Last week I talked about Finding Gratitude In Old Photo’s. My challenge for this month was to find gratitude in unexpected places. Places you wouldn’t normally think to look for thankfulness or gratitude. This week I’m focusing on Finding Gratitude in failed relationships.
From the moment you’re born, you are entered into a relationship. First with your mother & father, then your siblings. If you’re lucky enough to have an extended family you will be introduced to them very early as well. As you begin school, you begin learning about relationships with people that aren’t related to you, school mates, teachers, & counselors. You start to mature and you begin relationships that are of an intimate nature – first boyfriends & eventually husband(s). You go out into the world and start a career and you establish working relationships, some of these are often of a political nature.
Not all of our relationships are good ones. Not all of our relationships can stand the test of time. Some we hang on to because we’re obligated by bloodlines, some for reasons of proximity, like neighbors, and some because we need them in our career. The intimate relationships we have are usually the ones that evolve the most.
The first thing I have to do in order to find gratitude in failed relationships is, stop thinking of them as failed relationships. Relationships have a natural evolution. When a relationship runs out of gas or evolves into something else, something that’s not mutually satisfying, it’s time to move on. It’s how we look at the relationship from this other side helps determine how we feel about both the relationship and ourselves. At the risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, just because a relationship has evolved past it’s “due date” doesn’t mean the time you spent in the relationship was all for naught.
The family I was born into was a broken relationship right from the beginning. However, looking back I know that relationship taught me lessons about life I would’ve never learned any where else. Holding on to that relationship for obligatory reasons would only result in years of hurt and enough therapy to hang my own shingle out.
School friends in your early years seem more important to you than the air you breathe. You are most certain they’ll be in your life forever…BFF! The school friends I had are no longer in my life, but I have fond memories of them and thanks to technology they’re easy to find, connect and have a different type of relationship from afar with friends of the past. I always envied that college roommate relationship, but I didn’t go to college, and I think it’s easy to romanticize what you don’t have.
Anybody can tell you teenage marriages don’t usually last… And any teenager will tell you, the rules don’t apply to them, they’re different, they’re going to show the world! I married my first boyfriend when I was 17, and the ending of that relationship had all the customary high drama that you might expect. Fighting dirty over things that don’t matter. Feeling the love you once thought you had turn to hate and anger. It was in that first marriage I found my own voice, I discovered how to set boundaries I never knew I was capable of, and my kids, even though we grew up together, are turned into great caring people. It took one more marriage to figure out appropriate boundaries and learn I didn’t have to accept substandard treatment. This relationship was full of wild rides and lessons. I have some great stories to tell and I gained even more trust in my intuition.
There’s a group of friends you didn’t know you had till your intimate relationship ended…the people that gets custody of your ex rather than you. I think if that’s the case, it was time for them to go anyway. I am grateful for the time we had together, all the great conversations and wild adventures we took together.
The relationships established within a professional career seem to fall in to one of two camps – real friends or political cell mates. Those relationships are much like the school mate relationships. It’s sometimes unsure who will be in your life when you get to the future. Sometimes it’s out of sight out of mind. These are the relationships you can always revisit. It’s a given that these are the people that will be available to you for guidance, insight or validation when you need it.
In my quest for Finding Gratitude in failed relationships, I learned a lot about myself.
- The words I use to define a relationship are a mirror image of how I feel about a relationship. If I want to be happy, feel good about the path behind me, I need to chose my words carefully.
- Every soul that comes into a life may be the universe’s way of preparing you or sparing you from something you can’t yet imagine.
Can you find a place of gratitude in relationships of the past? Share them with me.