Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Truth of an Ending

Relationships are complex. I realize large doses of energy are spent considering relationship of some form - with myself - with others - with God. I woke up this morning with these words running through my mind - It is in relationship that we are broken and in relationship we are healed.

There's a theme of abandonment that runs through my personal narrative... So, much of the time I feel as though ended relationships are a failure on my part. If only I'd done something different, perhaps the relationship would have survived. If only I'd been a better friend, mother, daughter, fill-in-the blank, maybe they wouldn't have left. Sound familiar?

And then there are those relationships where I know I was the one who threw down the gauntlet and said, "This isn't working. Something needs to change" and the other party chose not to engage, and the relationship ended. So then what? Who has failed? Perhaps no one. Maybe everyone.

As I awoke this morning, I was greeted with these words, "magically" appearing in the form of "Today's Gift":

"Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can't build on it: it's only good for wallowing in." - Katherine Mansfield

"Sentences beginning with "if only" can go nowhere but straight to regret... At times it's we, ourselves, who do the leaving. We can count it a success, not a failure, when we've had the courage to acknowledge the truth of an ending." -- Joan Larkin

That last sentence is slowly creating a shift in my perspective. Can I claim the bravery in seeing 'the truth of an ending'- the wisdom of letting go - the necessity of saying good-bye?

Are there places where you hang onto regret and find yourself wallowing in "if only's"? Would your perspective change if you saw the ending of a defunct relationship as a success rather than a failure? Can you listen to the truth that lies within your own heart - remembering there are three kinds of relationship - with God - with others - and with yourself?

Will you ponder alongside me?

"friends" photo © lucy

17 comments:

Maureen said...

That last sentence in Larkin's quote is the best I've read all day. Thank you.

Tess said...

I have to tell you that when I wake up in the morning, the words running through my mind are usually more along the lines of what shall I have for breakfast. You are obviously more spiritually inclined than I! ;-)

Now on to business:

"We cannot sit around hoping for a better past."

This was the last line in a comment left by a new reader of my blog, Mark, to my most recent post.

I thought it was really quite stunning. And what you say seems to me another angle on it. I like the Larkin quote, and I would add to it that we can count it a success when we've had the courage to try.

Kel said...

tess, i'm with you :-)))

endings are often full of regret and you're right Lucy, a lot of energy often goes into playing the blame game, whose fault, what if, if only . . .

acknowledging the truth of it is also the hard part, especially if it is to own the truth that it was me at fault

so much to ponder here

Sue said...

LOL @ Tess :)

I still find it hard to take that approach with the demise of my marriage. I guess because it was me unhappy, me who left, me who lacked the vision to believe that things would change and that the problem was actually really with me rather than with him (even though ultimately I do not think in a perfect world he was someone I should have married anyway - hell, I don't think I should marry anyone ;)

So yes, this is a challenge to me and I love that comment by Mark on Tess's blog. Goodness me, when you put it like that ...

lucy said...

maureen - that's saying alot, since i know how much you read each day!! thx

tess - mark's quote is indeed excellent. however... when i think of current relationships, it's more about how to be in the now rather than grieving over the past. i.e. what comes next... maybe there is no next... maybe it's just THE END>

kel - pondering with you!!


oh susie - please don't beat yourself up. it takes TWO to make a relationship!!!

love to all!!

Country Parson said...

I imagine that regrets haunt each of us to one degree or another. I certainly have mine. I suppose the problem comes when they begin to take over our lives, prevent us from living fully into the present and darken our anticipation of the future. Paul famously said, "Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead..." I doubt that he ever forgot, it's just that his past had been redeemed by God's grace and that allowed him to no longer be burdened by it.

Sorry for rambling on, but you so seldom het male voices among your comments.

Karen said...

I read an article (somewhere--can't remember what or when) about a woman who suffered an injury and completely lost all her past memories--and ended up feeling enormously freed by that. And so, I've been doing a lot of thinking about that--how much time am I staying in the past? Thinking about things I wished I'd said or done? Wishing things had gone differently. Wishing I'd savored more, loved more, released more. And also--the impact of the past on my present relationships. Remembering the hurts, the wrongs done on all sides.

Yes, I sometimes think about the good in the past--but mostly, overwhelmingly, I think about the pain of the past.

And so I keep thinking about that woman--what would it be like? To wake up and not have any past history? To begin again with each person and situation in my life, right now, right where we are.

I don't want an injury, but I would like to learn to wake up each morning and immediately make the decision to be go on with the day born anew--to stop carrying the heavy load that IS the past.

Just thinking about it makes me feel like I'm leaving a swamp and stepping onto firm ground...

claire said...

I wonder whether one does not let oneself down if one does not end a relationship that is half-hearted, dysfunctional, not working, wounding, whatever.

Aren't we responsible to ourselves first?

In an airplane, in case of accident, you're to take the oxygen mask first, and then take care of those around you.

Guilt, something I know too well, is my way of regularly discounting myself. I learned this at my mother's knee -- literally.

Is this pondering alongside you or am I way off base?

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Excellent post. Yes, I'm pondering this but not really wrestling with it as I believe it to be true. The "if only's" are fruitless, the should've, could've lead nowhere but to angst. I'm pondering and continuing to move ahead into the GREAT unknown of "can be" "should be" "will be" future:)

xoxo

claire said...

Hi, again, luci,

Just found this in a piece by James Martin, SJ. Thought it fits with your post --

Feelings of incompletion may reflect dissatisfaction with our daily lives and point us to something that needs to be rectified. If we are trapped in a miserable job, a dead-end relationship, or an unhealthy family situation, it might be time to think about serious change. Dissatisfaction doesn't have to be stoically endured: it can lead to a decision, change, and a more fulfilled life.

Blessings.

lucy said...

CP - thanks for adding your male voice here. i know there are more than a few male readers here, but they seem to fall into the category of lurkers. wonder what's up with that? ;)

lucy said...

karen - i've been fascinated the last couple of days by the article portion you shared. yes, what would it be like to awaken each day anew. it's really a thrilling prospect, if only we could do it without the brain damage, huh? i'll be pondering this more for sure!!

lucy said...

claire - your response was probably the most in sync with where i land. what i've realized over the last few days as i've read responses here, is that in relationships that i knew needed to end (however painful) - i can somehow reconcile with that. i have a couple, however, that fall into the category of unknown territory with friends moving on without explanation - e.g. a friend of many years going "poof". grief probably describes this situation best - although i'm going to ponder your recent words on "dissatisfaction". oh there's always something isn't there?

thanks for hanging in there with me.

lucy said...

SS - yes yes yes!! "can be" "should be" "will be" NOW :) xxoxoxo

Leslie @ crunchybetty.com said...

Thank you so much for this post. It came at a very significant time for me, as I just "broke up" with the friend I've been closest to for a year. For two weeks, I've been wallowing in the "if onlies," and this morning I woke up with the realization that it was what it was, and sometimes it was good, but it was making me upset 80% of the time. And it was time to end. Sometimes you grow with people, and sometimes you grow more effectively without them. But either way, you're changed because of them, and with the right perspective, it's always for the better.

Sue said...

I would love to hear more male voices commenting on this wonderful blog.

lucy said...

leslie - i'm so glad this post "came at the right time" for you. you speak very wise words, especially re: being changed by those we come in contact with. it's inevitable and so much more helpful for me to view it as a whole rather than individual snippets here and there.