I recently came back to this blog and discovered a few posts that have been occupying my draft collection. This past year has bought so many changes – joys, sorrows, ups, downs, growth and setbacks…However as I learn and journal I continue to reflect back and see reasons to be grateful. At the end of 2014 one of the main areas I had learned a multitude of lessons was friendships and relationships. I am ready to dig deeper and grow more in who He has called me to be and not what others say I should be. It seems like an easy enough challenge, but nonetheless it is a challenge for the year 2015:
As a college student, so close to the end of my undergraduate career, the end of a semester is such a joyous time ! So at the beginning of this new year – at the end of which I am expected to graduate- I am filled with joy and excitement at all of the fun new possibilities and the opportunities for growth. In 2014 I saw a lot of changes occur in my life- some good and some bad. I met new people and I got to know old friends better. With growth came necessary changes and I ended a few toxic relationships at the end of 2014, but also began what I hope to be a new season of friendship in my life.
I recently told a dear friend of mine that my two greatest fears are being alone and heartbreak. In regards to being alone I was thinking of ” feeling alone in a room full of people” – being surrounded by people but not pouring into their lives and them being unable to pour into yours in a positive light. The relationships that ended in 2014 , unfortunately had to end because they were just that- eating away at me from the inside out and I had known it for sometime. I know that as long as I trust in God I am never truly alone and that He holds me safe in His arms,but the erosion of the heart and soul that can occur in toxic relationships can be painful.
So I was schooled not only in the ways of biochemistry and physiology in this last year but also in the mental, spiritual and physiological inner workings of relationships! – especially in regards to what types of people yield safe and unsafe relationships. I remember reading about “unsafe people” in a book my mom had suggested I read, by the same authors of the Boundaries book series, when I found myself in a pattern of choosing to be in relationships with “unsafe people” and being extremely afraid of becoming unsafe myself. So as I am reading through my 2014 journal and closing the pages I see where I wrote down 5 characteristics that the authors gave of unsafe people and I find encouragement and peace in the reasons those relationships had to end and just how I have made strides in moving forward from my past of toxic people:
“Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting; unsafe people are only concerned about ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ but safe people are empathetic and act on their empathy ( I Corinthians 13:5 – Love seeks the good of others; it is not self-seeking)”
I was always finding myself in these relationships of words – many “nice” things said but actions so contrary that they almost always consequently lead to mistrust, hurt, and sadness. So now I am trying to “look for people who show genuine concern for [my] welfare, then make that concern known in concrete actions.” I have been blessed in that this prayer has been answered in many ways – first in the ability to identify unsafe people and second – the addition of safer people to my life this past semester.
“Unsafe people resist freedom instead of encouraging it. ‘What does this person do with my no?'”
This was all to common in these relationships- my “no” was not respected, and was often devalued by the unsafe people in my life to the point that I was afraid to say “no.” I would dread the reaction that could possibly come out of resisting the desires of the other person. A lot of this is deeply rooted into my childhood, but nonetheless something that needed to be recognized as unhealthy and put out of practice for good. I was allowing my voice and who I am to be silenced by what others wanted. I didn’t want to cause a fight so I’d often comply. It wasn’t until I began to step out of this that I realized just how much I needed to end my pattern of compliance and unfortunately with that change came the end of those relationships that were rooted in compliance and not real love. When I started saying “no” more, the “unsafe” people began to withdraw more.
“The heart withers and dies without separateness. It’s impossible to connect if you’re not free to disagree. That kind of love is compliance and people-pleasing. It is not real love”
My counselor told me on my last visit that in dating a guy one great test that will tell you whether to run or stay is to tell him “no” and see what his response is. If your “no” is met by any sort of resistance then you need to run the other way because more than likely you will not be presented with the space to disagree in the relationship. This is true for any kind of relationship- if you are not free to disagree and honestly express yourself then it will be impossible to truly connect and have the level of intimacy you desire in your relationship that can only come from real love. There is such a joy and freedom in participating in a friendship or relationship that is genuinely rooted in real love where you can be honest with each other and as a result help one another to grow as individuals.
“Unsafe people flatter us instead of confronting us. Safe relationships aren’t just about trust, support, and sharing. They are about truth, righteousness, and honesty.”
Especially in this season of my life I am not looking for people to tell me to do what I want. I was extremely honest about things that I was going through and my confusion at times in the midst of these things, but I didn’t receive the same honesty in those toxic relationships. I was often told what I would want to hear because they weren’t genuinely concerned with my welfare but concerned with keeping me compliant. Whenever I sought to be honest in love it was met with anger and bitterness. I did not have a say- it was their way or no way.
“Unsafe people condemn us instead of forgiving us… Forgiveness is the glue of love” & “Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals.”
This was especially evident to me this past year – the more and more I deviated from my usual patterns of fear lead compliance , the more I was met with what these “friends” really thought of me. I was being myself more and voicing the thoughts on my heart more and I realized that I was being “parented” by these peers. They wished to control me to their liking and this became evident in their responses to apologies or conversations to reconcile offenses. You cannot have genuine love when there is no forgiveness. Bitterness and anger only make it impossible for real love to exist. When I saw that I was consistently met by these two I could no longer stand around and be belittled and berated as a “child” by someone who is my equal.