Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I think About--Letting Go (advice appreciated!)

I’ve become monster and I hate it.  I am angry, hateful, and spiteful (I'd include a photo here but really, it's not pretty).  That is not me.  The root of all this is a very unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship.  In fact there is a person who watches this blog not because she wants to be a part of a loving community or values my thoughts but because she is  “checking up” on me.  This letter is directed toward that person.  I’m sorry to use this public venue for such a private conversation but all other attempts of communication have failed.  I’m desperate.

I ask that in all this, you will pray for this woman to fully accept the love of Christ and to find her security, esteem and value in Him alone.  And I beg that you would pray for me. Specifically pray that I would continue to be loving and compassionate even to this person who hates me.  Please pray that I would release my anger to God and be only who He wants me to be and trust that He will work in and through me—even in this yucky situation.  Please pray that God will redeem this relationship.

Dear You Know Who You Are,
I don’t even know enough about you to know if you liked Friends but there was an episode where everyone is slowly finding out about Monica and Chandler.  Rachel and Phoebe mess with them and keep saying, “they don’t know we know they know we know” (if you need comedic relief—especially after reading this--click here).  Anyhow, you’ve been “watching” this blog silently for months.  You don’t know I know that you know about this blog.  But I do.

I do not deny that I have hurt you in the past.  I’ve gossiped about you and thought bad things about you.  I’ve enabled your bad behavior and have not held you to high standards.  I’ve apologized.  I’ve tried to include you in special events and outings.  I’ve called, sent notes, sent e-mails, sent gifts, texted, and invited you to my private family blog.   You do not talk to me.  You have gone out of your way to intentionally hurt and ignore my family and me.  You’ve accused me of seeking to harm you and isolating you but you have taken no responsibility for your actions.  This relationship is dysfunctional and emotionally abusive. 

What I have to say today is: ENOUGH.

Since January, though arguably for the last ten years, I’ve been trying to find the Biblical balance between forgiving you “70x7” and guarding my heart.  How many times am I supposed to forgive someone who doesn’t seek forgiveness or change?  How many times must I turn the other cheek?  At what point does placating your actions hurt you more than me?  This is a sticky slope.  What I’ve come to realize is that forgiveness frees me. 

Please forgive me.

I forgive you. 

Though I love you for who you are and where you are, I love you too much to let you continue down this destructive path.  Like a woman who leaves an alcoholic and abusive husband until he is sober and has demonstrated change, I am leaving this relationship until you are able to show “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).

I am making a choice to respond—not react—to you.  You may choose to not deal with your issues but I will not continue to expose my children or myself to the wake of chaos that follows your lack of self-control. 

I am building a boundary.  This building is not a wall but a fence.  The gate is open for you to come through when you chose. 

Of course my great fear, perhaps the greatest fear of anyone who has been in this position is that you will never walk through the gate--that we will never have a relationship--that I won’t know your children and you won’t know mine.  Scary as this thought is, I must lean on this quotation, “Sometimes, the hard truth is that they will not talk to you anymore, or they will leave the relationship if they can no longer control you.  This is a true risk.  God takes this risk every day.  He says that he will only do things the right way and that he will not participate in evil.  And when people choose their own ways, he lets them go.  Sometimes we have to do the same.”

Without malice, without ill-intent you must know that I am letting you go.  You are free of your imaginary competition between us.  You are free of any social obligations to my family or to me.  You are free of having to pretend for my sake--for anyone's sake.  You are free to find who you are and how you fit into the world without comparing yourself to me.  You are free of any burdens or expectations put on you by me.  When it comes to my family and me, you are free!

But know this, I love you.  I desire a loving and healthy relationship with you.  I want you in my life.  I want you to be a member of my blog community.  I am crying as I write this.  When you are ready, if you are ever ready, I am here.  Henceforth the fence will be up but the gate will always be open.

70x7—but with boundaries,
Reagan

What I think about relationships is that they need boundaries. How do you balance guarding your heart with the need to forgive?  Am I right in distancing myself from this relationship?

Advice ladies, advice.

21 comments:

  1. Wow, such a powerful letter!

    I've talked to one of my pastors about this- b/c there is someone in my life who would cause havoc and chaos for me and my kids if I let him back into my life....but I'm supposed to forgive? And I was told that forgiving can be a letting go, it's doesn't have to be letting that person be a part of your life. You can forgive and then move on without them.

