Several questions this week about leaving relationships that feel out of balance. Is it okay to leave them? How do you do it? This is a question that relates not only to friendship but to all kinds of relationships, including with things – job, school, etc. For now, I will stick with friendship. There is so much more; I hope this “less” is thought-provoking.
When a friendship is out of balance, it usually means that we feel as though we give more than the other person does. In the short term it may mean that we experience fleeting moments of anger or disappointment or hurt. In the long term, I think that these relationships left unattended can leech vast amounts of energy, creativity and love. To simply condition ourselves to expect less or train ourselves to give less are options that usually mask another movement: going on past the end of something.
Perhaps we need to think of our friendships in a different way. With regard to the new, what if we looked for, and were alert to, people who are attracted to our fullness rather than to our vulnerability? What if they saw the broken wing and imagined how beautiful it will be when we can fly, rather than thinking that they should carry us? These people respond to our giving not by taking, but by really receiving … and then feeling so full that the irresistible response is to give something back. It is not that they have to, but that in the course of relating, it is a natural movement, each giving and receiving and then rising up to give again. Like the waves or the wind, relationship.
With regard to older relationships, ones that have a particular rhythm and way already in place, the answer is not so much in the decision we make – should I stay or should I go? – but in where we stand when we make it. After all, a decision to stay that is filled with resentment is a messy subliminal contract. I will stay with you, and hate you (and me) for it. By the same token, a decision to leave a relationship but to take all of the baggage with you – the residue of things never reconciled – is not really leaving. The runaway is not free of the relationships he or she leaves behind.
In these matters, Bert Hellinger’s thoughts on completion always come to mind. I see it this way: a relationship can be complete in each moment. In other words, I already have everything with you. I am not waiting for you to change, or for me to change; I am accompanying you as I proceed in your company. If at some point, you move too far ahead or fall behind, I will notice and speak. If at some point you lean too hard or are not there for me when I stumble, I will notice and speak. If the friendship cannot sustain my noticing or yours, my telling or yours, then we can consider how we go on. If you cannot consider with me, I will make the decision, one that protects both love and strength. No matter what, I know this much: it begins with gratitude. You will never not have been in my life and I will never not have been in yours. With this in place, what happens next is lighter and sweeter. We are already complete, you and I.