To the Abandoned and To Those Who Walk Away
To Those Who Have Been Abandoned,
What I want you to know, most of all, is this: You are worthy of love. Love that stays, love that protects, love that commits, love that hopes, love that stands its ground, love that believes, love that nurtures, love that delights, love that trusts, love that inspires, love that promotes, love that values, love that provides, love that rests, love that leads, love that beautifies, love that challenges, love that evolves, but ultimately, love that stays.
The heartbreaking truth is, dear little ones, this love is sometimes carried around in people who are imperfect, and sometimes those people are broken in and of themselves. People get scared when things are hard. They get scared when they don’t think they know enough, or have enough.
They care about you, and they fear being blamed if things go badly. They fear losing you, or sometimes they fear losing themselves. They fear their own feelings. And sometimes, instead of letting themselves be afraid, they get angry. Anger feels so much more powerful than fear. When they are faced with something that’s uncomfortable, that’s out of control, they are scared, so they shield themselves with anger.
Anger believes that control is the answer. Regrettably, this is a lie.
Love does not control.
And so, they leave. In so many, too many, soul-invalidating-many cases, they leave. This is not your fault.
On the one hand, those who walk away should perhaps have been willing to deepen their own self-awareness. Being in relationship – whether with a survivor of anything, or not – is directly akin to being around a mirror 24/7.
My favorite quote from a recent new blog post, “Why I Fight My Wife,” by Tyler Wardis, in talking about “the mirror phenomenon” says the following: “If we look in a mirror and see that our shirt is wrinkled, we don’t iron the mirror. We iron our shirt.” But too many close relationships end when the other person finds that they cannot “fix” us.
Woefully, they never realize that it’s not their job. They not only don’t need to, they can’t. They never realized that relationships are about each person coming to a deeper understanding of themselves and their own issues. Relationships are a beautiful opportunity to change the only person we can change: ourselves. Instead, oftentimes, people leave, and continue on their search for a different mirror.
I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. I know it makes you wonder if you can ever be loved, and if you will ever have anyone who understands. These are hard questions, and I have asked them myself. I don’t necessarily have any concrete answers for all of them except to refuse to abandon yourself. I know this is probably different from a lot of things – or even everything – you’ve ever heard. But it’s the truth. And I can tell you this: No matter what happens and no matter what anyone else says or does, you can choose not to abandon you. You can choose to be there for yourself, always.
I thought this was a cliché for many years, so I understand if it sounds that way to you now.
The flip side of all this is, at this point in my life, I cannot vilify anyone anymore. Everyone has a role to play in our lives, whether they come and stay, or whether they come and they leave.
Sometimes people simply don’t have what you need. Sometimes they’re hurting or healing or in denial, and your mess just reminds them of their own, or maybe it brings up too many things they don’t want to look at. Sometimes they just aren’t deep enough, or don’t have the energy or time.
I truly believe that most people don’t intentionally go out and do hurtful things; they’re just reacting in ways they may not fully understand. I think sometimes people really do give what they can, and that’s all they can do. I used to think that if someone left my life, all of the love they gave me before their departure was somehow canceled out; voided. Like it “didn’t count,” just because they weren’t able to stay forever. Now that I’m older, I see a huge fault in that line of thinking.
Things that are given that are done out of kindness and compassion – love, support, encouragement, prayers – are eternal. They sustain us and help us through that moment when we need it. We cannot always hold onto the human, even though we want to. But the gifts they gave us will be with us forever, and we cheat ourselves out of what we did receive, when we discount them.
This is all so confusing because our lives on earth are lived in moments within a finite framework. But because we are created for eternity, we have the sometimes-baffling experience of desiring something eternal, but not yet encountering it in each other. Everyone is in a different place in their process.
What would be nice is if all of these people mentioned would be more careful with their words.
My issue stems more from people speaking hastily without thinking it through, than what they actually do later. My wish is that people would be much more careful about speaking things they cannot follow through. I personally had a lot of people come into my life with big promises, about being forever friends, soul sisters, spiritual moms, etc. And they are all gone now, except for (maybe?) two.
But please, dear ones, know that abandonment is not your destiny.
It may take time for you to find the ones who will stay – the ones who can. They are a rare breed, and may not even know who they are yet, or what strength and love they truly have. But I speak from experience when I say: they will be worth it.
To Those Who Walk Away,
You are forgiven. Be free.