May 6, 2017

Grief - Truth Serum for Toxic Relationships

An old good friend of mine died this month by her own hand.  I have mourned harder than I expected, especially considering that we had lost touch many years ago.  Events like that make you pause and examine your life, and your friends; they make you determine to draw closer to the ones that you love.

Grief has a flip side though, it peels back sentiment to reveal hidden truth.   

This is especially true for straight forward people who operate without agendas and subterfuges.  Open and honest people, who take others at their word can go through life believing that people who they love, love them back - they say they do after all.  Through grief, rose colored glasses are removed to wipe away tears; as the grieving person reaches out to loved ones, they can be shocked to find a sneering face looking back at them.

Shock envelopes the griever, both parties go through the charade, but for the first time, the griever knows it is an act.  Having operated for years in subterfuge, the manipulator never knows they have been unmasked.  

The honest emotion of grief sends the deceitful one scurrying away to the shadows where they have alway truly inhabited.   Adulters, liars, manipulators, and self-absorbed flakes can never truly give unselfishly of themselves to comfort another person, they are too broken.  The sad truth is, the only person they really love is themselves.

As the days and weeks go by, remembered conversations, flashes of memory, long forgotten events, small digs and subtle insults, hurt feelings, begin to come into focus.  With the rose colored glasses removed, the truth about the toxic relationship emerges.  Even in perfect times of peace and harmony, these relationships are selfish and one sided.  The realization is often as painful as the grief that precipitated it but facing it and dealing with it are a vital part of emotional healing and restoration.  

Every relationship has an emotional bank account. Each person makes deposits and withdrawals from the account as the relationship goes on. The depth of the relationship, the longevity, the closeness all contributes to the available funds. Those factors also contribute to the amount of "overdraft" protection the account has and how long an account in the red will be allowed to stay active before it is closed.

The most difficult thing we can do is close the account for someone we have loved deeply.  To walk away from someone that hurts us, to leave that relationship in the grave with the grief that revealed it, is the most empowering and freeing things we can do for ourselves.  Ironically, the person you are walking away from might not ever realize you are gone, but then again, that is exactly the point.