THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES we develop different relationships. It starts at birth with our parents and extended family and, as we grow, we start developing relationships that can last a lifetime with friends, co-workers and lovers. Relationships, no matter what kind, are a necessity for our growth, but what happens when a relationship becomes toxic or unhealthy?
Recently two friends of mine attempted suicide after their intimate relationships failed. Each of them believed they had given all they could and did all they could do to make it work, but for some reason, no matter what, the relationship failed. They believed that they had invested every aspect of themselves into that relationship. They gave that other individual everything.
As I listened to them discuss their experiences, I began to think about the times I have felt the same way, as if I had given so much of myself that I had nothing left to give and had nothing left to live for. I felt as though my life was over after the relationship ended, and no matter how badly they mistreated me, I wanted them back. It made me wonder where this comes from. How do we as human beings get ourselves into relationships that are unhealthy and leave us feeling even more empty and alone?
Relationships, no matter what form, should help you grow, challenge you to be better, and support you. They should never fully deplete you; instead, they should enhance your life. I know it is easier said than done, but if the relationship is not making you better, then you have to cut loose and move on.
Sometimes we don’t focus enough on ourselves and this can be very dangerous. Relationships are a vital aspect in our development, but so is self-care! Sometimes loving yourself means letting go of those who aren’t contributing to your life in a healthy way.
I am not saying that every relationship you encounter will be perfect all the time because it won’t. Friends argue, lovers argue and, of course, family argues; it’s a part of the relationship and healthy disagreements teach you things about that person and yourself. I am also not saying that you can’t sometimes give more to another person than you do yourself. That’s part of a relationship as well. You will find yourself giving more than the other person in certain ways, and vice versa. It is all about the balance. Yet, when you notice that you are giving more most or all of the time, you must pay attention.
You must learn what your limits are. Not knowing what you are willing to accept can lead to physical, mental or emotional abuse. There is no quick and easy solution for this at all, but there is definitely a starting point. You have to first love yourself, which can be hard, especially if you grew up in an unloving environment. However, it can definitely be accomplished.
Whether we care for ourselves by reading self-affirmations, seeking a psychologist, or surrounding ourselves with a loving community, it is imperative that each one of us knows how important we are and that we have a purpose and reason to why we are here. Let’s learn to not only embrace others, but to first embrace ourselves.