I have had to choose to accept those that are constructive and helpful in my life and let go of those that are simply ... not. Destructive for me, for whatever reason.
I've had to actually choose it.
And it's not a very easy choice to make, and it's usually a very painful choice to make, and the one time I honestly had to remove myself from a long, long, close relationship because it had become so very toxic has been a defining experience in my life.
Here is what I felt at the time: I have to do this in order to survive. In fact, I'm not actually sure it was a conscious decision or a building, building thing. I think it was both. There was the years of pain and tug-of-war and actual emotional destruction, and there was the moment of "This is more then I can do. I don't know you and I can't know you." There was lots and lots and lots of anger. There was resentment and feelings of betrayal, of "I didn't do this, YOU did, and I'm the one who has had to suffer!" There was complete disillusionment of the idea of friendship. And then there was the sure knowledge that I had to choose something else.
And I stepped out. I stepped out and walked away.
After years of being there, I could not be there for one second more. My spirit could not take it. I walked away, I closed the door tightly.
And in the process, I, too, destroyed.
I have had to accept that.
That's not always an easy thing, either.
It's a difficult balance, choosing survival, and then embracing it, and then reconciling it because of all it means.
Here is what I felt after a couple of years: I have to let this go. I have to forgive. I have to forgive the person who was my friend, and I have to forgive myself, both for the contributions I made to the problems in the relationship and for the choice to end it. This has built a wall between myself and the Lord. This has affected every day of my life, and occupied way too many of my thoughts and feelings. I have to let it go, and I know I can't do it by myself. I want to be okay, and because I love that person, I want them to be okay, too, even though they must be separate from me.
The door opened a little bit, enough for me to allow the Lord to cleanse my heart and ease my burden. And for a few strange visits, where the person who had not chosen for this long standing relationship to end thought maybe things would go back to where they had once been, and I knew they never could. The course was chosen, and it was a necessary course.
But still, so strange and halting.
Here is what I feel now, almost a decade after that choice was made:
I have had to, and I have to make choices in my life. I have to embrace those that offer construction and emotional well-being and love, those that are builders -- and I have to sift through those that are not. I have to be selective. And I have to be firm. Not a fortress, but a guardian. Of my home and my heart and my wellness and my peace. I will always love and care for that person, and I am so happy they are doing well and I am sad for their heartaches and joyful for their triumphs and progress.
But always from a distance.
I have learned: That truly, the Lord can take our burden and make it light. But we have to be willing to unclench our fists and give it to Him. That is hard, but always possible. In fact, I may have actually had to ask for help to unclench those tightly held, arthritic fists. And help did come, in large and small doses. Also, being honest and asking for help is not bad. Asking for forgiveness is really so helpful. And time is really valuable. Also, one important thing: forgiveness of others and self is a process, not a destination. We must work hard, and offer patience to our wounded heart. It will come if we want it.
I still think of that person often.
I sometimes still take that choice out of the box, turn it over in my hands, and look at it.
I don't know how I could have done it differently. I do know that at the time it seemed like my only choice. But I wish, somehow, I could have come up with a better way. A gentler way. I don't know if there was another way. I have debated and debated it in my mind. But I wish it didn't have to hurt anyone else.
This much I know: the Lord can look at my heart. And He's going to have to. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, I think it's been a very helpful motivator for me. I hope when the time comes He will find it tender. And because He is so merciful, I know He has taken the burden of the other injured party, also. We very seldom speak, but when we do, it is "I hope you are well. I think of you fondly."
This experience is still a part of what forms my choices. It is still a part of me that I sometimes need to talk over with those who know me best. And they listen, and they speak.
And it helps me.