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  2. @Shell--Thanks for your thoughts. I'm with you. I think I can forgive much more easily if I take myself out of the range of attack of this person. I guess I came to the point where I was starting to harbor unforgiveness toward this person for how she emotionally and verbally abuses me and my family. What I'm learning is I can't inspire her to STOP doing these things. Only she can control her actions. I, however, can choose what I allow to happen to me and my kids. Right now I choose to say--I love you. I forgive you. Goodbye.

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  3. Yes it sounds like you are doing the right thing to me. I don't know the whole situation but from what you wrote I think so. Just remember forgiveness does not mean you have to trust right away. If it is meant to be than the person will come back if not than it wasn't.

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  4. @AmberRay--Thanks for sharing. I obviously agree. The Luke 3:8 verse has really set me free. I am called to forgive but I AM NOT called to constantly put myself into harm's way if the person is unwilling to change and unrepentant!

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  5. I know that you have been struggling with this issue for a very long time and I hope that this brings you some peace. Not only for your heart, but for your family, as well. You have done what is necessary. You have confessed your sins, asked for forgiveness and extended the olive branch. I pray for everyone involved, that this person can find it in them to reach out and grab it. However, it has been my experience, that some people are just too prideful to do the work on themselves (it is MUCH easier to blame others for their short-comings.) I hope that this is not the case for you. If so, you can take solice in the fact that you did what was needed to take the first step in repairing this "dysfuntion" and you can sleep at night. I am so proud of you for getting this off of your chest...in the most healthy form possible. You are an amazing woman, RJ, and if people can't see that, then they are certainly NOT worthy of you and all you have to offer.

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  6. So sorry you are having to deal with this. It is always heartbreaking. I have a mantra that I use for this and I repeat it over and over again until I believe it. "Bless and release" say it with me "Bless and release" another favorite is "Let go and let god" Sometimes I have to chant these, but eventually it gets through and I'm released from hurtful burdens. Praying that your burden is lighter, you are a beautiful light in this world--please don't let anyone take that away.... ((hugs)))

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  7. @Randean--You might be biased but thanks. You always "get" me and know my heart!

    @Deb--Bless and Release, Bless and Release. Thanks!

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  8. I think that you are doing the right thing. I went through a similar situation with my dad and know how hard it is, but you have to stand up for yourself and your family. I pray that in time God will heal these wounds and you will be able to start fresh. I also pray that she really hears you. I think now is the time to leave it in God's hands, he will take care of this in His time. You are an amazing wife, mother and friend and for now that's what you need to focus on. I know that it can be hard, but to truly be free of this you have to forgive her and yourself. Enjoy life and trust in the Lord. I'm here for you :-)

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  9. @Sarah--I know you understand this situation all to well. I appreciate your continued love, prayers, and support!

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  10. Girl, you got it! Your words are full of wisdom & placing these boundaries for yourself & your family is smart!
    It sounds like you have done all you can do in this situation & I think if you feel it is time to distance yourself then you should follow that hunch. The above letter is a beautiful blessing for this person & it sounds like this person may need to be away from you guys too in order to figure some of their own junk out. It sounds like you deeply care for this person, so I pray for your healing & that you can truly let go of this relationship (at least for now) until God is ready for it to be restored in a healthy way that is life-giving for both parties involved.
    I affirm you in making this decision. Just from the little bit I know of you (although I feel like i know you pretty well)...Be strong, friend & don't fall prey to any sort of guilt. You aren't doing anything wrong by protecting yourself & your family from further & unneeded pain...therefore you have nothing to feel guilty for. (not that you are yet, but I know Satan preys on women through guilt & fear).

    It sucks when life throws us situations like this. Hang in there!

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  11. Reagan - What a powerful letter and what a relief it must be to just put it down on "paper." I think we all struggle with letting go - particularly if you want the relationship to work - I know this is a personal struggle for me; perhaps we can all find some release by just putting our feelings down somewhere even if the person will likely never see it (or maybe they will in this case). Your message is a powerful one and your writing is inspiring.

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  12. @Tania--Thanks for your comment. This has been tough for many reasons.

    1. I hate feel like I'm giving up. I'm not a quitter by nature.
    2. I do actually want a relationship with this person so it is hard to reconcile that desire with the need to end the relationship. Is this what parents feel like with "tough love"?
    3. I know this letter and the ending of a relationship will only further add fuel to this woman's art of "victimization." From here on out she'll be able to say, "well, she wants nothing to do with me" despite my many attempts to prove otherwise. I'm afraid she'll see this as emotional blackmail or something.

