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Finding Gratitude: In Failed Relationships

Finding Gratitude: In Failed Relationships

Photo on 8-19-13 at 11.09 AMIt’s November and our theme for the month is, of course, Thankfulness & Gratitude.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, think about the things you’re thankful for.  And then reevaluate it.

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.

6-2-2006-027The 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 teenage brideboyfriend 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.

  1. file9811339708744.jpgThe 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.
  2. 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.

 


RELATED POST

  1. Terry

    19 November

    The only Graditude I find in my former marriage is that I have a wonderful Daughter out of the deal. Other than that… I was just young and stupid.
    Terry recently posted…Spinal Curve Solutions ~ Mini Spinal Curve Restorer Review ~ Helping My Back, Neck And Shoulder PainMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Ah but Terry, you are negatively self labeling yourself. That takes a toll on you whether you know it or not…choose your words and thoughts carefully because they define you. Thanks for reading!

  2. Lisa

    19 November

    After my divorce, I was so full of hate toward my ex-husband. Very much like your divorce it was a bloody hurtful battle till the end. My wise Aunt told me to pray for my ex every day. I thought she was nuts! Why would I pray for him. She reminded me that he would have my children every other weekend it might not be a bad idea. She reminded me I needed to pray that he would be blessed in order for those blessing to fall on my children. She called me every day for 6 months just to ask “Did you pray?” Soon my anger turned to peace. It is hard to carry hate for someone you pray for every day. I know now that exercise was more for me. She didn’t want that hate to turn my heart to bitterness.
    I think I need to give her a call this season, she is 85 now, and thank her for what she did for my life.
    I still say a prayer for my ex. Old habits die hard.
    Lisa recently posted…Blogging Makes Me a Better PersonMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      Oh, I love that story! You speak the truth! I’m lucky – both my ex husbands died (after I divorced them). It’s so much easier than when they’re being the daddy that takes them to the circus and you’re the mean mom that makes sure they have homework done.

  3. Winter

    19 November

    I really have no past relationships. I married my first boyfriend. We started seeing each other when I was 16 and I got married at 20.

    I have been there for a lot of friends though and KNOW how much hurt they have gone through.
    Winter recently posted…Recipe of the Day~Baked Alfredo Rigatoni PieMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      Good for you, Winter! So many of us can’t say that. You must be doing something right. You’ll have to share your secrets sometime!

  4. Rita Von

    19 November

    What great wisdom in this post! It really is true that we need to stop thinking of past relationships as failed to appreciate what we’ve learned from them. It also feels great to let go of all of that anger! I really enjoyed your post, thank you for sharing.

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      Thanks for stopping by and reading Rita! When the storm is behind you it’s easy to see the wreckage for what it is.

  5. Mary

    19 November

    I find gratitude in “failed” relationships because when I go back to them, I always learn something about myself, or sometimes see something in the other person that reminds me of me. If it’s something that I perceive to have been the downfall of the relationship, I work my hardest to make a change. Sometimes we can’t see the negatives in ourselves, until we look from the outside in, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. I think I’m a better person now because of the relationships, both good and bad, of the past.
    Mary recently posted…NickMom #MotherFunny Moment: Giving ThanksMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      It sounds like you’re in a healthy place – of course that’s easier to do when the bad relationship is behind you, right? A good role model, too!

  6. Jessica Hehir

    19 November

    I had a ridiculously bad relationship in college. I spent a lot of time being embarrassed at my stupidity. Now I accept it. I realize it led me down the path to my husband. I would not change a thing about that journey. The ending was worth every step.
    Jessica Hehir recently posted…Downton Abbey Inspired Plate CoversMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      Owning up to ridiculously bad and stupid is hard – I’ve had to do that myself. The good part is the lessons you learned from that will never leave you. Making you a much smarter woman.

