A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

photo_hands-1They say that people come into your lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

It seems like it has been more “reason” and “season” than lifetime for the last little while. And it’s those I thought were lifetime that are really throwing me for a loop.

Relationships that I thought would always be there, but for whatever reason, seem to have run their course.

People who I thought had my back, but who really don’t.

Love that is conditional.

What does it say about them? What does it say about me? Why does it happen? Have I changed? Have they changed? Or is this just the natural flow of life and relationships, and I have trouble accepting that?

Lots of questions. Not many answers. And more questions.

What defines a relationship? What is the glue that makes it strong?

Is a shared past powerful enough to keep a relationship together? Or does it need ongoing maintenance and nurturing? Getting together with old friends is fun and nostalgic, but how many times can we recount the same stories over and over again? If the relationship is to continue to be meaningful and current, it feels like it needs more.

What about the ups and downs? The ups are easy. The downs, not so much—but how we navigate these speaks volumes about what you truly have together. The only way through the rough spots is when two people decide to work together—two people who care and are engaged, and who choose to do the dance of friendship together.

I have had, and continue to have many wonderful people in my life. Some I think will be brief, become meaningful. Some I think are forever, end up not being that.

And some of them crush me. The ones I think are rock solid that aren’t. How fragile they are, and how little it takes to break them. This is what surprises me the most.

The intense feeling of loss makes me feel untethered, as do all the emotions that come with it: anger, hurt, betrayal, sadness, abandonment, devastation, and despair. Why are they so hard to let them go? Is it because my expectations are too high? Or because I imagine them to be more than they actually are?

To me, relationships are ultimately about two people who, to varying degrees, care about and appreciate each other. Two people who somehow make the other one better, and are willing to put in the time and do the work to try to understand and help each other.

For most of my life I have fought to save relationships at all costs. But that’s changing. It takes two people to make a relationship work—we’re in it together or we’re not. And perhaps there are other changes taking place as well. My tolerance for bullshit is dropping. My idea of what it takes to maintain a good relationship is evolving. And maybe I am starting to realize, albeit begrudgingly, that some relationships have simply run their natural course.

There are very few I can count on to be truly forever. In the end, everyone is temporary and everything ends. There is an ebb and a flow, and the reality of life is that people come and go.

As hard as it is, I cannot allow myself to continue to be crushed them. It messes up my head and makes me sick. I know deep down that what I must learn to do is appreciate the “reason” or the “season” I have been given with them, think about what I may need to change moving forward, let them go, and wish them well. And carry in my heart the good they have brought to my life.

I need to stop resisting, trust that things are as they were meant to be, hope that the pain and anguish will fade, and that eventually I will feel some measure of peace.

I need to get out of my own way.

But it sure ain’t easy.

The Roles We Play in Relationships

There are the obvious ones: husband, father, son, uncle, friend (or insert any of your own here). But it occurs to me that beyond these are the actual characteristics or scripts I engage in within my relationships, and how these change based on the other person, circumstances, time of life. And I often create these scripts to help balance out the opposite in someone else. I think it helps propel us in a more productive, positive, or healing direction when our roles complement one another.

For example if a friend is super rigid, responsible, anxious, or uptight, I will become the opposite for them because having two anxious people interacting together will generally not be helpful. Or if one is a free spirit, then I feel it is my role to be the voice of reason–to bring it down to earth. But the voice of reason really is not that much fun, not for me or whoever I maybe reasoning with. Much more fun to go where the spirit moves you, and not have to think too much of consequences.

I do this for what I perceive to be the greater good, but I wonder how limiting this can be when feel I have become locked into that persona? Typecast in a way I guess. But the feeling of resentment can start to creep in the more I become locked into a particular role (and that’s never good). The simmering or repressive feeling that I get because I have been playing a particular role, or following a specific script for too long, and that it has defined me. Others can relax and not have to play the heavy because they know I will do it.

It can be avery lonely, heavy, and frustrating place to be. Like the weight of the world (well, the roles anyway) is crushing me. Sounds a little melodramatic I know, but there it is.

I think the key lies somewhere in the balance between selfless and selfish and not allowing it to go too far in either direction. But I find this very hard, particularly when I have played the role for too long, and can’t (or don’t know how to) break free.