Finding the courage to walk way

12 May 2021

I believe in building and nurturing healthy relationships, be it with family, friends, colleagues or romantic ones. Much like watering house plants, you need to constantly invest time, resources and love if you are to nurture health relationships. Not only do you need to nurture relationships but also define and communicate your expectations, and to do so openly and honestly.

If we are being honest, relationships are hard and require a lot of work. Add expectations to the mix and you are in for a rollercoaster ride because we all have expectations from the different types of relationships. Whether you are looking for love from family, companionship from a significant other, business opportunities or just someone you can count on, we all have expectations!

What makes relationships tricky in my opinion, is when these expectations are not clearly communicated and thus not met, or where the level of investment into the relationship is not mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, because we are irrational at times or have unrealistic expectations, things get complicated really quickly if not addressed.

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” Morrie Schwartz

Personally, I enjoy the relationships I have with different people and love spending time with those I love. From the fond memories spent with family to moments of laughter or uplifting conversations with friends. My relationships have also opened doors to opportunities that have benefited me both financially and professionally, where my professional networks and business associates helped unlock doors to amazing opportunities. I also do not take it for granted that one cannot just take from these relationships without pouring into them authentically and meaningfully.

The question I have, however, is what happens when a relationship stops being mutually beneficial?

What happens when something that was once beautiful turns sour, destructive, painful or toxic?

What if I am the toxic person in my relationship?

Picture taken by Seeng Theko

Over the last few years, I have lost a few relationships with family, friends and business associates each for different reasons for example, outgrowing friendships because our interests changed as we grew older or moved in different directions. I ended relationships with family members because it was emotionally taxing or abusive or had to terminated business relationships because our business goals were no longer aligned. For the most part, I had to admit and take ownership for the part I played in the relationship either deteriorating or ending because I was not entirely innocent.

With each lost relationship, I made an effort to introspect and seek understanding as to what went wrong and how I could improve going forward. At times I also tried to reach out to the person who either cut me off or vice versa to make amends which was not the easiest thing to do.What I also learnt is that breaking up with anyone is truly painful.

I recently lost another relationship with someone that I truly treasured and loved. For years, our relationship blossomed beautifully, with amazing travel memories, great business and personal development conversations and plans to pursue our dreams. One day, however, the relationship just ended without a warning or explanation. No calls, lunch dates or texts.It literally just end and things became extremely awkward.

Desperate to fix things, I attempted everything possible to make sense of what went wrong. With each attempt, however, I lost a piece of myself because I blamed myself for things going horribly wrong. I spent days beating myself up, talking negatively about myself and judging myself for some of the things I could have said that contributed to the relationship ending. I almost three years cracking my brain, trying to find the reason (s) that could possibly warrant termination of the relationship. Worse still, without any communication from the other party.

For the life of me, I could not make sense of any of it and this continued to break me (especially because I was intentional about working on fixing my broken relationships).

What really happened?

It was only recently that I learnt that I was the problem in the relationship. For some reason or other, my entire existence had become a problem for the friend. My ambition and drive invoked feelings of inadequacy and jealousy in the relationship. In living my life, pursuing and chasing my dreams, I somehow ignored how this made the other person feel, how it made them feel insecure.

Because I had standards and strict timelines for achieving my goals, I unintentionally imposed the same expectations on the other person, unconsciously putting them under immerse pressure. While being myself in the relationship, I did not realise that my energy and demeanour were no longer what the person needed and I failed to recognise that the person was overwhelmed, while I was too busy by being myself in the relationship. Though I still love this person dearly during this entire experience, I did not realise that the relationship had ended many years ago and there were no compelling reasons for the relationship to continue. The damage was done and there was nothing I could do or say to salvage it.

How did this affect me?

Broken, hurt, shocked and bitterly disappointed, I had to come to terms with another relationship ending. The beautiful memories and conversations once had were now all part of my history.

I felt guilty for contributing to another relationship ending and struggle to make sense how being myself and pursuing my dreams could make someone feel insecure about themselves, but unfortunately it did. I felt terrible for making someone feel pressured to live up to my expectations or making them feel inadequate. This realisation was a bitter pill to swallow, especially because this was never my intention.

Picture taken at LM Foundation launch

Where to from here?

Though coming to terms with this reality was extremely painful, I had to find the silver lining and learn whatever lesson I was supposed to learn. From this experience I learnt the following:

  • Forgive yourself and remember that it is okay not to be okay.
  • Remember that not everyone will like you, your energy and demeanour.
  • Do not dim your own light to make others feel secure.
  • Pursue your dreams because they are valid.
  • Find your tribe, not everyone is for you and keep going.
  • It is okay to let go and walk away from relationships that aren’t healthy.

Hanging onto relationships that have ended can negatively affect your mental and emotional well-being. In my case, my desperate attempts to fix and nurture broken relationship actually damaged me more than I care to admit. I do still believe in nurturing healthy relationships it is, however, important to know which relationship to nurture, invest time, resources and pour energy into. It is not every relationship that requires this level of investment or that will allow you to be yourself without making other people feel insecure around you.

If like me, you find yourself in a relationship where your authentic self is nauseating for the other person, do not beat yourself up. Have the courage to walk away, find your tribe where being your authentic self is appreciated, be relentless in pursuit of your dreams, nurture relevant relationship and get on with it.

Picture taken by Slug. Digital

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