I very often see people struggling in their relationships, whether they are romantic partners, family or friends. Often these struggles have been going on for a very long time and create a huge amount of pain.
Lilly was in a long term relationship that was causing her endless heartache. Tom would say nasty things when he was drinking and unfortunately that was very often. It had not always been that way. When they were young and first going out he rarely drank, he was eager to try new activities and loved spending time with her. Things changed when they moved in together, he started coming home later and later and then not coming home. Lilly felt like she was walking on eggshells all the time because anything would set him off. She never felt like she could relax and started to suffer terrible migraines and bouts of depression.
Anytime Lilly suggested they work on their relationship or that he might cut down drinking Tom had a way of making her feel like it was all her fault. If she lost that ten pounds or kept the house cleaner or were more interesting, maybe he would stay home.
John’s mother was very critical of how he lived his life. During their weekly phone calls Mom insisted on a weekly run down of John’s accomplishments and would then pick them apart one by one. He came to dread Sundays. In person it was even worse. He started getting anxious just thinking about what to pick out to wear to dinner with her. No matter what he chose it would be too dull, too flashy, too expensive looking or not expensive enough. Holidays he used to enjoy now became a source of panic for him.
Hilda had been Pam’s friend for years and it was starting to wear her out. She supported her emotionally and sometimes financially during the long breakdown of Pam’s marriage. An agonizing event that took five years to unfold. Pam cannot begin to calculate the number of hours in person and on the phone she spent consoling Pam. The advice she took care to suggest just the right way, even though it was never followed. The money Hilda spent on cheering Pam up with breakfast, drinks or dinner. Now at a time in her life Hilda was having some challenges and reached out to Pam, Pam brushed it off and reverted the conversation back to herself.
These three relationships that although are different, have something important in common. We have the right to decide that a relationship no longer works for us. Even though society urges us to be “loyal” there are certain people we have connected to that continually drag us down. We continue in these relationships to the peril of our own needs.
If you believe you are experiencing one of these relationships, contact me because you matter just as much as anyone else!