    All I can do though is know my own heart and my own intentions which are:
    1. To set healthy boundaries that let this person know that I have standards for how I will be treated.
    2. Let it be known for all the world that SHE IS WELCOME IN MY LIFE and her presence in my life is STRONGLY DESIRED but not in the current way of her saying and doing whatever she wants without consequence.

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  13. Reagan,

    You are, in NO way, emotionally blackmailing this person. You are setting healthy boundaries to a very unhealthy situation. By this letter, you are letting them know that you no longer are chosing to be the victim, instead, you are chosing to be the VICTOR. A concept, that hopefully, they will learn, too. I admire you for taking care of yourself, and above all, your precious children. They have nothing to gain from such toxcitity. You are showing them (Pax and ME) to love (unconditionally) but not at the expense of their values. (Right now, mom's "tough love" speeches are racing in my head). That is what you are giving...tough love. (Now, who would have thought that you would have to do this with someone other than your children)?

    Hang in there. You ABSOLUTELY have done the right thing. And don't ever think that you are trying to "blackmail" anyone.

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  14. PS: You are not giving up anything, except chaos. You are allowing them to be in your lives, and wanting them to be in your lives. But, they have conditions. Whether they chose to live by these conditions, is up to them. It is kind of like telling an alcoholic that you love them, but you are not going to enable them to drink but, instead, will help them deal with sobriety. ILY

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  15. @Shelly--Thank you for your kind words and affirmations. I appreciate you saying, "until God is ready for the relationship to be restored." I'm so glad it's in HIS hands and not mine :)

    And I will heed your advice about guilt--guilt is of Satan, Conviction is from the Lord!

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  16. @Randean--amazingly insightful, as always. Where would I be without you?

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  17. Late reading again (sorry!) but I think you absolutely did the right thing here. I have been struggling with the same thing with my brother-in-law. I've allowed terrible things to go on around me and my family in order not to push my sister away.

    I began praying hard about the situation.

    God spoke to heart and I realized that I was holding in too much anger towards him....and I had to let that go.

    I also realized at the same moment that I could no longer tolerate such things because it was causing harm,not only to me, but to my kids. I SHOULDN'T subject my family to this.

    We have the God given authority to say No More to destructive things or people in our lives. What's so great about this is that we CAN say "I forgive you" and mean it, but still protect ourselves by keeping our distance.

    You did an amazing thing by confessing and repenting of your sins, not only to God, but to whom this is addressed. You did what you could with actions, but now letting it go and praying for them is the best thing to do.

    This was very touching to read, perhaps because I've been struggling with the same type situation, but thanks for sharing your heart! ;)

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  18. I think it is really healthy to set boundaries. You haven't closed any doors... you have just set expectations. It really is something that you should always have for yourself and especially around your family. It isn't isn't to set limitations, especially when you know they might not be met, but hopefully they will be, and I pray that they are met.

    It is hard when there are people that you love that don't want to meet you halfway.

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  19. @Amy--better late than never! Somehow I knew you'd understand. I'm loving the concept that we can say NO but still forgive. I'm glad this post helped your heart, too!

    @Jessica--It is hard. Thanks for your support!

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  20. Oh girl.. I am sorry for what's happening - whatever it is.

    I had my best friend totally disown me a few years ago for complete nonsense, and she did it via email, and never would respond to me again. I felt so sick... how could she think those things about me? Didn't she know me at all? Time went on, I forgave though we never really talked after that. We formed a 'fake' friendship via facebook about a year later, which ended in the same way as the first time. She sent me a very ugly message, "unfriending" me... i still honestly don't understand her reasoning. She's not mentally stable - and I'm very thankful to have friends affirm this to me. I say that, to say this to you - sometimes people just think what they WANT to think. They believe what makes the most sense in their alternate reality.. it helps them cope with their own CHAOTIC lives. It sucks to be on the receiving end of it, and be unable to fix it...

    I have no words of wisdom. She continues to upset me via mutual friends... I'm in the middle of it still. I lose sleep over it.. I don't believe in having unsettled issues with someone, but this person, I'm powerless. She won't talk to me like an adult.. only send one-sided emails. She hides behind the comfort of her computer. It is the MOST HURTFUL experience of my life.

    Again, no words of wisdom, only understanding of how you feel. Your words here could have easily been mine.

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  21. @Mandy--sometimes it is good to know that I'm not alone here--that others are struggling with the same kind of hurt. Thanks for sharing. Solidarity, sister!

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