Note :: I titled this one Thankful Friday on purpose. Was super busy yesterday and had no time to post this. (Yes, I was reading. You would miss posting something too if you were reading Caraval! Ahem*)
I’ve heard many people say things like, “My greatest regret is losing this relationship…”
I’ve also heard others say things like, “That’s the best relationship I’ve NEVER had…”
And over the past few years, I’ve taken time to evaluate relationships I’ve had, still have, or have lost.
It was hard for me to decide whether or not I benefited from losing certain people in my life, but after much thought and clarity… I have to say I’m grateful for the relationships that didn’t work out.
(I’m talking about both romantic and non-romantic, by the way.)
Let me talk about friendships first.
I’ve been back-stabbed, insulted, and used in certain relationships with people who I thought were my friends. Other times, I found myself being ignored or forgotten about by people who “regarded” me as a dear friend. Some disappeared from the radar and I never heard from them again, and a few others, as well as myself, didn’t bother keeping in touch.
I didn’t mind being forgotten by friends that I never shared a strong bond with, but being forgotten by someone who referred to me as their “best or dear friend?” Or when the person I thought was my friend turned out to hate me without telling me so? That hurt. A lot.
For a time I had trouble letting go of people who either seemed to dislike or not care for me like they said they did. I felt like my self-worth was tied to how many friends I had and I felt like a failure when I was rejected.
But as I started getting honest with myself, only then did I realize why many of these friendships were not meant for me.
Superficial conversations, lack of honesty or sincerity, and no sense of equality or mutual respect are not the best ingredients to a successful friendship.
Either we pitied one another too much and failed to hold each other accountable, or a sense of superiority caused one of us to consistently tell the other what she wasn’t doing right most of the time.
In addition to that, most of my friendships were tied to people who either pressured me to do things I didn’t want to do, who I followed around and did what they wanted, or who didn’t really pay too much attention nor bothered to ask me what I wanted to do.
Then came a few issues that I didn’t confront. Like always belittling my own thoughts and wantings & lying to myself that I was perfectly ok with whatever my friends wanted to do. I didn’t bother to tell them what it was I truly wanted for fear of disappointing them.
Yup. I was a people pleaser.
As painful as it was, I knew that I had to move on from certain friendships. I also knew that I needed to start making changes within myself
But were all my broken friendships cut off because of insincerity, betrayal, or pain?
I regret that I took some friendships (that could have benefited me greatly) for granted without considering another person’s feelings. I regret that I didn’t take chances with certain people who I believe could have shown me what true friendship was all about.
There was a time when I wasn’t able to identify good people because of unresolved conflict in my own life, but I’m grateful that I’ve continued learning my lesson from those mistakes.
These “failed” friendships also taught me a lot about myself, and what I needed to make right. As the saying goes- If you want to have a friend, BE a good friend. So if I wanted to have good friends in life, I needed to make sure I wasn’t the one standing in the way of them.
Now… what about romantic relationships…?
This one was difficult to answer for the longest time, but I spent a lot of time asking myself hard questions to get the truth out of me.
I had battled with low self-esteem for so long and felt like a broken relationship was always my fault.
For so long, I bought into the lie that I was the problem in most of my dysfunctional relationships… I was the reason why the relationship was broken, why the person I was with was angry, or why the person I cared for didn’t want to speak to me.
I had my faults. I had unresolved issues that I needed to confront, but I came to realize that I was heaping too many burdens on myself that I wasn’t meant to carry.
I began to realize that I didn’t have to be with someone I didn’t like even if they thought I should be with them. I also realized I didn’t have to throw my self-worth away to please someone who couldn’t see it.
Instead of allowing those I dated to take responsibility for their own actions and feelings, I was trying to rescue them from something they themselves needed to address. But as soon as I realized that I had a voice, and that I could give myself permission to use it rather than for another person to speak for me, I found my freedom.
The relationships I thought I had lost became relationships I was glad were done away with.
The nights I cried myself to sleep thinking I was the problem and that no one would or could love me because of it turned into memories I laugh at and raise my glass of Jasmine tea to. 🍵🥂*clink*
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
The lies I had believed, the manipulations I endured, and the mistreatments I received made me ask myself, “What did you see in that relationship? Why didn’t you get out sooner?” To which I respond, “Because I was a fool. I was a fool to believe that I couldn’t go on without a relationship. I fooled myself into thinking I couldn’t LIVE without that person; that I needed him, and that he needed me. Yeah, I was a fool.”
Whether I was simply in a relationship to try filling a hole I had in my heart, to not be alone, or settling with someone who I knew wouldn’t love me the way I hoped he would, I was still making a terrible mistake trying to keep something that was never meant for me.
Letting go of such relationships was extremely difficult. Extremely difficult…
It challenged my fears of being alone and thinking I would never find another person to love me like ______. I had no choice but to rely on God to fulfill those needs I was desperately looking to have fulfilled by people who couldn’t love me unconditionally.
But in taking that step to rely more firmly on God… there was freedom & joy.
Sure, for a time I felt lonely without the friendships or romantic relationships I thought I needed to survive. It felt uncomfortable to do something outside of what I was used to doing…
…but if it hadn’t been for those changes I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Don’t get me wrong now…
I’m still learning how to ‘do’ relationships with the people in my inner circle, but I’m so glad I get to do it with THEM.
Ive also learned that I don’t need people to fulfill every single one of my needs. There are needs that only God alone can fulfill, needs that my friends and my husband can fulfill, and needs that I MYSELF can fulfill.
I’ve learned to love myself too. I’ve learned to explore what I love. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy drinking tea and coffee, I enjoy reading books, I love shopping, and have continued learn to accept my introverted, socially awkward self.
I’m also learning about forgiveness, unconditional love, mercy, compassion, and all sorts of other beautiful, messy things with my loved ones…
…that’s why, today, I’m thankful for the relationships that didn’t work out. Hadn’t it been for them, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the relationships I have now.
So if you’re reading this, if you’ve found yourself struggling with letting go of a friendship or romantic relationship, and you don’t think you can live without it… I’m here to tell you that you are much stronger than you think. You’re worth much more than others give you credit for. Don’t believe the lie that you’re not worth anything or that you deserve to settle for less. I was there once, and I’m proud of myself for finally choosing the road less traveled. You can do it too. ♥️