Several years ago, 13 to be exact, a counselor recommended I read “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It wasn’t until 10 years later, when I was facing the decision to file for divorce, I actually read the book. Shortly after reading the book, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Cloud speak on his newest book at the time, “Necessary Endings.” The combination of that lecture and the book changed my perspective forever.
Until that moment, I was a naive woman who believed things could always be worked out with enough effort, things could always get better. For those of you who know me, you know I am a fighter, I absolutely refuse to be a victim and to not thrive in any and all situations. No matter what comes my way, there is always something to learn or growth that needs to happen. I will always be the ridiculous optimist, I will always argue good will come from every situation.
Sadly, it was not until last year, about 3 years after I read “Boundaries”, that I actually started putting boundaries into my life. Last year was a hard year for me, both personally and professionally, perhaps the hardest year of my life yet. But, as the eternal optimist, I grew more than I ever dreamed possible. I lost myself, and then found myself again. I reinstated positive habits and finally feel like I am me again, well, that feeling came in January. I rode high on that feeling for about two weeks, suffering from a mild case of hubris, and then crashed down. The past four weeks have been challenging, stressful and made me question everything in my life.
The past couple of weeks have forced me to do a lot of reflection, to question all my relationships, and to really look hard at myself. And I did not like everything I saw. I did not like how I had let myself become overly reliant on one person. I did not like that I was struggling to communicate with my husband. I did like that I was communicating my concerns with my husband and that I was not bringing work stress home with me. I did not like how distant I felt from people. So, being me, I mediated more, I prayed more, I exercised a lot and I unplugged. I took two weekends to just be me, to cry, to scream, to be angry, to listen, and after all that I have found peace.
That’s the good side of the growth. The bad side, I came to realize I had unhealthy relationships that needed to end. That is where Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, “Necessary Endings” comes into play. During his speech, I learned there comes a time to end all things, continual assessment of all things, personal and professional must always happen. And when a relationship or product are not proving to be fulfilling, it is ok to end them. Let me expand on this thought. First, let us look at it professionally. When a program or product are not meeting expectations, are costing money or losing money, a complete assessment is necessary. From this assessment, one can either tweak details to make the program or product successful, or it is deemed time for the program or product to end. In business, we call this good decision making.
The same is true for our personal lives. Why do we continue to have relationships that are costing us or taking away from us? Why do we continue to be friends with the person who never has their act together and every time they call, we cringe? Why do we continue to allow ourselves to be used by people who would not or will not help us? Or why do we stay in a relationship, that while not toxic or outwardly harmful, does not encourage us to grow and be better? These are harsh questions, but ultimately questions which will lead us to a better and happier life.
I found myself in this position. I found myself facing the question of ending a relationship or not. After talking to a counselor, I was even more confused. It is very important for me to be true to myself, to be me. I am a loyal friend. By ending this relationship, I felt like I was being a disloyal friend. And my question was, could I live with that? Could I get to a place of self peace? The answer, yes. Upon reflecting on what the counselor said to me, I found the answer in the Shakespeare quote, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” And so, to be true to myself and my beliefs, to take myself out of a potentially toxic friendship, this relationship must end. It was about me and what I needed not, the other person.
These weeks have been hard, and the hard, uphill battle is not done. Rather, for me, it has just begun. I have a lot of soul searching to do, and a lot of self growth to undergo. But, I am excited. I am eager to see who I become and where I go. For me, this hardship was what I needed to prompt the self growth and to ensure I am not suffering from hubris, I certainly do not want to follow in the path of Jason or Hercules, but rather, I am climbing Sara’s mountain.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are unhappy, or your gut is telling you something is off, if you are not looking forward to seeing a person, stop and ask yourself why. If you find yourself struggling, like me, seek the help of a counselor. They can and will guide you to a healthier place. Ending relationships is not always what needs to happen, sometimes an honest conversation or a break is all you need. But do not allow yourself to not reach your full potential because of a relationship. Seek the help of a mental health provider and create a path to reach your full potential.