Sunday, January 5, 2014

When to Say When...

Part of my job as a special educator is to see within the student for the best part of them. This allows me to connect with them and gives me the motivation to keep pushing them to succeed. This is the part of my job that I actually do the best. I never, ever give up on a kid. Never.

But that's at work. Not real life. Not really.

So I pose the question: When do you know it's time to give up on somebody?


This isn't a "poor me" post. Far from it. I realize that there are millions of people out there, in toxic relationships, some formed by DNA, others by chance, who are struggling with the need to just say, "enough of your shit." Parents of drug addicts, children of alcoholics, friends of those who only take, mates of those taken for granted; all of them likely wonder when enough will become too much.

When do you allow yourself to say, "enough of your shit"? When will self-preservation kick in, and allow you to turn and walk away from someone who no longer deserves to have you in their life?

I believe love is one of the most nourishing and most self-destructive forces humans encounter. The same love that can hold you up and make every single color ten shades brighter is the same as the love that attaches you to someone that siphons off your life force drop by drop.

People will say, "those loves are not the same." Yes. They are. One lives in the light. The other lives in the darkness.

Love is about connection. Plain and simple. And sometimes the connections we form are with those people who will only drain, not replenish. We find ourselves lessened, marginalized when we are with them, which only forces us to desire more the very thing they refuse to, or can't, give back.

But will they change? This is a legitimate question. It connects back to my point above about being an effective special educator. You need to find the good in people, even when they try to hide it. And when you do, it becomes very easy to believe more in the possibilities of them being that amazing person, rather than accepting the reality of who they are choosing to be at that moment--especially if who they are is breaking your heart.

"there is no amount of love, compassion or patience that will help heal a person who wants to remain broken"

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in 2013 was that there is no amount of love, compassion and patience that will help heal a person who wants to remain broken. It is profoundly sad, it is heartbreaking, it is soul-crushing to watch someone insist on remaining in pain and refuse their potential. But there is absolutely nothing you can do if they insist on living in that dark place.

Well, that's not entirely true. You can choose to walk away. But it is hard. So hard. So easy to think that maybe just one more dose of love, one more connected moment, one more...something, will be the miracle.

You can choose to walk away--you. Only you. And that is OK. It's OK to feel like the burden of caring for a person who can't care for themselves is like a thousand pound weight gone from your shoulders. It's OK to mourn the person you hoped they could be, as long as you wipe your tears and realize that you a mourning an idea, not a person. It's OK to walk away.

What's not OK is to believe that the damaged version of yourself that was created when you were with that person is the real you. It's not. It's a wounded you. Worn down by trying too hard against an immovable force. Remember who you were before you met this person. Allow yourself some rest. Find your song. Find your smile. And leave behind those that would smother your spark.