Understanding Does Not Equal Acceptance
How do we know when it's the right time to walk away from a relationship? Any type of personal relationship can be hard work, and as I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, when someone seems to be giving you more problems than joy then it’s better to cut them out of your circle. This is easier said than done of course, and I’m the type of person who always wants to keep trying to fix issues in my personal relationships. After many fights with family, boyfriends, friends, etc., I think I’ve been comfortable with the mindset of “I understand you are this way but that does not mean that I have to accept it.”
Without giving too much away of my personal issues, I will say that I’ve been in relationships with multiple people who seem to have anger problems. Some of them were sparked by alcohol abuse, some by poor anger management, others by insecurities and who knows what other underlying causes the others had. It was weird because with the guy who had alcohol issues, I knew he had a problem for years before I decided to cut him off. The reason I didn’t think it was such a big deal was because he wasn’t your typical alcoholic we see in movies where they just sit around on the couch all day, cursing, yelling at everything and just wasting their lives away. This guy was a full functioning alcohol abuser (I think alcoholic is too strong of a word here). When we would have our fights-which were mostly over the phone- I would have to ask him mid fight if he had been drinking. When he would tell me that he had been, I’d immediately disregard our entire argument. I felt like “ohhhhh, he’s drunk, that’s why he’s not making any sense, lets just pick it back up when he’s sober” and we would do that.
Another person in my life who had anger management issues literally would snap over the tiniest things. But there I go again not thinking it was a serious issue because he wasn’t your textbook angry man who physically abused people or was angry all of the time. He was someone who was in a good mood for the most part until you would say something or do something that would make him snap. I get it, we all get triggered by something on occasion, but this kind of anger over little things was not normal. I had begged them to go see a therapist for a while because I genuinely didn’t think that his anger towards something as simple as someone canceling a meeting was normal. I knew it had to be a deeper issue that only a therapist could help him realize. But it was one of those things where you can’t force someone to get help because in order for it to work they have to want the help themselves.
I can go on and on about the people who have been in my life with one kind of problem or another, but I’ll spare you the details and just go to the part where I learned to walk away.
Just like with the people I mentioned above, it took me a while to realize why they would behave a certain way. I had to pay close attention to what would trigger them, to what I would maybe do to ignite that fire, what were there over all struggles that may be contributing to their outbursts / dysfunctions. Eventually when I learned what there problems were, I stuck around because I thought “who am I to change these people when they don’t even want to change”. I’ve seen that in women especially, we love to give people chances. This comes from us having so much hope that people can truly be their best selves. And although I do believe that, I also believe that putting our own happiness first is more important than trying to fix someone else’s problems.
When I heard (I can’t remember if it was from a movie or from a conversation I overheard) the phrase “I understand why they are like this but I just can’t accept it” my whole mindset changed. Just because I understand - finally- why those people would behave a certain way, I knew that it didn’t mean I had to stick around for it. I’d give them warnings about how in order to have healthy relationships with anyone including themselves that they would have to get some sort of help. But again, you can tell someone that all you want but they won’t change unless they truly want to change themselves. So, I had to detach myself from those people. I had to put myself first and what gave me comfort knowing I was doing the right thing is knowing that I didn’t just give up. I took the time to study these people. I took my time learning and researching what could help them or what could maybe happen to avoid their behaviors to happen. I knew that I had done my part to help someone else, but at the end of the day this is my life and I’m the only one responsible for my own happiness. I’m proud of myself for still learning and understanding what makes everyone unique, but I’m also proud that if there’s something I don’t like about another person, its my right to not have to accept it and just walk away.