  7. I lost my husband in September – unexpectedly due to cancer. I am very grateful for the 11 years we had together and all that we shared.
    Sheri Ann Richerson recently posted…Today On ExperimentalHomesteader.com – November 19, 2013My Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      Sheri, you’re going through something that’s so hard to imagine. I admire your strength and my hope for you is to celebrate your relationship, as well as your husbands life by choosing to live a well lived life.

  8. Melanie S.

    19 November

    I feel like I learned something in all of my past relationships that helped prepare me for my current one. We’ve been together 13 years now, married for 8 of them, and we’re still going strong!
    Melanie S. recently posted…We’re SMILING IT FORWARD™ with TYLENOL®!My Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      19 November

      Victory! And you know what they say about a life well lived…it really is the best revenge.

  9. Melinda Dunne

    19 November

    I love this post! I also try to be grateful for failed relationships. Life is a journey and a road of lessons, some good, some bad but no matter what I take the lesson, learn from it and move forward. Even in the worst of relationships I have learned things like what I know I want and deserve.
    Melinda Dunne recently posted…Personalized Gifts From VizardzMy Profile

  10. Anonymous

    19 November

    This definately makes you think about the good as opposed to the negative…but thankfully I have my baby girl whom is now 19! Would never ever change that!

  11. Wendi Watson

    19 November

    This definately makes you think about the good as opposed to the negative…but thankfully I have my baby girl whom is now 19! Would never ever change that!

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Wendi, I believe it when they tell me that which you focus on becomes bigger. I choose to make my life better with positive people instead of negative memories. Thank you for reading!

  12. Nicki

    19 November

    This is really thought provoking, I know i need to find gratitude for the people that hurt me, i just need a little more time. Thank you for this post, really eye-opening.

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      A favorite quote: hanging on to anger and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die! Thank you for reading.

  13. Angela Addington

    19 November

    If children came out of a past relationship, I would think we would all find that to be our treasure. I know my daughter certainly is.
    Angela Addington recently posted…We Love Mei Tais Giveaway EventMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      We see that only if we want to…I’m glad that you do! Thank you for reading!

  14. Candy

    19 November

    Had a lot of bad eggs until my hubby so I kinda know how u feel
    Candy recently posted…Maternity Photographer in Bucks CountyMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Experience provides us with powerful lenses! Thank you for reading!

  15. Maria

    19 November

    I love that you can reflect on this and move forward. Great lesson!

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      We are the author of our own life! What we focus on becomes bigger…I want that to be happiness not bitterness. Thank you for stopping by Maria!

  16. Becky

    19 November

    I think that we can all learn from our past. This post was full of wisdom & I loved reading your story.
    Becky recently posted…Red’s Orange White Russian ~ After Thanksgiving Dinner DrinkMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Becky!

  17. I have a former friend and we had a toxic relationship, don’t get me wrong, she was a lot of fun but I found my voice at the end. She would put me down a lot but not anymore. I learned to speak up for myself.
    The Frugal Exerciser recently posted…Make Your Own Biggest Loser Fitness CampMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      I almost think those are the hardest relationships to end. But toxic is toxic, you have to surround yourself with the love and support you need!

  18. Kimberly

    19 November

    The gratitude that I find with my ex is that he gave me a beautiful son and moved states away so I hardly ever have to deal with him. I am very thankful that it’s just my son and I so we can be happy together.
    Kimberly recently posted…Weekend Wrap-upMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Oh boy, Kimberly! Do I understand that! Both of my ex husbands died years after we were divorced…I am not afraid to admit life was just a little bit easier for me AND my kids

  19. Malia

    20 November

    I find gratitude in all my past relationships because they all have impacted my life in some way, even if just a tiny way.
    Malia recently posted…FREE Photo Holiday Cards & 5X7 Photo Book from York PhotoMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Yes ma’am!

