Necessary changes in relationships

I was listening to a good friend of mine telling me how they had to cut ties with their parent(s). Some of what she went through was tragic, absolutely horrific. I likened the final letter that they received from the disappointed parent to something written by Stephen King. Gross.

When my friend wrote back a clear, well reasoned letter signing off on the relationship, I was overjoyed! To have a break from a relationship that was intrinsically disrespectful and malicious — it made me so happy.

I’ve experienced dramatic changes like that in the past. The quality of the relationships in my past aren’t important. I won’t even say that I could relate to my friend other than in what I’m about to describe.

It’s become clear to me that there are times when it is wholly appropriate to make changes, sometimes wholesale and dramatic, to relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship is over per se, but different in that as it stands, the dynamics no longer work.

For example, I fully expect my daughter to change as she grows. I want her to (even though I also relish the thought of her always being “my little girl”). It’d be irresponsible of me to insist, let alone force, her to stay the same. Frankly it’d be impossible for that to happen and, in turn, insane for me to think so. Thus, at some point, I’ll have to stop seeing my daughter as my “little girl” and instead like my “teenage girl” or my “adult daughter”.

I’ve changed jobs in the past for various reasons. Those, too, require that the relationship change. Similar to a previous post of mine, I sometimes have to ask myself how willing I am to change the nature of the relationship. If I’m unwilling, I might get bitter and resentful and that never helps. If I’m fully willing, then who knows what the relationship can change into.

I’ve also experienced situations where a person has seen me in certain ways for so long that they expect me to continue being those same ways regardless of whether they work for me or whether I want to. I’ve been more successful than not when pointing out that their expectations of me are bound to be disappointed as I was no longer interested or willing to be the same person they wanted me to be. Thankfully, most of those people were more interested in me being myself than in me being what they wanted. That’s some love and acceptance from my friends, and I’m eternally grateful for those people in my life.

I fully expect my friend to experience freedom from all the emotional burden that they had been carrying for so long. Hoping and/or expecting someone to change is hard. Letting go of that fantasy for whatever reason offers profound freedom.

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