Monday, October 31, 2016

Making an Exit

Recognizing that you’re involved in something that might not be healthy for you can be difficult. Whether it’s a relationship with a spouse, a job, or even just dealing with family; many of us have a tendency to hold on for dear life for fear of looking like a failure.

Historically, that’s been one of my biggest fears. The “F” word. Now factor in all the work, time, energy, and heart you’ve put into whatever the situation may be, it’s incredibly hard to let go. Sometimes there are subtle signs as the situation deteriorates slowly. Other times, they may as well have bought themselves a billboard alongside the highway.

I know for me, I’ve had to put an end to a few relationships just in the last couple of weeks. It always hits me hard, no matter how badly I needed to pull myself out of the fire. At my age, I can’t afford to waste any more time on people who consistently belittle me, threaten me, yell at me, or disrespect me. In the case of my family, I’ve gone back for a second helping of abuse soup because I felt an obligation to my mom or my dad to make things work. I’ve always shouldered a great deal of the responsibility because I felt like I owed it to my parents, even though my mom isn’t even alive anymore.

If enough time passes and just the right things are said, my brain is suddenly capable of forgiving the past, and I let these people back in. Only to end up as I am now; with a cellphone full of nasty voicemails and text messages telling me what a horrible person I am. Despite what some people may choose to believe, I truly am a good person, and I suppose I have trouble coming to terms with the fact that not everyone else is. It’s like an expression I once heard says, ‘You’ll end up very disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.” I think that applies to this situation perfectly.

Something similar happened last week with a working relationship. Technically, it was not a job, and no money ever changed hands. It was supposed to be a fun Saturday morning hobby, but we still attempted to maintain a working relationship with all involved. It became clear fairly early on that being friends was out of the question. However, for the sake of the project, we tried. I don’t think anyone else knew the difference, but we sure did.

My husband and I worked very hard to make this project a success, but unfortunately we just couldn’t keep hanging on to a situation that wasn’t healthy for either of us. Once a fun little hobby becomes a full-time job, without pay or benefits, it’s time to reevaluate the situation. When you add miscommunication, verbal abuse, and a condescending, know-it-all attitude from the person you’re doing the work for, it’s time to get out.

I don’t care what it is, even if it’s a million dollar a year salary, if you’re left sobbing every day due to stress, it’s no longer worth it. In the midst of all of this, I experienced a breast cancer scare, to which I can happily report that I got the all clear for now. (I go back in six months.) I kept on working because I felt like I needed the distraction. However, when family members or close business associates respond to hearing the news by saying, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot going on over here too” as you express your fear of possibly having cancer, seems like a pretty good time to get out of there.

Let me reiterate that many of us with bipolar disorder are terrified of the “F” word. I know that nobody wants to fail, but when your brain isn’t quite firing on the right cylinders, in the right order, it’s a daily fear. I didn’t take a shower today?!?!?
I’m such a failure. It sounds ridiculous, and I recognize that, but it’s true!

So, how do you extricate yourself from an unhealthy relationship of any kind? Obviously, it’s different for every person and every situation. However, if you already know going in that it’s going to get ugly, I’m not against writing a script for yourself, so you stick to just what needs to be said and not even engage in any of the back and forth arguing. I wish I had thought of it before now so that in the past I would have remembered to stay in my lane, and not engage in the childish bullshit.  Unfortunately, in my case, both eruptions occurred without a hell of a lot of warning, so I didn’t have time to plead my case using common sense and intellect.

I would certainly advise that you not make the same mistakes I did and lose your cool. Conduct yourself in a calm manner, don’t let them drag you down there with them. None of this is your fault. You never asked for, nor do you deserve this type of treatment. Believe me, I know it’s hard; but if you wholeheartedly know that a situation is no longer healthy for you, you owe it to yourself to exit stage left. Let me also add that with the way social media has taken over, it’s not enough to just unfollow someone on Facebook or Twitter. You’ve got to block them and fast before they can do any further damage to you psychologically.

Try not to feel guilty or as if you’ve failed. You are not the reason that this relationship went bad. Have you probably made mistakes at times, just as I have? Of course, I’m sure all of us have. However, if you’ve come forward and admitted to those mistakes or even apologized for the times when you weren’t at your best, that’s all you can do. If the other person still treats you badly, you can’t allow that person or people to treat you like you don’t matter. You’re better than that. You do matter, and you are enough. Don’t ever forget that!

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