Letting people go from your life. (Warning: super long post)
This can be a hard place. You’re caught in a relationship where you are surrounded by constant drama. You feel like something is always your fault (or at least they say it is), you feel sick at your stomach every time you see them on the phone. You can’t always put your finger on it and can’t explain how they shut you down or make you feel, but you avoid being around them at all costs.
You thought at first maybe you just “misunderstood” what they said, or you thought “maybe they didn’t mean it how it sounded.” You may feel your opinions don’t matter to them. Your time-schedule is overridden by theirs and your convenience less important than theirs. Maybe they have a sad story and a background of pain and you got tangled up with them in your effort to help them. You thought you could help them see love. Help them see a better way but years have gone by and you find yourself fighting the same battles over and over and all you get from them are excuses. They start conversations off with criticism or critiques, so you hear yourself constantly apologizing. You would feel so relieved if you could wave a magic wand and wouldn’t have to deal with them anymore. But you have no magic wand, so what do you do?
Everything you just read has happened to me. Yep. I just told you part of my story. I use to live in a cycle of not wanting to hurt people’s feelings and being afraid of confrontation. I ran from drama like it was the plague. Well, that’s not true. I actually didn’t run. Instead I tried to stay and put out the fire of drama with the sacrifice of my own sanity and peace. I would do whatever I could to please the other person so the anger would stop. This anger came from emotionally unhealthy adults, friends, family and pastors in my life. People who had allowed personal hurt and bitterness turn them into emotional abusers and people who tried to escape their own insecurities and defects by belittling, being cruel to and controlling everyone around them. These people displayed what I have now come to know as the hallmark of an abuser, they never took responsibility for their own actions. There was always a way they could put blame on someone else.
Do you find yourself in my story? Do you hear yourself constantly saying, “Fine, I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy,” or “I’ll be the one to bend. I’ll be the one to make adjustments so you can have what you need/want?” My dear friend, there is a time a place for self-sacrifice in a relationship BUT IT’S NOT EVERY TIME!
I would like to share with you what I’ve learned about knowing when its time to say, “Goodbye” to these people.
I could write pages and pages on choosing to love anyway, overlooking a suffered wrong, seeking Godly counseling, working to make things better, matching your help with their effort, etc. but that will have to be another post for another day. Today you need to know that there is indeed a time when its ok to leave. It’s ok to not stay anymore.
First of all, what I have to share are simply principles I’ve learn along my journey. These are not “rules” nor is it a comprehensive list of things to look for. Each situation is different so the #1 thing you must do first is PRAY. Pray for God’s wisdom. He knows the things you don’t. He knows their hearts.
So with that said, here are some flags and points you need to go over in your heart as you evaluate you relationships.
- Do they have respect for your boundaries and your heart or do they bulldoze right through?
Did you know it’s actually an instruction from God to “Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).” This is not just a suggestion. You are called to be a caretaker over your own heart. There is nothing valiant or Godly about letting others run over you. Sometimes we get it all confused in our minds that if we love someone we should take whatever negative comes with it. Now, I’m not talking about a 1 strike and they’re out kind of rule. After all, 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love overlooks a suffered wrong. I’m talking about intentional, chronic, toxic, and selfish behaviors. Laying done and be a martyr to these types of people is NOT guarding your heart and it will affect everything else in your life.
- When you have talked about the problem or expressed any of your needs, do they listen or do they come back with a list of how defective you are and how you are at fault?
This is called blame-shifting and lets you know their heart has no interest in changing. What’s more, they have no interest in seeing how their actions hurt others. They close off all input from others in their lives when it’s not what they want to hear. Maybe you’ve even gone to counseling and they argue with everything the counselor says. This person’s heart is closed. Its sad for them because an open heart is critical for true, lasting change to occur.
- Do you feel like a little more of you is dying every day you stay with or are around them?
If yes, it may be because you have continued to give in to their constant demands. At this point, you may literally feel like you have nothing left to give. You already tried to change the parts of you they didn’t like, and they still weren’t happy. You think things are going well and they still blow up on you leaving you feeling like nothing you do is ever enough. Guess what? Nothing you do will EVER be enough because the problem is not with you. The problem in IN them. People like this have such internal issues that nothing anyone can do is ever enough. Happiness comes from the inside. You trying to arrange everything perfectly for them on the OUTSIDE will never fix their INSIDE issue. Only them reaching out to Jesus can do that.
If you find yourself in a relationship like I’ve described above, and you are ready for peace, it may be time to cut ties and walk away. This is NOT a cruel choice. This is NOT a heartless choice. This is doing exactly what the Bible teaches and a “guarding your heart choice.”
So what do? You pray. You ask God for His wisdom. The situation may be such that you can just “let distance happen.” Sometimes a confrontation isn’t necessary. Sometimes you can simply quit being available for this person every time they need you. You could quit having time to hang-out. This lets them know YOU are in control of your life, not them. They may become angry. That’s ok. Let them own their own anger and don’t pick it up as your responsibility. It’s not your job to keep them happy. That is their job. Them getting angry when you are no longer available may show their motive for friendship wasn’t pure to begin with.
If a conversation is necessary, keep it about YOU. If you try to justify your reasons by pointing things out that they do/did, they can argue, twist, and manipulate the conversation. Remember, that’s what they are good at. Talking about them would only put you in a position to defend yourself. You would have to back up your claims and they will win. They will win because they have become masters at controlling these types of conversations. That’s why no change has occurred before now. They are masters at twisting truths and making your brain freeze up. Controllers naturally try to control. They try to control the outcome of every situations to keep what they believe is theirs- control.
An example of what keeping the conversation about you looks like would be you saying things like, “I’ve decided I no longer want this relationship” or “I’m choosing to not continue our friendship.” You don’t have to justify your reasons. They may try your emotions first by crying or begging for forgiveness (again). They may start making promises. If that doesn’t work, they may change their tactic and become angry, threating and accusing. Stand your ground. Keep bringing it back to, “this is MY choice and I choose to not continue.”
They may go quietly or they may not, but stand your ground and walk away. Letting them back in your life would only let them know that THEY are in control of your life and they will have even less incentive to change. After all, they know you will just come back again.
So, be encouraged. There is a way out. A way that others before you have had to walk but it was worth it. Healthy relationships understand boundaries. Each person is valued and appreciated for their individuality and one doesn’t feel the need to constantly control, or be controlled by the other.
Letting go of toxic relationships, people I thought I was helping, has actually freed my heart and time to be of greater impact and others who truly want help and change. Letting go has enabled me to be better for my family and has enabled me to step into my calling.
Choose to only keep healthy relationships close around you. Choose to let go of chaos and receive peace today.