How do you know when it's time to let go? A difficult question for anyone, I'm sure, but an especially difficult one for me. Though I've quit on myself, all too many times, it takes a lot for me to give up on somebody else. I constantly make excuses for the bad behavior of others, cutting them WAY more slack than I'd ever give myself, and allow people to treat me with disrespect and, at times, complete disregard. Why is is that even though I know I deserve better, I continue to allow others to make me feel "less than?"
I watched the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Friday and as was the case when I read the book several months ago, the quote that resonated with me more than any other was this, "We accept the love we think we deserve." Now, mind you, I have several people in my life who treat me with kindness, respect and genuine care and show me love beyond what I have ever felt worthy of. I am grateful beyond words for these people. However, there are others who I have placed my faith in and, as I discussed in my previous post, have chosen to retreat, for no apparent reason. Perhaps their initial intention was to be a person that mattered in my life and for me to be a person that mattered in theirs. Perhaps, despite their current behavior, that is STILL their intention. But, in the meantime, they are causing me tremendous pain and damaging me more than I can express. Maybe this is just how some people are, here today, gone tomorrow, maybe back again in six months, maybe never to return. Maybe I just never mattered to them at all. Maybe, despite their vow to embrace honesty and candor, when faced with a genuine connection, something more than a superficial relationship, they find themselves paralyzed by fear and left with what they perceive as no choice but to run for the hills.
I find it interesting when people do not, or cannot, practice what they preach. I find it even more interesting that even when I recognize this in others, I am still, more often than not, willing to give them chance after chance, wanting so badly to be appreciated, loved and respected, that I delude myself into seeing things that aren't there. But, then again, perhaps they ARE there and the other person just doesn't have the courage to face them. Herein lies my dilemma. When do I say when?
In my humble opinion, there is no more brave (or more crazy) thing a human being can do than expose themselves, emotionally, to another person. Whether it is with a family member or a lover, a friend they have known for ten minutes or ten years, when it comes to being vulnerable, the risk is enormous, the payoff, equally so, and the potential for devastation, huge and constantly looming. So why is it that we, that I, continue to take that chance? And why is the end result, so often, heartbreak?
Hypocrisy is something that I find VERY difficult to tolerate. If you commit to being honest with someone, that is not a temporary or conditional thing. Sure, everyone tells the occasional "white lie" but when it comes to the things that really matter, the care and protection of someone's heart and soul, there is no room for ANYTHING but the truth. People are precious, people who have placed their trust in you, even more so. It is NEVER okay to retreat, with no explanation, from the life of someone who cares about you. If you needs space, time to think, to breathe, just fucking say so. If you are afraid because things have suddenly gotten more "real" than you are ready to face, be honest about that, too. If you find, for whatever reason, that you need to take a step back, either temporarily or permanently, you HAVE to say so. It is never, EVER okay to simply ignore someone who has opened their heart to you. Sometimes, just the tiniest acknowledgment, even if it's just to say, "This is too much for me to deal with right now but that doesn't mean I don't care," can make a world of difference to someone. As devastating as it is to hear bad news, in the long run, it's always better to know the truth than to be disregarded. Nothing, NOTHING is worse than being ignored by someone you care about.
This brings me back to my original question. How do you know when it's time to let go? I guess if enough time passes and the person who once seemed to care about you refuses to acknowledge your existence or extend you the common courtesy they would show someone they have known for one hot minute, that is probably a good sign that it's time to let go. Despite how wonderful, special and validated someone has made you feel in the past, if they now make you feel like less than a piece of shit stuck to the bottom of their shoe, it is time to let go. No matter how many gifts they may have given you, however unintentional that may have been, if they now make you feel like less than nothing, it is time to let go.
I guess I answered my own question, didn't I? The truly tragic fact is that I do know WHEN to let go, I just don't know HOW. For someone as pessimistic as I am, I want, so badly, for this black cloud to have a silver lining. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I want to believe, with all my heart, that this person does still care about me. I've been down this road before and in my experience, it has never ended well. You would think that eventually it would be easier to face but it really isn't. It hurts beyond words each and every time. Actually, I think that each subsequent time it happens, it hurts MORE because I am older, allegedly wiser, and yet still stupid enough to misplace trust time and time again. Why, oh why, can't someone ever prove me wrong?