I recently had a mid-life crisis.
Sounds fun, huh?
Not so much.
During the emotional turmoil which was that season of my life, I discovered (and shared about how) I was a relational harlot – for years. The crisis is over, though, and life has thankfully moved on. I’m officially a recovering relational harlot at this point. From the messages I received after my post, it sounds like some of you are moving into that category, too. Good for you! I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be happier. I pray the same for you, as well.
So, not only has life post-crisis moved on, it’s changed – a lot.
Some days I willingly embrace my new-found relational freedom. Other days, like a drug addict in rehab, I crave my former life and wonder if I was really hurting myself as much as I have recently come to make myself believe. No matter if my feelings align or not, I’m daily left to make a conscious decision to still live as authentically as I always have (and always will) but not as transparently as I – and everyone else – have become accustomed.
After a few minutes of doubt, some prayer, and a lot of grace with myself, I feel confident in my decision once again…until the next time, when I repeat the process over and over again. I guess that is what people de-toxing from old, unhealthy habits do. As I “get healthy,” I don’t want to get so caught up in not going back to my old relational habits that I am tempted to move the complete opposite way, which wouldn’t be healthy, either. That wouldn’t be profitable and would just lead to another rehab program down-the-road. No, thank you.
I’m daily committed to finding the happy relational medium.
- I’m learning how priceless my marriage is and how much my husband means to me and deserves my undivided attention. I’m learning relationships are few and far between where both parties, whether in a marriage or a friendship, are being mutually transparent and giving; they may be rare, but they truly are a taste of Heaven on Earth. I am more consciously aware of these relationships’ value and uniqueness. Moreover, I am more devoted to cultivating these few relationships, especially with my spouse, instead of giving so much of my heart to so many and not getting much (if anything) in return. I’m learning you can be loving without giving all of yourself to every single person.
- Furthermore, even though it feels so wrong to even say that, let alone do it, I’m learning self-preservation, at least in a way, is Godly and good. I’m left to show more wisdom and pursue “wide-open” relationships with people who don’t question my heart (You want to really hurt a hyper-relational, honest-as-they come type of person ? Just question their motives.) and desire to reciprocate the transparency I’ve always so easily given. Moreover, because I’ve consciously preserved myself and not expended myself (even if sincerely) to the point of emotional depletion, I’m left with more emotional energy to “love” the masses from a healthier distance without unintentionally needing anything from them or getting hurt when they don’t (for whatever reason) accept my genuineness.
- I’m on my phone a lot less. This is still a work in progress (ask my husband), but I’m slowly losing my desire to constantly “connect” with people via text, to “Like” everyone’s latest status updates on Facebook, and everything else that can easily deceive you into thinking you have a close, mutually-giving relationship with someone when you have the furthest thing from it. My phone doesn’t blow up nearly as much as before, because I’m intentionally taking a step back and not initiating contact with most. I’ve slowly realized that, because of my former propensity to live life wide-open with everyone and therefore share all my cards to anyone who breathes, I have been duped all along into believing this sentiment was mutually being practiced by far more than who actually reciprocated that level of transparency. Ouch. Admittedly, after years of being the pursuer, I’m wanting to be, and working on being, pursued. Though it’s hard, I guess I’m learning that timeless lesson, “You teach people how to treat you.” People are rightfully used to me being the pursuer; that’s what I’ve always done and enjoyed, after all. Well, not anymore. I’m sure I’ll increase my pursuit with time (never to the extent I did before), but during this time of transition, I’m not setting myself up for failure. I don’t want to go back to bad habits, and they do die hard. In the meantime, I’m learning the few people who do regularly contact me, without me always having to contact them first, are the ones who deserve my attention the most. My love and appreciation for said individuals has only grown and matured.
- I spend time with Jesus a lot more. Since my phone hasn’t been occupying my time as much, I have had much more time to devote to the Lover of my Soul, Jesus Christ, during this season. Not surprisingly, He hasn’t changed. He has waited patiently for me to climb up into His lap, tell Him my troubles, and let Him slowly heal me to the core. I listen to sermons a lot more, in particular those on relationships and how most people function with each other (I’m realizing I really am rather strange). I review almost daily how the Lord ministered to (and very much loved) the masses, yet was obviously closer to the 12 disciples and even closer to the “inner circle” of 3. I am encouraged by the fact that, if Jesus didn’t feel guilty for not giving Himself fully to every single person, I don’t have to feel guilty either. I journal prayers and talk much more to the One who knows me better than I know myself. I love you, Jesus. Thank you for never giving up on, and believing in, me.
- I’m choosing to be more guarded with most, yes, but also refusing to become someone I’m just not, i.e. cynical and cold. Though I wish it were possible to healthily give so deeply of yourself to as many people as I’d like without hurting yourself, I’m learning it just isn’t. No amount of sincerity can change that fact. On the other hand, becoming bitter and cynical isn’t an option for me. Sure, I have my moments when I think about some past relationships and realize it wasn’t really the way I perceived it and feel hurt. There’s even past relationships that, now when I think about them, make me feel extremely burnt. That’s when, though, I find myself having the most compassion, even for the people who caused me the most hurt. I find myself praying for them and their families. I find myself genuinely wishing them nothing but God’s best. I told you before, I’m not very good (at all) at holding a grudge. I refuse to stop loving people. Doing so, would just deny a very large part of who I am — a very outwardly giving, caring person who loves very deeply very easily. I’m just learning I deserve to be loved, too, and that starts with me properly loving myself through putting up relational boundaries.
- I’ve realized that, for years, I haphazardly left so many more very personal pieces of me with a much larger population than whom has left valuable pieces of themselves with me. In a way, because of my carelessness, I’m left feeling like a prostitute who has given away her body far too many times. I wasn’t just cordial with the masses. I didn’t just “kiss” all of these people. I emotionally went to bed with humanity, exposing all my “goods” for the whole world to see. I’m now dealing with the consequences of my emotional promiscuity. I honestly still don’t really know what to do with that fact but face it and move on; what else can you do?
Yes, as my good friends (a girl can dream, right? ;)) Rascal Flatts would say, I’m movin’ on…