July 21, 2010

New Look, New Perspective

I recently updated my profile picture, and now have changed the look of my blog. Thanks to Blogger for some nice new template designs, I have have a fresh look for this new season in my life.

There is something about changing your appearance, something wonderful that seems to happen whenever you do it. For me, changing anything seems to give me a boost of confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and that "can do" attitude that often I need to help me stay on task and finish up a difficult assignment.

I like to rearrange my furniture or paint my room a different color. Even small changes such as a new comforter for my bed or throw pillows on the sofa -- will perk me up, and say to me: "Now, doesn't that look so much better?" The same thing happens with a new haircut or outfit -- you just feel alive, feel fresh, feel as though everything is going your way.

In my life right now, a good pickme-up is a necessity. Whether it is a strong Passion Fruit/Ice Tea/Lemonade from Starbucks (have you had one of these yet? They are sooooo good!) or a good jolt of coffee (Einsteins is best, IMHO), I just need the extra oomph to push me through the long days and weeks of change. My life has gone upside down and wonky on me, and after nearly of year of struggle, I finally do see the end in sight. It is becoming more clear to me, more in focus, and I know that one of these next few days, I will arrive at the end of the journey and know "it is done."

At first, the thought of "being done" scared me. I had not been on my own for years, and even then lived with my parents. I was a sheltered little plant, carefully tended in my parents garden. I didn't have too many outrageous experiences, and by all accounts, I was NAIVE. I was, it is true...I was NAIVE about everything. This was how girls were raised back in the 1960's. I wasn't old enough to experience feminine liberation, and I had no older sisters who would have lived in the loose and free Age of Aquarius. Nope, I had brothers, and I was born in the early 60's so my growing up years were really in the late to early 1970s. It was different then -- very Brady Bunch and all. Not so much Leave it to Beaver, but very Mrs. Brady. That was how I saw my life, my school, my neighborhood. I really lived the Brady Bunch life, even though my parents were not a blended family (well, actually they were -- but before I was born).

As I grew up though, I simply progressed from little Cindy to Marcia. I grew up in a time when life was very good for most American middle class families. My schooling wasn't exceptional, but I had every opportunity to go on to college, and pursue whatever dreams I may have had back then. I did the very thing, went to college, and after some starts and stops, graduated with my B.A. in Humanities (classics). I am now enrolled in a M.A. program for English Literature, and hope to get my PhD in Communications (in 2-5 years). My life has followed a pretty steady and predictable course: go to college, work, get married, have a child, live a happy life. My unexpected turn was when I found out that my husband didn't want to remain in a relationship with me, and I had to come to terms with being separated and then divorced.

The past year has brought in new revelation, and a lot of understanding in the area of relationships. I am far better able to handle relationships, the good and the bad, now that I have been through the trenches a bit. I understand what it takes to make a relationship good, and what can happen when you are in a bad one or trying to form one with someone who has some issues with attachment or bonding. I have read several good books on the subject, been through intensive counseling, and spent a great deal of time in prayer. Through it all, I have discovered a lot about me, a lot about what I like and don't like, what I need and don't need, and what I am willing compromise to get, and what I will not do at any cost.

When it all came down the end, to the finish line, this was my "do not cross" mark:
  • Trust - all relationships are built on two critical needs: trust and respect. You cannot be in a healthy whole relationship if either is lacking. Therefore, I must trust the person I am relationship with, and through that trust, I will give respect.
  • Respect - the other side of the coin above. Respect is always earned, and it is best earned by people who do what they say they will do. Hypocrites need not apply when it comes to close bonding because flipping only engenders disrespect (from both sides - I don't respect you for changing positions; and you don't respect yourself for being incapable of staying true).

Trusting another person with your emotions is difficult, especially after you have experienced betrayal. It is very hard to forgive and forget or trust again. Often, we can forgive the person, but we simply cannot forget what they have done. We beat ourselves up on this point, but really it is not about forgetting what they have done (Who actually can do this? Only God -- and then He chooses to put it out of His mind); but rather, it is about allowing trust to enter into the relationship after it has been broken. You see, choosing to trust a person after a serious offense is really the BIG ELEPHANT in the room. If you cannot trust them to be honorable the next time, then you will not give them the respect they need to be an equal in the relationship.

How and if you decide to trust a person after such an event is the mark of two things: your willingness to do it (can you do it?) and the other person's willingness to demonstrate that they are trustworthy. Again, if you are in a healthy relationship, then this is rarely an issue; but in an unhealthy one, it most always follows this pattern:

  • Person A trusts Person B
  • Person B betrays Person A's trust
  • Person A forgives Person B after Person B apologises and promises not to do "said" thing again (whatever said thing is or was)
  • Person B goes on their merry way and doesn't actually do anything different about their behavior
  • Person B burns Person A again (and again and again)
  • Person A continues to forgive and restore Person B to a trust relationship

The pattern just continues with Person A always forgiving, but never getting anything back out of the relationship. This is the classic co-dependent relationship, whereby one person does all the giving and the other person does all the taking. In this type of relationship, which by all accounts is not a relationship at all, there is no trust nor respect between parties. Person A doesn't trust or respect Person B, and Person B has no trust or respect for Person A. It is a cycle that is actually abusive and detrimental to both parties. Person A is taken advantage and learns that people are: not trustworthy and are disrespectful to them. Person B believes that they deserve trust and respect and that these two things are not conditional on their attitudes or behaviors.

After experiencing both a lack of trust and disrespect, I decided to say "no more." I decided that at this stage of my life, I deserve both. In fact, in most healthy relationships, trust and respect flow naturally. Rarely do you have these issues come up -- they are simply part and parcel to any good friendship or loving relationship. It is only in those that go sideways, and for some people, the only kind of relationships they seem to find are the sideways kind.

Now as I look into my future, one thing is for certain: I clearly see my role in any relationship. If I want to be trusted and respected, then I have to act the part. I have to do what I say I will do. If this means being a good worker, then I am a good worker. If it means keeping a committment I make, then it means keeping a committment. It really is the old adage, "Your word is your bond," which simply means that if you say you are going to do something, then you better do it.

Dear Lord,

I have come to the end of my journey, and I realize my part in all the mistakes within my primary relationship with my husband. I take full blame where blame is due, and I take full credit where credit is due. It is a two-way road, and I didn't walk it alone. Now that I am ready to step back outside as a single person, I have made the committment to you that I will live honorably and walk in integrity. My word is my bond, so to speak, and by that I simply mean that if your Word tells me to do something, then I am bound to do it. I will keep your commands by your Grace, and I will do my best with your Grace, to live a life that is pleasing to you. I am trusting you for everything else. My role is to be your servant, and your role is to be my Master. May God be praised forever more, and may your Name be exalted on high. Only you are God, and only you can do what needs to be done now in my life. I ask in Jesus' Name that you do what must be done next, and that I would receive the Grace to handle it, and stay steady and follow after you. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!


Britt College Writer said...

I'm the writing intern for Stage of Life. I came across your blog today and wanted to let you know I really enjoyed it. It was the mention about the stages of life that caught my attention. I have just recently come to the realization that I need to be giving more trust in a difficult relationship I'm in and I appreciated what you had to say in this blog. I also like that you used the word "wonky." We're looking to feature writers and bloggers in particular stages of life. I think our readers would benefit from your perspective and wisdom.

Please reach out to me via our site or my blog http://willwritefortacos.blogspot.com/ if you're interested in contributing to our project and some additional exposure.

Take care,

Britt Saunders
Writing Intern

Carol Hepburn said...

Thanks, Britt. I will check out your blog.