These last few years seem to be a process of decluttering for me. Lately, this has extended to my social life. I have always been one to believe that being positive, respectful and kind to others will result in them extending the same to me. But then I hit my fifties and I realized that this is not always the case; that there are some social connections which are just not healthy. And I have been disconnecting from them. I no longer attend functions that I am not interested in or excited about. I finally feel free to simply say no. Over time, this backing away has created distance with certain acquaintances which is fine with me. In truth, I never really clicked with them in the first place. I just thought “nice” girls were … well … always nice. But “nice” can be over rated when your own emotional health is sacrificed.
Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in being kind and loving. This is not about “hating on” people, or jealously or judgment or anything else along those lines. Sometimes it’s just a matter of chemistry. Sometimes certain people just don’t mix well together. Maybe it’s because we are all broken in one way or another. And, perhaps, certain variations of “brokenness” are not compatible with others. In fact, I would say, some combinations are toxic. Now let me be clear: People are not toxic. But some relationships are. And the best thing one can do is to excuse themselves from the whole narrative, then go and focus on more positive connections.
Look, at fifty something, for the first time in my life, I really think about Time. I want to spend the rest of my time doing positive things with positive connections. I still care about people. I still want to help others. It’s just that some people are best loved from a distance.
I have warned my daughters about the type of people who are highly competitive. These are the ones who are only satisfied when they feel they have outdone others. Heaven help you if they set their sights on you. They will absolutely, heart-breakingly put you down to their own satisfaction. Your words will be twisted, facts will be slightly altered, comments will be hurtful and “jokes” will be anything but funny. These are the type who encourage a mind-set of their superiority and your inferiority. And if you stand up to them? Forbid that you actually treat them as they treat you! They will tantrum and attempt to cause all sorts of drama. How sad for them that the only way they feel good about themselves is by putting the rest of us down. Interestingly, in the end, these people are actually a slave to others. Because without feeling superior to every one else, they have no self esteem at all. They need prayer. From afar. Very far.
In reality, there is no place for competition among people. We all have our own individual backgrounds, talents, gifts, phobias, etc. So, the priorities and challenges of each life are individual. For example, I had a traumatic first few years of life. This is nobody’s fault or failure. This was just some tricky circumstances for a little girl to maneuver. I remember being an anxious child. I also remember being well loved by my Grandparents, especially my Grandmother. However, it took me to 16 years of age before I finally started smiling and laughing. I know this because some close adults at the time mentioned the change in me and made positive comments. Well, since this time, as an adult, smiles and laughter have defined my life. “You have a beautiful smile” and “I love your laugh” are the two most popular compliments I have received. Now, this – smiles and laughter – are a great success for me, given my early years. I would say, for my Grandma, this would be considered a little “miracle”. But to others, hey, it’s just some smiles and some laughter. Easy peasey. This highlights my point that there is no valid competition against others. We each have our own struggles and success for me is not necessarily success for you. And vice versa – you may have struggles that I just breeze through without thought. This is why relationships work best when people encourage and help each other reach their own personal potential. With no judgment. With no comparison. With no winner/loser mentality. But with love.
I have let go of relationships that are unhealthy like I have let go of foods and habits that are unhealthy. This is not necessarily an emotional thing. It doesn’t even have to be a “labeling” thing. I compare it to my daughter who can’t eat bread because she is allergic to the gluten in wheat. In reality wheat is not toxic; gluten is not toxic; bread is not toxic. But to my daughter who is celiac, these items are toxic. Now, my daughter does not crush the bread, or stamp on it, hurl it in the garbage or scream at others who enjoy bread. She just recognizes that bread is toxic for her. And she lets others choose for themselves.
So it is with some relationships and some people.
Love without limits.
But set boundaries that show your love extends to you too.