Do your relationships feel like restoration projects?
I realise this is a tricky and emotional topic that no one really talks openly about for good reasons and many struggle with it in silence. While this is not for couples who are deeply and mutually connected in a fulfilling joint purpose, I would like to offer an alternative perspective to anyone who is struggling right now with choosing between their life’s calling, and remaining as a support to a partner they are no longer in love with but feel as if they won’t survive without you. How many of us have experienced this at some point in our lives? How many of us get stuck in and repeat the cycle?
To make the very best decision for ourselves, it’s often a good idea to arm one’s self with self-knowledge and reflect through a series of questions to get at the root and truly understand whether our decision is best for us and for the person we love. So I would like to offer a few questions I have used in self-reflection in case it helps you decide:
- Who am I to believe that my partner really can’t live without me? Does the whole world revolve around me and require me personally, to keep it turning? Am I so self-sacrificing that I have forgotten to notice that I might have very selfish views about this?
- Am I really The One that is supposed to save them? Over everyone else in the entire world? Even over themselves? And if I am truly the Only One – if that is true, then how come I don’t feel the same way about them? Wouldn’t it be mutual if it were true?
- Do I need this person to believe I am The One to prop up my self-esteem, no matter the cost, even though deep down we know its a lie?
- If I keep jumping in and rescuing partners, am I possibly stealing from them the opportunity to grow, to reflect, to discover themselves, to make positive changes in their own lives that will actually stick when I’m not around anymore because they applied those changes themselves?
- If I keep rescuing, am I blocking them from the chance of meeting others who can support them as a community, or those with a happier disposition about it? Would that be healthier for them and for me in the long run?
- Is my self-worth wrapped up in saving partners, and is my self-esteem so low that I have forgotten I am so much more than being another person’s actual crutch for the rest of my days? Am I willing right now, to make that sacrifice, knowing what it ultimately amounts to? Will this person I care about ever amount to anything more than they are right now if I continue to enable or support them? Is the sum of my worth, or the fruits of my life’s labour going to entirely depend on what this other person becomes with my help?
- What if I am preventing this person I deeply care about but no longer feel enthusiastic about being with, from meeting and being in love with someone who is CRAZY about them? Don’t they deserve that? Don’t I? Am I going to decide for them that they are better off with my love? That my love is the best! Even on the days I struggle even to muster up a grain of it?
Are you stuck in a relationship that feels like a never ending restoration project?
- How is the guilt of my sacrifice consciously or subconsciously affecting their happiness, mental health and self-worth? Is it burdening and worsening their recovery? Is that really fair on them, even if they think they want it?
- What am I holding myself away from by choosing this? How can I picture my life and dreams if I had never met this person or taken on this self-sacrificing project? Am I afraid of taking the jump and using my partner as an excuse to not go for my dreams in case I fail? How much is my life supposed to be blossoming right now, how is it showing me it wants to take off in magical new directions if I wasn’t so stubbornly blocking it with this excuse?
- Is there a way I can support this very beloved person as a true friend instead of as a live-in lover or live-in maid service? Will my advice and actions hold more sway as a friend instead of as the partner who is taken for granted “should” do everything under the sun to support them?
- If I decide to stay or even leave, what friends and family members and community members can I call on for help and support so that the burden is more fairly shared or even lifted?
- Should I continue to be their therapist or should they be calling on a professional for help? How do I feel about being their therapist? Is it rewarding or draining? And if its rewarding, why is it rewarding?
- Am I staying because I am afraid of being alone?
This is a lot of stuff to chew on and may feel unsettling or relieving depending on where you are at. My hope is that these questions and the ones you come up with yourself help you to make the best out of this really tough situation and possibly prevent a repeat in other relationships and even friendships down the line. Your life does not have to be the sum total of every human restoration project you’ve been involved in so far. I promise you were meant to be so much more, starting with your own restoration to become the truly magnificent being you were born to be. While it may feel like a daunting task, its WAY harder to restore someone else, and in my experience it never fully works. It really doesn’t matter what age you start your new life, just that you get a chance to begin.
May you be happy and peaceful. May you and all beings be free.