Staying In Relationships Past The Expiration Date
While washing the dishes today, I came upon a Cuisinart knife I just purchased from Target as part of moving in to my new space. A few of my friends are chefs, and they've told me that the most important tool set you can have in the kitchen is a good set of knives — or even just one really fantastic one.
Years ago, I really started to understand what these chefs meant, especially after moving in with my ex-boyfriend. He had a beautiful set of stainless steel knives that made cooking even more enjoyable. Each slice was impeccably precise, each chop effortless. As our relationship was coming to a close, I recall thinking, If we break up, then I'm not going to be able to use these knives anymore.
But, knives? Really?!
In retrospect, it's amazing what can nudge us to stay in relationships longer than we need to be in them. In college, I prolonged an unhealthy situation because of we'd made plans with our friends and I was too embarrassed to cancel them. Later, I stayed in another relationship because we'd signed up for a credit card together and shared a cell phone plan; I was reluctant to deal with the hassles it would take to untangle these financial ties.
And, most recently, it was over pieces of stainless steel.
These things, these connections, and even the misunderstandings of yogic principles I had been learning about compassion and forgiveness kept me in relationships much longer than I needed to be in them. Looking back, I wonder how I could've stayed in situations so long over things that were just trifling headaches to deal with versus the cracking of my heart when my partner would yell at me during arguments, saying things like, I don't care about half the things you talk about.
I'm not a relationship expert. I was once told, "Every relationship you get in will be the wrong one until you meet the right one." Even though my previous experiences have "failed," I've learned a lot about myself and what I'd like a healthy partnership to look like, so in a way, perhaps they were still a success.
Often, when I teach yoga, I tell students that it's just as important to learn about the things we don't want, as learning about the things we do. And, after conversations with girlfriends, I know that I'm not alone in having made rationalizations to hold one to things that are meant to be let go of.
It makes sense, because we're our hearts become attached and we're sometimes loathe to change, as things that are uncomfortable or unhealthy are at least more familiar than the unknown. But, with hindsight, great clarity often comes. It's just a matter of taking that first step forward.
People come into our lives for a reason or a season, sometimes a lifetime. It's up to us to be discerning to know who to welcome in with open arms, how long they're meant to share our space, and when to ask them to leave, shutting the door behind certain people and perhaps even locking it — twice.
Even if I had to let a set of knives go, amongst many other big and small things in my previous relationship, it took me some months to remember that I always have power in my own two hands. Like taking my own money and buying one big momma of a knife I really like.
Now, every time I use MY knife to cut anything, I feel stronger with each slice.
What about you: Are you holding onto something that's keep you in a relationship or situation longer than you need to be in it?