end relationship that is robbing us of these gifts. The choice is ours to make. It always comes down to choice making. The key is making the most evolutionary choice…..the one that will free us to fly, dream, soar, be happy, joyous, live fully, embrace our magnificence and, perhaps, even find love again!
Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC
PS- During the month of February, I will be blogging on Sundays and Wednesdays only.