  20. Lexie Lane

    20 November

    All my past relationships were horrible, that’s why they weren’t part of my future. BUT I do appreciate all the things I learned through the sadness and tears. I am who I am today, which I think is a much stronger person, because of it all. So to all the sucky boyfriends I had in the past – thanks for making my life a misery when I was with you!

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      You know what they say – the best revenge is living well!

  21. katherine bartlett

    20 November

    I’m grateful that I hated him so much that I found my husband

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Amen!

  22. I am very grateful that I have not experienced really bad relationships.On the other hand my sister had & I see her struggle to overcome them 🙂
    Bibi @ Bibi’s Culinary Journey recently posted…Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils Soup)My Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      You really are lucky..so is your sister to have your love and support! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  23. My gratitude for past relation ships…would be knowing what I DIDN’T want in the next one!

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Relationships are kind of like jobs aren’t they? You have to have a few you don’t like in order to know what you do! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  24. Corlie

    21 November

    Barbara you have said it really beautifully, just because a relationship has ended does not mean it failed as such. I have learned an enormous amount from my “failed” relationships. Be it friends, or boyfriends and even family. Life evolves with our relationships and makes us who we are, my most valuable lessons have mostly all come from friendships that ended, some which now looking back I realise I could have saved, and some have come from romantic relationships that ended, all of which I am glad ended when it did because it would have totally gone pear shaped otherwise and it would have stopped me from meeting Pete, which would have been an utter tragedy!
    I love your posts, thanks for your sagey insights 🙂
    Corlie recently posted…“Indigo here we go!”My Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      22 November

      Corlie, your lovely comments are SO appreciated. One of my favorite quotes is from Wayne Dyer – change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change. We are in charge of our own happiness, so I’m just trying to claim mine.

  25. Vicki M Taylor

    23 November

    I never thought to be grateful for a failed relationship but your post turned a lot of my thoughts around. I appreciate that. I’ve had many kinds of relationships that like you said, had a life cycle of their own, and when the time came, they ended. Good, bad. Indifferent. I’m going to think about this more. Followed you from SITS. Have a blessed day.
    Vicki M Taylor recently posted…Suffering & Sickness – Is it Time to Vent or Repent?My Profile

  26. AwesomelyOZ

    24 November

    I think that Terri stated it well. There are some relationships that you cannot look back at with gratitude. I am grateful for my son but I would’ve been better off never being with his father however, it is what it is and I am better now but some relationships we cannot help but consider as “failed” and full of regrets. Now I had friends from elementary school that I no longer interact with and it was a fallout due to their inability to be happy for me today. I dont consider that “failed” and I hold on to the wonderful memories we’ve developed throughout the year but sometimes relationships do run their course and I presume our friendship did. Have a great weekend Barbara! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently posted…NaBloPoMo: The Post I Almost Didn’t PublishMy Profile

  27. When I look back on my past relationships prior to marriage what I am grateful for are the lessons I learned, some after the fact.

    I’m even more grateful that the struggles, hurts, abuse and pain have been healed and now are a tool for me to teach and share with others to help them heal.

    We can’t change the past, no matter how bad, but we can accept it, learn from it and move forward. All things work for good…..
    Danielle @ More Than Four Walls recently posted…Life in the Slow Lane, Are You Being Left Behind?My Profile

  28. […] week I talked about Finding Gratitude In Failed Relationships.  My challenge for this month was to find gratitude in unexpected places.  Places you […]

  29. Kay Comer

    29 November

    LOVE your blog! I’ve led such a blessed life…same old geezer that I still adore, for almost 50 years, great kids, grands and great grands. I feel life is what we make it…always has been and always will be… and I often write about living our best life now in my blog “Bird’s Eye View of the Katydid”
    http://www.birdseyeviewoftheworldofthekatydid.blogspot.com
    Kay Comer recently posted…Remember When? And Why I’m ThankfulMy Profile

  30. Kevin Morgan

    6 December

    I don’t think there is such a thing as a failed relationship. There are only lessons to be learned. I learned a few!

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