Years ago, I gave my mom a plaque which read, “Everyone brings joy here. Some when they enter and others when they leave.” It was gifted to her in good fun, but we all know someone who brings joy to a room simply by leaving it. Perhaps we should make it a life goal to avoid being that person. ~smile~
As much as I want to be welcomed everywhere I go, sometimes I need to stay away from certain people and situations. This was never truer than during my dramatic teen years. Sometimes I cringe when I remember teenage Heather!
Heather, You Cannot Be the One to Comfort Them
At the end of my romantic relationships, I did not typically exercise good judgment – or kindness. The kind behavior would have been to break off the relationship and stay away from the person for a while. What did I do? I answered their phone calls, agreed to have long talks, and sent mixed signals until we were basically back where we started.
This was a distinct pattern in my life and one which concerned my friends. In fact, my friend’s mom got involved and told me that I could not be the person my exes run to for comfort. In matters of the heart, if I am the one causing the wound, I cannot be the one who attempts to heal it. She was right, and I knew it – but, as was typical of me, I did not heed her words.
The best way I could have blessed these ex-boyfriends is by leaving – exiting their lives and letting them move on without having to deal with me.
When the Shoe is on the Other Foot
If I could have seen a glimpse into the future, or listened to the adults in my life who knew how this charade was going to turn out, I would have made my decision firmly. I would have ended the relationships as gently as possible, and then put space between us. Even if my heart ached and I desperately wanted to talk to them (as I often did – breaking up is not fun for anyone), I would have withstood the temptation.
Being on the receiving end of an ex-boyfriend who would not go away is all the proof I will ever need that ex-couples need to give each other space; it is better for everyone involved. Once, I had a guy break up with me over the phone and then have the audacity to say, “Don’t tell anyone we broke up because if I want to get back together with you, I don’t want people to be skeptical.” Even now, the overconfidence amazes me! We never did get back together, but when I would feel my heart begin to heal, guess who would pop out in front of me? Guess who would try to be my buddy? Guess who would call me in the middle of the night, just to talk – often about girlfriend problems? He kept himself in my life, sometimes guilting me when I showed interest in other guys, just enough to rob me of my closure. Still, I had a choice to allow it, and I did. It was a hard lesson learned.
Sometimes, You Just Need to Go Away
If you are about to break up with someone, or you just did, perhaps the greatest way you could bless your ex is to let him or her go completely. I am the queen of breaking up with someone 90% and am here to tell you, it does not work. It just makes the eventual, inevitable breakup much messier. When you make the decision to end your relationship, approach the situation with humble confidence. You can even tell him or her that you are going to stay away because you do not want to make it harder.
During one of my particularly ridiculous half-hearted breakups, Mom said, “Heather, he might hate you someday.” That was an unsettling comment, but she had a point. We cannot break up and get back together with someone but so many times before seeds of resentment, anger, and hatred begins to spout. People have fracturable emotions, and it is easy to wound a vulnerable heart.
Moral of the story: I wish I had broken up with my exes cleanly and given them the space they needed. Having experienced my heart being ripped open repeatedly, you would think I would have been more considerate. It is hard to admit when someone needs you to leave him the heck alone, but sometimes it happens.
If you are in this season now and struggling with how to handle your post-break up relationship, I hope you will consider backing away and allowing space. The day may come when you can co-exist and be cordial to each other, but that day cannot be rushed. Until you have both healed and moved on, consider your absence to be a gift.
Have you ever experienced a half-hearted breakup?